With our busy lives and demanding jobs, sometimes it’s hard to notice a few extra pounds gathering around our waistlines, and even harder to find time and motivation to do anything about them. But ignoring the extra weight around our midsections can do more than make us go up a size. It can also have serious health repercussions.
Belly fat isn’t just the unsightly exterior bulge that makes it tough to zip and button. It’s also visceral fat, which pads the spaces between internal abdominal organs. Carrying extra weight in this area is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer, which can all lead to premature death. It can also be associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery. Even if you’re not technically overweight, if you’re carrying extra pounds around your stomach, you’re still at an increased risk of developing these health issues.
How Can I Slim Down my Midsection
Even though many uncontrollable factors, such as menopause and genetics, can contribute to the gain of visceral fat, there are simple lifestyle adjustments that can help you lower both your weight and your risk for developing health problems. Here are a few:
1. Watch what you eat. Make sure your diet is rich in fiber and lean protein, which will keep you feeling fuller longer.
2. Watch how much you eat.No matter how healthy your food choices are, if you overindulge, the calories will add up causing weight to accumulate. Try to only eat about half of restaurant servings, and when cooking at home, make sure your portion sizes are small.
3. Stay active. While crunches can help you build a strong core, done alone, they won’t decrease the amount of visceral fat you gain around your waist. Instead, try to incorporate 30 minutes of moderate exercise into your everyday routine. Try going on a brisk walk and taking up a strength training exercise a few times each week.
How to Measure
To see if your waistline is at risk for harboring excess visceral fat, just use a tape measure. Place it around your bare stomach just above your hips. Pull it snugly around and exhale. Don’t suck in! According to the Mayo Clinic, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more for women or 40 inches or more for men indicates an unhealthy concentration of visceral fat.