It’s easy to be over-focused on how much you weigh. You totally want to ditch the scale, don’t you? Good news — there’s something else that’s more important when it comes to your health: your waist circumference.
Your waist girth is not just the pinchable “muffin top” fat under the skin, it’s the internal fat around your abdominal organs that can be the real issue.
The internal fat (“visceral fat”) releases a bunch of harmful inflammatory compounds. Too much visceral fat is associated with high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and poor insulin control.
Waist Circumference (Belly Fat)
Are you familiar with the fruit body shape descriptions — being an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is round around the middle and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.
An apple shape has a thicker waist circumference, and that’s what we’re talking about here. Apple shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (insulin resistance and diabetes), high blood pressure, high blood fat, and arterial disease.
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 most of the problem lies. It’s the hidden, “un-pinchable” fat. The reason the visceral fat can be a health hazard is because it releases inflammatory compounds and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.
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 that 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 inches 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 inches.
Disclaimer: There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them. Get regular checkups to look for trouble!
Tips to reduce waist circumference
- Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. It helps you feel full, and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Vegetables, nuts, and whole grains (like oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice) are great sources of dietary fiber.
- Add more protein to your menu. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also helps level out your blood sugar, and that prevents fat storage.
- Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods and sweetened drinks.
- Move more. If you’re not on a structured exercise program, get with one of our personal trainers to create one for you. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up!
- Stress less. Seriously! Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and increase abdominal fat.
- Get better sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look). Try cutting off your screen time 2 hours before bedtime. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, try focusing on your breathing. This will relax you, and also re-oxygenate your body!
Contact Basics and Beyond for help with a comprehensive fitness and nutrition program to slim your waistline!