Belly fat isn’t just a matter of aesthetics. It is also to be taken seriously from a health point of view. Discover the causes of abdominal fat, the health risks for men and what you can do to shed the extra pounds.
If you have a few extra pounds, you’re not alone. But be aware that carrying extra weight, especially belly fat, can be risky.
Belly fat is dangerous fat.
Belly Fat: The Serious Health Risks
The problem with belly fat is that it is not limited to the layer of padding just under the skin (subcutaneous fat). It also includes visceral fat, which is found in your abdomen, around your internal organs.
Regardless of your total weight, having a lot of belly fat increases your risk of:
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
Premature death from any cause
High blood pressure
Age and genetics may contribute to increased belly fat
Your weight is largely determined by three main factors:
The number of calories you consume during the day
How many calories you burn doing daily exercise
If you eat too much and exercise too little, you risk putting on extra pounds, including belly fat.
Aging also plays a role. As you age, you lose muscle, especially if you’re not physically active. Losing muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it harder to maintain a healthy weight. For reference, men in their 50s need about 200 fewer calories per day than those in their 30s due to this muscle loss.
Your genes can also help increase your chances of being overweight or obese as well as influence where you store fat. However, balancing the calories you eat with physical activity can help prevent weight gain, despite your age and genes.
Alcohol Calories Contribute to “Beer Belly”
Drinking too much alcohol can give you a “beer belly,” but beer alone isn’t to blame. Drinking too much alcohol of any type can increase belly fat because alcohol contains calories. If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation.
For men 65 and under, moderation means up to two drinks a day. For men over 65, that means up to one drink a day. The less you drink, the fewer calories you consume and the less likely you are to gain belly fat.
Do you have a big belly? Determine your belly size
So how do you know if you have too much belly fat? Measure your size:
Stand up and wrap a tape measure around your bare stomach, just above your hip.
Pull the tape measure until it fits snugly around you, but don’t overtighten it. Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
Relax, exhale, and measure your waist, resisting the urge to suck in your belly.
For men, a waist circumference greater than 102 centimeters indicates an unhealthy concentration of belly fat and an increased risk of health problems.
By losing weight and exercising, your waistline will shrink
You can tone abdominal muscles with targeted ab exercises, but just doing these exercises won’t get rid of belly fat. However, visceral fat responds to the same diet and exercise strategies that can help reduce your total fat mass.
To combat swelling:
Adopt a healthy diet. Choose foods of plant origin, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose lean sources of protein, such as fish and low-fat dairy products.
Limit saturated fats, found in meat and high-fat dairy products, such as cheese and butter. Also limit processed meats. Instead, choose moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are found in fish, nuts and some vegetable oils.
Control portion sizes. Even when you make healthy choices, calories add up. At home, reduce your portion sizes. At the restaurant, share your meals or eat half of your meal and take the rest home.
Replace sugary drinks. Drink water instead.
Make physical activity part of your daily routine. For most healthy adults, moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes per week is advised. Or vigorous aerobic activity, such as running, for at least 75 minutes per week.
Additionally, strength exercises are recommended at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or achieve specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more.
Losing belly fat takes effort and patience. To lose excess fat and keep it from coming back, aim for slow, steady weight loss.