You will not just get up one morning, look down and not be able to see your toes—it’s a far more tricky process than that. Because of the decreasing speed of their metabolism, if men ate and exercised at the same level that they did when they were in their twenties into their fifties, they would gain, on average nearly 5 pounds of fat a year.
Indeed, genetic differences mean this if far from precise science, and there is no way to tell who will put on how much weight. What is known is that the weight will be put around your waist in the form of a big belly.
Belly belly bad
As a man, you will be naturally predisposed to putting on weight on the waistline over the years. This is different with the situation for women, who puts on weight on the hips, buttocks and thighs, before it creeps its way to the belly. Science is perplexed as to why men will be apple-shaped whereas women will be pear-shaped, but one thing that doctors are sure of is that your belly fat spells trouble and bad news. If left to its own devices, there is a strong chance that your belly weight will turn around and kill you.
Giving up to a “middle-aged spread” is one of the worst things that you can do. Belly fat is the most unabashedly poisonous type of fat that is out there, and packing on the pounds around your belly will threaten your coronary health to a greater degree a big backside. Also, depending on where you are carrying this extra weight, your belly can affect several other features of your physical well-being such as energy levels and the state of your back.
The fat around your belly will have high amounts of visceral (or intra-abdominal) fat, while fat piled up elsewhere will be subcutaneous (it sits on the top just below the skin or within the muscles). Although you need some visceral fat to enclose and protect your organs, it should be so much that it starts to show in the form of a belly. It will store itself tightly around key organs—it is much more dense than subcutaneous fat and attack your heart by playing chaos with you insulin levels, therefore sending your cholesterol levels soaring. This is the reason, historically, men are more prone to heart disease than women, and anyone with a higher than 30% concentration of visceral fat is the best candidate for type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure.
There are so many negative conditions happening in the body because of excess belly fat that they have been given the composite name Metabolic Syndrome—or Insulin Resistance Syndrome. At the top of these conditions is the body’s inability to properly metabolize visceral fat.
For the most part, visceral fat affects the liver, which duties include regulating the release of cholesterol into the bloodstream. When there is too much fat in the body, the liver goes into overdrive trying to keep up and process it all, and a healthy liver will do this too efficiently, meaning it will dispense large amounts of LDL cholesterol into the bloodstream to act as a transporter for the fat cells. The large amount of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream creates waxy deposits, known as plaque that sticks themselves to the artery walls to narrow and ultimately block them. There will also be too much glycerol being brought to the liver to process into glucose.
In the end, the liver becomes overworked and functions far less efficiently. When this happens, the fat starts piling up on it, swelling the organ and causing a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Visceral fat in the body also dispense a chemical known as angiotensinogen, which integrates with renin, by itself is a harmless discharge from the kidneys, to cause the narrowing of blood vessels. The fatty acids formed by the belly fat also release molecules that attach to and roughen the interior walls of the arteries, making it accessible for the plaque to take hold. All of this plots to immensely increase your chance of high blood pressure, stroke or cardiovascular disease.
Carrying around a big, hard belly will increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes as well. The presence of visceral fat will create a condition in the body known as insulin resistance, where the cells no longer react to insulin as a regulator of blood sugar levels. With glucose levels not being checked in the bloodstream, the pancreas ramps up insulin production to try to clear things up and that serves to make things worse as the body’s metabolic balance is further tilted off the top.
Genetics plays a very big role in how you will pile on fat but there are also a few environmental causes that are entirely out of your control. Saturated fats are a major contributor to visceral fat, so men with diets high in dairy or animal fats should change this dietary habit. Consuming a lot of alcohol is another trigger—hence the “beer belly” concept—and will harm the liver and further contribute to its malfunctioning. Surprisingly, though, there has been some current research to suggest that moderate drinking—a glass of wine at night—will actually work to prevent visceral fat. Men who smoke also have a higher chance of developing a big belly—a recent study in Japan showed smokers accumulated visceral fat at an increased rate than non-smokers, even though scientists still don’t understand why. The other prime candidates for belly fat are those who are constantly stressed. Although it’s often times assumed that stressors burn off fat with nervous energy, belly fat actually happens because of stress. When you are stressed, a hormone called cortisol is produced by the adrenal gland and released into the body to increase blood pressure and blood sugar. Research at Yale University has shown that constant high levels of cortisol in men of all ages and older women bolster the accumulation of fat around the belly.
It’s why fat guys waddle
Acquiring a large, solid belly will affect your posture, which will add to more than just lower back pain. Having to carry extra weight just in front of your lumbar vertebrae will start to pull them forward, stretching the natural curve of the spine and causing the pelvis to lean too far forward. When this happens, the legs have to move out from under the hips as you walk, hence the waddle effect. This will also cause strain on the knees, which are already supporting extra weight.
Losing that belly weight may not be all that difficult—eat less, stay active pretty much is all it takes—but to do that properly, effectively and with minimal risk to your health, there are a few rules that must be followed.
Crash diets may work in the short term in which you lose a few pounds during the first few weeks, but on the long run, they will not be sustainable without damaging your health. Similarly, intensive diets such as the Grapefruit Plan, or the Cabbage Soup Diet are not recommended for a long period of time. Removing carbohydrates from your diet is not a good idea either as they tend to involve making it up in other areas—specifically leading up to the dairy and meat department—which can seriously increase your cholesterol levels.
The foundation of any realistic weight loss eating plan is to simply wipe out fats, refined sugar and simple carbohydrates, but keep protein, nutrients, natural sugars found in fruits and complex carbohydrates. Even though eliminating the carbs on plans like Atkins or South Beach will show amazing early results, complex carbohydrates that are found in whole grains, are important to provide you the energy to start the exercise program that will shape the other side of your weight loss agenda.
Put some effort in
Exercise is necessary for managing weight loss long-term. Also, while it does wonder for your cardiovascular levels and typically make you feel better, exercise will encourage your metabolism into burning far more efficiently. Then, every pound of muscle you put on will need more calories burned to uphold the same weight in fat.
Just as importantly, exercise will give you something positive to do rather than feeling worthless and giving up, and help you focus on becoming fitter, eating healthier, rather than skinnier. Men who start an exercise program to coordinate with their eating plan are more than twice as likely to keep the weight off than those who don’t. This is thought to be because staying physically active becomes a habit.
Change your habits
Do you always have pizza when you meet up with the boys on the way to the game? Will you usually grab a burger when you get off the bus late at night? Is there a beer and chicken wings ritual that is involved every time you watch a movie at home? Losing weight and that beer belly is as much as making changes to what you do as it is about changing what you consume. Focusing on this all the time reveals that it’s your circumstances guiding your diet rather than the other way around.
As you start planning your new eating routine, look for patterns, places and associations in your life that may be causing you poor dietary habits—keeping a diary will help you to see things clearer. If you can identify what is contributing to your weight gain, the best thing that you can do, is adapt your approach to them. Get off the bus at a different block so that you avoid passing you’re favorite junk food place or eat (healthily) before settling down to watch your favorite game and you will be less likely to stuff yourself with chips and soda. You will be surprised at how many calories you are losing just by being attentive to what you are eating.
Slowly does it
Losing weight quickly is liable to be put back on almost as speedily. Any weight loss programs that promises ten pounds lost in as many as days is in fact going to be eradicating your body of retained water and muscles mass rather than fat, and this soon will reappear as your body re-stabilizes. Fat falls off very slowly, and you should be targeting for a weight loss of between one and two pounds per week because of the small changes in your lifestyle and eating habits. Moreover, the longer a weight loss plan lasts, the more likely it is to become a necessary part of your life rather than something to be bear for a specific amount of time. One pound of body fat is equivalent to about 3500 calories, so to lose two pounds in a week, you will need to rebalance your personal equation by an average of 1200 calories every day. Taking 650 or 750 calories a day isn’t difficult—eat salad during lunchtime rather than a sandwich but skip the mayo. If you are having pizza, switch from deep pan to crispy base pizza. Then you can see off a further 1400 to 2000 calories simply by running an hour or playing football with the guys three times a week. As long as you add on to each week’s achievements, it won’t be long until you start seeing results.