Yep, belly fat is the worst. The more I’ve researched it, the more I realized I need to burn it, and it appears that cardio is the most efficient way to accomplish that. I saw a study that showed that weightlifting didn’t affect visceral fat levels, but cardio burned it pretty quickly. I lift weights anyway, but that’s because I want to be strong and keep some muscle on my frame, rather than become the archetypal skinny runner.
I intentionally overate calories for about half a year, and for the last part of that I was eating 5,000-6,000 calories a day. Amazingly, my hunger kept increasing to match my intake. I was actually hungrier eating 6,000 calories a day than I am now, when I eat 1,500-2,500 (depending on mood and exercise–I eat more when I run). My appetite has gradually decreased as it recognizes I don’t plan to eat more, and I don’t really feel deprived.
When I was overeating, I became the fattest I have ever been. Over the last several years (late 20s to early 30s), I averaged a weight of 170-180 at 5’9″, which was overweight but not drastically so. My weight then increased during overeating to a max of about 215, which is technically obese, and noticeable even under clothes. My belly made a lot of things more difficult, from putting on socks to running to walking up stairs. When I was younger and used to run, I weighed about 150-155, and it was so much easier than when I run now. It was especially hard to get started, but has gotten easier as my weight has fallen back under 200.
Since I put on weight in my midsection so easily (a trait I share with the rest of my family, even some of the women), I realized that I probably had visceral fat even when I look relatively fit–and that could explain some of my health problems. That’s why I intend to do a lot of cardio and burn that shit off. Once I reach my goal weight (160-170 with muscles), I’ll increase my calories for maintenance, but I’m going to keep the cardio at 30-60 minutes a day to be sure I keep the visceral fat away. Surprisingly, sumo wrestlers have almost no visceral fat while they are in training because of their long work-outs (4-5 hours a day). Their huge calorie intake keeps them obese, but it’s a healthy fat (subcutaneous) because of the exercise. However, I don’t want to look like a sumo wrestler either, so I’m watching my calories.
I’ll continue to post in these forums with my results. I generally post a bit every month or two with updates. If I discover that my 500-1000 calorie deficit starts to wear me down, I will be honest about it, as I have with my other failures. One thing that definitely didn’t work was a 1,500 calorie deficit, which I could only manage by eating tons of protein (because protein dulled my hunger). I was in a bad mood all the time and my digestion was awful. I also didn’t have great success when I tried to manipulate macros rather than just count calories. I was looking for a “trick” to fix my problems, and it didn’t work. But simple calorie restriction seems to be successful so far, because I can still allow myself whatever types of food I want, and it’s been enough to recover from three mile jogs and 30-minute weightlifting sessions. As I build stamina to the point I can run 6-8 miles, I will increase my calories accordingly.