The Dangers of Belly Fat in Men
Jun 26, 2017 - 11:51:45 AM
Learn why belly fat is harmful and what you can do to reduce your waist size.
The trouble with belly fat is that it's not limited to the extra layer of padding located just below the skin (subcutaneous fat). It also includes visceral fat — which lies deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your internal organs.
Regardless of your overall weight, having a large amount of belly fat increases your risk of:
Your weight is largely determined by how you balance the calories you eat with the energy you burn. If you eat too much and exercise too little, you're likely to pack on excess pounds — including belly fat.
Aging does play a role too. As you age, you lose muscle — especially if you're not physically active. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, men in their 50s need about 200 fewer calories daily than they do in their 30s due to this muscle loss.
Your genes also can contribute to your chances of being overweight or obese, as well as play a role in where you store fat. However, balancing the calories you consume with activity can help prevent weight gain, despite your age and genetics.
Drinking excess alcohol can cause you to gain belly fat — the beer belly. However, beer alone isn't to blame. Drinking too much alcohol of any kind can increase belly fat, because alcohol contains calories. Although some research suggests wine might be an exception, if you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation.
For men age 65 and younger, moderation means up to two drinks a day. For men older than age 65, it means up to one drink a day. The less you drink, the fewer calories you'll consume and the less likely you'll be to gain belly fat.
So how do you know if you have too much belly fat? Measure your waist:
For men, a waist measurement of more than 40 inches (102 centimeters) indicates an unhealthy concentration of belly fat and a greater risk of health problems.
You can tone abdominal muscles with crunches or other targeted abdominal exercises, but just doing these exercises won't get rid of belly fat. However, visceral fat responds to the same diet and exercise strategies that can help you shed excess pounds and lower your total body fat. To battle the bulge:
Losing belly fat takes effort and patience. To lose excess fat and keep it from coming back, aim for slow and steady weight loss. Consult your doctor for help getting started and staying on track.