Don’t just aim to lose your belly fat because you want to look good come swimsuit season; lose it because having belly fat is more harmful than being obese.
Obesity has been an extremely serious health issue for more than a decade now because it has been linked to a number of chronic and life-threatening diseases.
But scientists and health experts have also been raising awareness about the bigger danger of abdominal fat and visceral fat.
You may feel it’s okay if you have belly fat as long as your BMI is still within the healthy range, and you would be fatally wrong.
Having a flat stomach is not just about vanity.
The most recent study and the first one to focus on the health risks of abdominal fat has revealed that having a “spare tire” around your belly poses greater health risks than being obese.
You read that right.
You can have a normal BMI, but if you have belly fat, you are at greater risk for serious diseases than people who are obese.
Having a healthy BMI is not the only measure of good health.
Why People with Belly Fat Have More Cause for Worry than People Who are Obese
A recent article on CBSNews.com presents the results of the aforementioned study, which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
“[But] in this study, we actually proved that a person can be centrally obese and have normal BMI and that person is at a greater risk for serious health problems,” explained Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiovascular specialist at the Mayo Clinic and the study’s lead author, during his CBS interview. 
The study involved analyzing data submitted by 15,000 participants, U.S. adults between 18 and 90, in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and follow-ups over the course of 14 years.
Lopez-Jimenez’s team found “that normal-weight adults with central obesity — measured by waist-hip ratio — have the worst long-term survival compared with any group, regardless of BMI.
In fact, the data showed that normal-weight people with fat around the midsection were twice as likely to die compared people who were overweight or obese according to BMI.” 
What Your Midsection Says About You
Having a flat midsection, it turns out, is more than just about looking good.
Abdominal fat is one of the most difficult to get rid of and the easiest to gain.
In more ways than one, people with flat stomachs have good control over their body and health.
There are several reason that fat in the abdomen can be more fatal than fat everywhere else in the body.
In fact, you can be thin except around your belly and you would still be in greater danger of developing Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and liver disease, among others, than somebody who is obese.
This is because excess abdominal fat is also indicative of other fat deposits, or visceral fat, inside the body.
As the name implies, the fat deposits build up in the viscera (the spaces inside the abdominal cavity), particularly around the internal organs: the heart, liver, pancreas, and intestines.
Visceral fat produces toxins that adversely affect the functions of these internal organs.
For example, visceral fat produces cytokines, harmful chemicals that are linked to an increased risk for heart disease, insulin resistance, and cancers of the esophagus, colon, and pancreas.
A Few Extra Pounds Around Your Middle Should Not Be Taken Lightly
You may not be overweight, much less obese.
Your only problem area may be around your midsection, and you may easily shrug this off.
Because visceral fat is hidden deep within the abdominal cavity, many develop a false sense of security about their health and they only realize that they have a serious problem when it’s already too late.
Such lack of concern because of their presumed relative “healthfulness” is also a major reason that abdominal fat is dangerous.
The long and short of it is if you have excess belly fat and especially if you have had it for a while, the chances that you also have ample stores of visceral fat are extremely high, and so are your risks for related diseases.
You may also think that you’re better of being overweight, or even obese if having normal weight but with excess abdominal fat puts you at greater risk for diseases.
This is not the solution you should be going for either, for obvious reasons.
Additionally, where the excess fat gets stored is partly determined by genetics.
Some people get heavier around their thighs, butt, and upper arms, first, and still have small/skinny faces; most women who easily gain fat in their upper arms also store the excess fat in their breasts.
And for others, the extra fat goes straight to the waist.
You don’t have to develop a six-pack to reverse the risks for disease associated with excess belly fat.
The important thing to do is to get rid of the excess pounds and to develop a strong midsection, with or without six-pack abs.
It’s also important to remember that you should not just rely on your BMI to determine your overall health condition.
Especially if you’re prone to developing belly fat, you have to start seriously focusing on changing your diet and exercising more often and regularly to get rid of it and to keep it off.
It’s not about vanity; it’s about your long-term health.
Love Yourself Right, Lose the belly fat
The equations for weight gain/weight loss are simple enough to remember: If you eat too more than you burn, you gain weight; if you burn as much as you eat, you maintain your weight; and if you burn more than you eat, you lose weight.
To lose the belly fat, you have to burn more than what you eat, as well as avoid certain foods.
As you age, your body’s ability to burn calories decreases because your metabolism also slows down; this is why it gets harder to get rid of excess weight as you grow older.
And this is all the more reason to start getting fit while burning calories is still relatively easier.
Developing healthy habits, after all, takes time.
Start conditioning your mind and body as early as possible so that maintaining a fit and healthy body as you age will be a lot easier.
Losing a few pounds around your waist will improve your health many times over.
It will take time to develop a flat stomach, as well as a lot of patience and commitment.
But the benefits make all the effort well worth it.
Here are 11 tips to help get rid of excess abdominal and keep it off.
1. Aim for slow and steady weight loss each week
It can be 1 kilo or 2; keep track of your progress to keep you motivated.
2. Add more fiber to your diet
Fiber is more filling and also promotes a healthy digestive system.
The fuller you feel every meal, the less you will overeat and indulge in unhealthy/fattening foods.
The trick is to make your plate as colorful as possible with fruits and vegetables.
3. Practice portion control
Eat smaller portions, but more frequently.
This strategy works two ways:
First, you limit your food to what your body needs and efficiently burn, avoiding any excess that will only get stored as body fat.
Second, you keep your metabolism up.
When you feed your body only what it can burn, you condition it to keep your rate of metabolism up.
The small, but frequent meals you have is efficiently metabolized because you have trained your body to expect the regular input of adequate fuel.
Conversely, when you eat fewer but bigger meals, your body goes on survival mode by slowing down your metabolism and storing most of the food as fat because the fuel it needs comes less frequently.
4. Engage in more physical activities throughout the day
Sustained vigorous aerobic activity is the ideal regimen to have if you want to lose excess belly fat and keep it off.
Brisk walking or jogging for at least 150 minutes a week is what experts recommend.
You can spread this out evenly throughout the week, and even throughout the day.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or just two or three flights before using the elevator.
Walk to and/or from the restaurant or the grocery store instead of driving; or ride your bike.
Climb up and down the stairs at home more often.
Watch and learn simple aerobic exercises online; 10-15 minutes a day will make a huge difference if you do it regularly.
5. Strengthen your abdominal section through simple, strength training exercises
Do these exercises a few times a week, together with your aerobic exercises, and you will shed those excess pounds around your belly sooner.
6. Build some muscle.
In your arms, your butt, your belly.
It does not matter where.
The more muscles you have, the more fat you burn.
You don’t have bulk up; you just need to get toned.
7. Avoid sitting for hours at a time.
Take frequent breaks from sitting down at your desk or your couch.
Just stand up for a few minutes; stretch your muscles; march in place; do some squats.
8. Reduce your sugar intake.
Fruit juice may seem healthier than soda, but these pre-packaged products are also high in sugar content.
Water is still the healthiest way to stay hydrated.
Drink water before every meal, and often during the meal, to feel fuller faster.
Drink lots of water throughout the day to also help stave off hunger.
You can easily satisfy a craving for something sweet by eating a banana or an apple instead of a cookie.
A peanut butter sandwich (on whole-grain bread) is better than doughnuts.
9. Avoid processed foods.
These are not only high in sugar content but also salt content, as well as unhealthy fats and numerous chemicals.
All you get are empty calories which will go straight to your abdomen.
10. Make sure you get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep stresses the body and, consequently, affects your energy levels and rate of metabolism.
11. Consider taking up yoga.
It builds up flexibility and is a great way to strengthen core muscles.
A final word of motivation
You will really have to give yourself a lot of tough love to get rid of your belly fat for good.
But such love is the kind that gives back something that is far more satisfying than any sinful food indulgence; the satisfaction lasts for a lifetime, too, compared to the short-lived gratification you get from unhealthy food cravings and habits.
Get started on making these changes now and stay focused on your goal – lifelong good health!