Published on June 19, 2017

How Belly Fat Is Sabotaging Your Health

What do you have in common with an apple?

If you’re like most men, that round shape is what you look like with a few too many pounds—widest around the middle. Women, on the other hand, are pears: Extra fat typically heads to their hips, rather than their waist.

Tape measure around waistThat difference is an important one—especially for men. Storing most of your fat around your waist, rather than at your hips, puts you at higher risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. High belly fat is also associated with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart attack.

Bad Fat, Worse Fat

A certain type of fat, called visceral fat, is associated with having a larger waistline. Visceral fat is nasty stuff. It interferes with how your body regulates blood sugar. It also secretes substances that may contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Lose Your Belly

You can’t help where your body stores fat. But you can do something about how much of it there is on your body. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can significantly improve your health. You may also notice you have more energy, you can move easier, and you feel more confident.

Follow these tips to lose your gut for good:

  • Plan for the long haul. A Clinical Nutrition study found that repeatedly losing and regaining weight is linked to higher abdominal fat. Try this: Once you’ve lost 10 percent of your body weight, try to maintain it for six months. Keeping a small amount of weight off is better than losing a lot only to gain it back later.
  • Crank up your cardio. Aerobic exercise is more effective at reducing belly fat than strength training, according to an analysis of 35 studies in Obesity Reviews. High-intensity aerobic exercise, like running, is most effective at burning abdominal fat, studies show.
  • Keep calories in check. No one diet is better than any other for burning abdominal fat, according to a study of four weight-loss diets in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Cutting calories is what matters most for losing fat, the researchers conclude. Most men should aim for 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.