You totally want to ditch your scale, don’t you?
You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight”.
I mean, it doesn’t define you (obviously).
What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.
Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).
Just like my friend did and was pretty upset to learn that her waist circumference put her at higher risk of some serious health issues. “But how can that be” she said to me, “my weight is within the normal range?”
Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):
Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.
THAT is what we’re talking about here.
Do you know 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”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.
This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is. It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.
The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.
According to an article written by Silvia Burkle, Food Technologist and co-developer of the Metabolic Balance® nutritional concept, excess visceral abdominal fat puts us at higher risk of chronic inflammatory diseases.
Ms. Burkle goes on to say that the cause of to much abdominal fat is not an uneven energy balance alone, in other words it’s not necessarily about the number of calories ingested exceeding the calories that are expended. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition, for example, showed that a diet with a very high proportion of carbohydrates and a simultaneous reduction of the protein content, especially the essential amino acids, may lead to more abdominal fat¹.
And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.
So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important than how much you weigh.
Am I an apple or a pear?
It’s pretty simple 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.
Women, if your waist is 35” (88cm) 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” (102cm).
Of course this isn’t a diagnostic tool. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.
If you have concerns 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. If you are unsure about how much protein to eat contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, I can help.
- 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).
¹Donald K. Layman et al.: A reduced ratio of Dietary carbohydrate to Protein improves Body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women. Journal of Nutrition 2003; vol. 133 no 2 411-417