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What’s the difference between hard fat and soft fat?

There are two kinds of belly fat that can tell you more about your health; hard and soft fat. Having excess belly fat that is hard to the touch is a sign that you’re at a high risk of health problems. Soft belly fat is less dangerous but still a sign that you may be overweight.

Here’s what you need to know about the two types of belly fat, and what to do to treat them and prevent further health issues:

Hard belly fat

Having hard belly fat increases your chance of developing heart disease and diabetes. It is caused by a high concentration of visceral fat located between the internal organs. It packs the organs tightly, leaving no room to move, which is why the belly feels solid.

As hard fat collects in the abdominal cavity, it pushes the abdominal wall outwards, creating a bulging belly. The fat itself isn’t hard, but the accumulation and packing of fat, tissues and organs make your belly feel hard when you press it.

A hard belly can be caused by a number of things; genetics, diet and lifestyle. Men are more prone to developing hard bellies than women (sometimes referred to as a ‘beer gut’). Lack of exercise, consumption of high-calorific foods and consuming high amounts of fatty foods can contribute to visceral fat in the abdomen.

Soft belly fat

On the other hand, soft belly fat is caused by subcutaneous fat just underneath the skin’s surface. Everyone has subcutaneous belly fat but those with large amounts will have a soft and jiggly abdomen. Soft fat can be pinched between the fingers whereas hard fat cannot.

Like hard fat, a soft belly is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. Consuming processed foods and not getting enough exercise are the main reasons for a build-up of subcutaneous fat. Women are more likely than men to store soft fat in their bellies.

Risks of hard and soft fat

As mentioned before, everyone has some amount of fat in their abdomen. A small amount of soft, subcutaneous fat is harmless. However, people with large amounts of soft fat also tend to have hard fat deeper in their abdomen too.

Hard fat has been linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes – the most common form of diabetes that results in high blood sugar. The visceral fat in the abdomen is known to cause insulin resistance, which leads to the onset of type 2 diabetes, and internal inflammation.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include frequent urination, constant thirst, fatigue, drowsiness, blurred vision and/or increased appetite. The best way to treat type 2 diabetes is to increase physical activity, lose weight and eat healthier foods. Medicines are also used to reduce insulin resistance or increase insulin production in the pancreas.

How to get rid of excess belly fat

Medical research has shown that losing between 5 and 10 percent of your body weight (four to eight kilograms for an 80kg person) will remove 25 to 40 percent of your hard visceral fat. The obvious way to lose weight is to eat less, eat healthy foods and exercise more often.

Swop white bread for seeded brown or wholegrain bread. Eat brown rice instead of white rice. If you need to have sugar, use brown sugar. Processed foods and takeaways need to be banished from your diet; fruit and vegetables need to become more prominent. Fizzy drinks and sweetened foods also need to be given up.

An easy way to exercise more is to start with 30 minutes of walking a day. The goal is to increase your heart rate for at least half an hour every day, whether it’s by walking, running, rowing or cycling. Cardio exercises have been proven to increase weight loss and get rid of visceral fat.

If you have excess belly fat, whether hard or soft, it’s wise to change your habits and start living a healthier lifestyle. If you are concerned about hard belly fat, consult your local doctor for advice.

Please note: This information is not a real substitute for professional medical care and should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any illnesses. It is purely for informational purposes only.

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