Like me, you may have developed this weird kind of relationship with your “weight” once you’ve passed the forty-year-old (or 50-year) mark. By ‘weird relationship’ I mean you totally want to ditch your scale… Am I right?
After all, it doesn't define you (or me - obviously).
However, here’s the thing - while what you weigh does matter in the overall scheme of things regarding your health – managing your weight is only a part of it. Placement, as in ‘where’ this weight is stored, actually surpasses body weight in level of importance.
For example; Let's look at your waist circumference (well...you look at yours and I'll look at mine).
Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):
Have you ever heard of the fruity body shape descriptions labeled as an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.
THAT is the core (no pun intended) of what I’m talking about here.
So, can you guess which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).
Yup – that apple!
And it's not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top,” either. The increased health risk in this situation is due to ‘internal’ fat. The fat inside the abdomen that’s potentially smothering the liver, intestines and other organs there.
This internal fat is called “visceral fat” - It's this “un-pinchable” fat that makes your mid-section more of a barrel shape.
The reason we should pay attention to the amount of visceral fat we carry is because it causes the body to release inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect our blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.
And the fact is; apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this kind of fat than the pear-shaped people do…
So, hopefully now, you are beginning to see why having a flatter tummy is increasingly important as we continue to age. It even matters more than how much you weigh.
Am I an apple or a pear?
If you want to find out if you're in the higher risk category or not, the easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. You can do it right now. (Just remember to measure from your belly-button and NOT from where your waist-band is)
Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.
For men the number is 40”.
Of course this isn't a 100% accurate diagnostic tool. There are still other risk factors to consider when determining risk for chronic diseases, but measuring waist circumference is a good start.
If you think you might be in this higher-risk category, or have concerns about your health, I suggest to definitely see your doctor.
Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:
Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fiber foods are brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
Move more. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.
Stress less. Seriously! Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).
And speaking of tip number one (getting more fiber), you may want to add this little recipe to your high fiber, side-dish arsenal: Recipe (High fiber side dish): Lemony Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Until next time – Live loud, Stay Young, and Keep Moving toward a better you!
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