Subcutaneous fat (ie… the kind you can see and pinch) is your belly fat that lies under the skin and is not necessarily harmful. You know the kind that flops over your jeans. To get rid of this kind of belly fat, you need to exercise hard and eat healthy to reduce overall body fat. Your genetics will determine how and at what speed the weight comes off, but rest assured that your belly will eventually shrink to more shapely (and firmer) dimensions if you are exercising and eating healthy. It builds up in different places in different people, although women often build it up in their thighs and rear ends.
However, if you’re “apple shaped” or if you’re sporting a beer belly, that’s likely a different kind of fat called “visceral” fat. Research shows that it is, in fact, targetable, which is fortunate since it’s much more insidious than the subcutaneous variety. Residing deep within your torso, visceral fat wraps itself around your heart, liver, and other major organs, and secretes chemicals that fuel inflammation. This kind of fat is harmful. Your best strategy for how to lose visceral fat is to work out hard with some fat burning exercises, stress less, sleep more, and make cleaner food choices.
When it comes to getting rid of belly fat, you CANNOT spot-reduce subcutaneous fat. Another words, you don’t need to worry about doing a strenuous ab workout and expect your muffin top to diminish. You have no choice, but to burn body fat all over by exercising and eating healthy until your genes decide to focus on that particular area. Also, keep in mind that subcutaneous fat is found between skin and muscle. You must do cardio and weight training.
As a personal trainer, I recommend my clients do cardio at least 3-5x/week and strength training exercises at least 2-3x/week to help reduce belly fat. I also strongly encourage eating healthy and minimizing starches to help reduce belly fat.
Yours in health,
Nichole Barras, BS, CLC, CPT