When you talk to anyone over 35 struggling with losing weight, he or she will tell you if only they could lose the fat in their waistline they will be happy, yet the waistline is where body fat is the hardest to lose because it is the least exercised part part of the body. Still it can be done.
While an expanding waistline makes you look chubby and your clothes may not feel right on you, hidden in its shadow are more serious health problems. An expanding waistline and belly fat are the source of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
Belly fat is located both over the abdominal muscles and deep within the abdominal cavity next to and between the organs. The deeper layer fat is the most dangerous because it produces hormones and other harmful substances that affect your health. For example, fat next to the liver drains into it, causing a fatty liver, posing a risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.
For many people, the decision on weight loss is made by what they see on the scale, but this is the least accurate information for such important decision. The scale measures your entire body weight, telling you nothing about the amount of body fat and lean tissue you have.
A more accurate measure of your weight is what is called “body composition”. It is the ratio, or relationship between your lean tissue and fat tissue. The lean tissue is composed of muscle, bone, and organs. Fat tissue is composed of essential fat, storage fat and non-essential fat. Obviously, non-essential fat is of no benefit to your body function, and you want to get rid of that.
For instance, if you weigh 180 pounds and your body fat percentage is 30% it means your body fat is 54 pounds and your lean tissue mass is 126 pounds. This measurement is important because the healthy fat levels for an adult woman is 25 – 31% and above 32% is obese. For an adult man the healthy fat levels are 18 – 25% and above 26% is obese. These are some of the methods for measuring body fat percentages:
DEXA – dual energy x-ray absorptiometry – uses whole body scanner and two different low-dose x-rays to read bone mass and soft tissue mass. It measures body fat and bone density. Margin of error is 2 – 3%; considered reliable.
Hydrostatic Weighing is where you sit on a scale inside a tank of water, and blow out as much air as you can. Since fat is lighter than water, the more fat you have the more you will float. The scale measures underwater weight to find your body density. Margin of error is 2- 3%, but accuracy depends on how much air you can blow out of your lungs. Other methods include, calipers – pinch test and body mass index.
Once you’ve found the cause of your expanding waistline and belly fat, most probably high body fat percentage, the next step is to reduce it to a healthy level. You can do this primarily in two major ways: dieting and physical exercise.
To lower your calorie intake and reduce your waistline and belly fat through dieting, eat more fruits and vegetables, cut back on meats high in fat such as burgers and hot dogs; greasy fried foods, sweets and sugary drinks like sodas. A can of soda has 150 calories of sugar and no other nutrients, while a cup of skim milk has 80 calories plus protein and calcium. Add high protein foods like lean meat, chicken with skin off, fish and beans for a balanced diet.
To reduce your waistline and belly fat sensibly, aerobic exercise is recommended. The American College of Sport Medicine defines aerobic exercise as “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature.” This includes activities such as aerobic dancing, bicycling, fitness walking, swimming, running, cross country skiing, stair climbing and more.
Don’t aim at ridding your body entirely of body fat, a certain amount of body fat is essential for the proper functioning of your body. Fat regulates body temperature, cushions and insulates internal organs, and it’s your body’s main source of energy. The objective is to reduce your waistline and belly fat, while maintaining a healthy level of body fat for optimal functioning of your body.