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- Kunle Emmanuel
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- Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:02 pm
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Why is belly fat in men such a problem?
We think of belly fat as being a storage depot for energy that can be accessed during times of low food supply, but researchers are learning that fat is much more than that. Fat also produces hormone-like compounds called cytokines that increase inflammation. This is especially true of visceral fat. These inflammatory compounds can trigger the type of low-grade inflammation that plays a role in heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Plus, visceral fat is a risk factor for all-cause mortality in men. Pretty scary, huh?
How much is too much?
If you're a male, how do you know if you have too much? You don't have to be overweight to have too much visceral fat. In fact, relatively thin men can have problems with visceral abdominal fat and not know it, since visceral fat lies deep in your pelvic cavity.
The best indication? A waistline greater than 40 inches in circumference. Combine that with elevated lipid levels (triglycerides or LDL cholesterol) and high blood pressure and you almost surely have a problem with visceral fat. A 40-inch waistline is an arbitrary cutoff point for a higher risk for health problems, but it's important to take an expanding waistline seriously. A 38-inch waist can very quickly turn into a 40-inch one unless you make the appropriate lifestyle changes.
Since visceral fat produces cytokines that are pro-inflammatory, it can quietly do harm, like cause blood vessel inflammation that leads to heart disease and high blood pressure, increase insulin resistance, and promote the growth of tumor cells. There's another problem too. Some of the excess fat can deposit around the liver, leading to a common condition called fatty liver. In some people, fatty liver progresses to liver inflammation and then cirrhosis. That's another reason to keep belly fat under control.
What can you do about it?
Fortunately, if you're a male with excess visceral abdominal fat, you can reduce your risk by making appropriate lifestyle changes. Here are some things you can do to tame belly fat:
Lose weight if you're overweight.
Do vigorous exercise several times a week. All exercise helps to reduce visceral fat but high-intensity exercise appears to be best. Start out walking but as you build up your fitness level, alternate walking with short periods of running, gradually increasing the intensity over time. Don't forget about the importance of resistance training to help improve body composition.
Cut back on sugar, soft drinks, and "white" foods like white rice, potatoes, and bread made with white flour. Avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup or trans-fats, present in many packaged foods. Fill up on vegetables! Veggies contain natural compounds that help reduce inflammation.
Cut back on saturated fats in animal foods and full-fat dairy products. Instead, choose healthier forms of fat like monounsaturated fats in nuts, olive, and avocados, and omega-3 fats in fatty fish. Substitute plant-based protein and fish for a portion of the meat you eat.
Cut back on alcohol. Drinking three or more drinks a day can increase visceral fat. Stick to one glass of red wine daily. Red wine has natural antioxidants that may lower your risk for heart disease.
The Bottom Line
If you're a man, you may have too much visceral belly fat and not know it. Measure your waistline every few months and make sure it's not expanding. If you're approaching 40 inches, it's time to make some lifestyle changes. The good news? A combination of diet and exercise will go far toward decreasing belly fat. So take a closer look at your diet -- and get moving!
You have invested in some weight loss pills and herbs, but that waistline seems to be growing wider each day. Indeed, no matter what diet you follow and what exercise you do, you can’t seem to get rid of your paunch.
You are not the only one. The battle of the bulge is one of the biggest dietary challenges of the 21st century, according to experts.
The belly is the part from which most people would want to lose fat; but, sadly, it is often the last area to give way in the race to reduce body weight.
Beating the belly bulge as you grow older almost seems impossible and frustrating. However, Chief Cardiologist with Memphis Heart Centre, United States of America, Dr. James Arthur, says you must not give up for the sake of your health and longevity.
Arthur states that excess belly fat is more dangerous than excess fat around the hips and thighs.
He says, “Belly fat can lead to serious health problems. Studies and research have proven that excess fat in the abdominal area could result in a constellation of killer diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.”
The physician adds that though being overweight is hereditary, poor lifestyle choices is the major reason why many could not fight accumulating fat in their abdominal area.
Cut out alcohol
Alcohol is a toxin, experts warn. Just as eating toxic foods will lead to your greater omentum enlarging and your pot belly growing, so will drinking alcohol.
Alcohol dehydrates the body, which again slows down fat loss. It contains a massive amount of calories; and while alcohol is in your system, you will struggle to burn fat, as your liver is busy detoxifying alcohol rather than burning fat.
Drink more water
Water is essential in the battle to beat the belly bulge. For a start, 75 per cent of your body is made up of water. That fact alone should make one realise the need to keep drinking more water. If you are not drinking enough water, it will greatly affect your body.
Water is also used to clear toxins from the body and it helps fats to pass through your system before they can be stored. If you are dehydrated or not drinking enough water on a regular basis, toxins will build up in your body, affecting your ability to burn fat. Worse still, the fats will more likely be stored in your body.
According to Mattew, most people who overeat and struggle to control their hunger are, in fact, chronically dehydrated; and no matter how much they try to fight off hunger or how much they eat, the feeling doesn’t go away. She adds that with more water intake, however, the hunger will disappear.
You will probably have heard people say that carbohydrates make people fat, and not just fatty foods. This is true, experts say, as carbohydrates do lead to weight gain due to the effect they have on the hormones. However, you still need carbs in your diet; so, don’t cut them out completely.
Improve your posture
There are plenty of reasons why improving your posture will help you beat the belly bulge. Improved posture will help speed up metabolism through increased muscle tone, while it also helps the body to burn more calories and fat around the waistline.
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