All fat is not created equal. Where you carry your excess weight matters.
Belly fat, also called “beer belly,” “the pregnant look” and more correctly, “visceral fat” poses the biggest health risk.
The adult human body has as many fat cells as it’s ever going to have. You can’t make more. If those cells get full and you continue to take in extra fat and animal protein, your body continues to try to shove more fat into the already full fat cells. This causes fat to “spill” out of the cell and back into the blood.
The old news on visceral fat being a problem is that it is linked to the over-activity of the stress response (you have probably heard that cortisol causes belly fat), raising blood pressure, blood sugar and cardiac risk.
But the new science is more concerning. We store toxins in our fat cells (lipotoxicity). When visceral fat spills it goes straight to the liver, pouring free fatty acids directly into the liver. These free fatty acids collect in places that are not meant to store fat; such as the pancreas (which can create a problem with insulin production), the heart and other organs.
The easiest option to determine if you are at risk for visceral fat is to measure your waist (right at your bellybutton).
Intermediate risk for men: 37.1″ – 39.9″
Intermediate risk for women: 31.6″ – 34.9″
High risk for men: greater than 40″
High risk for women: greater than 35″
But the good news is on the whole-food plant-based lifestyle visceral fat melts away pretty quickly. So go eat some plants!