Beware The Belly Fat

November 16, 2015

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We all know that obesity poses a serious risk to our health, but new scientific evidence suggests that belly fat alone can more harmful, regardless of how much you weigh.

A 14-year study recently published in the journal Annals in Internal Medicine examined the health of over 15,000 adults. Researchers found that men of a normal weight with excess stomach fat were more than twice as likely to die compared to men with obesity with more even fat distribution. Similarly, women of a normal weight with excess belly fat had a 32 percent greater risk of death than women with obesity. Authors of the study believe that visceral fat, the fat stored in the abdomen, may be the reason for significantly higher mortality rates.

Where you store body fat determines how dangerous it is to your health. Stomach fat may look the same as fat from the arms or legs, but it is much more active.

Ģ Fat around the abdomen produces hormones and substances that interfere with blood vessel activity by clogging the arteries. Clogged arteries put you at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Ģ Visceral fat is often deposited in the liver. A fatty liver increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Ģ Belly fat increases insulin resistance and inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to weight gain and increased risk of cancer.

This study is an important reminder that weight tells one part of the story of our health and body composition and fat distribution tells another. People that are overweight or obese need to stay vigilant as they work to improve their weight loss and overall health. Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and inflammation are all linked to higher weights and body mass indexes (BMIs). Keep in mind that the study compared obese men and women with even fat distribution. This means that if you have more of an apple-shaped figure, you face the greatest health risks.

Reducing belly fat is one of the best things you can do for your health, regardless of how much you weigh. Here are some tips backed by science that can help you turn that rotten apple into a body ripe for longevity.

Get moving. A publication from the Harvard Medical School stressed that lifestyle habits, especially exercise, are the best way to fight visceral fat. Both aerobic and strength training have the power to burn fat and increase resting metabolism.

Switch to whole grains. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who consumed great amounts of whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa, instead refined grains, like white bread, white pasta, and white rice) had lower amount visceral fat in their abdomens. The simple rule is, if it’s white, don’t take that bite! And remember that white foods hide in many seemingly healthy foods, so always check the nutrition labels.

Limit sugar. Studies have shown added sugars like fructose may cause belly fat. These are commonly found in sodas, energy drinks, and fruit juice blends. Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally occurring sugars found in whole fruits. Fruits are rich and flavor and more importantly fiber, which will keep promote satiety and aid in weight loss. And sugar is even sneakier than refined grains by hiding in foods under several different names. Learn what those names are, and again, check nutrition labels before eating.

Eat more protein. Burn belly fat by adding more lean protein to our diets. A study published in Journal of Nutrition found that increasing your protein intake to about 30 percent of your total calories might help you drop abdominal fat. Protein takes the body longer to digest than other food and requires more calories burned to break down.

Belly fat is more than an appearance concern; it’s a major health risk. Whether you are of normal weight or suffer from obesity, the danger it poses can very well take years off your life. The first step in knowing if you are at risk is measuring your body composition, which will tell you where most of your body fat is stored. Talk to your doctor about taking that step today.

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