You can’t walk by your scale without weighing yourself. Some days you totally want to ditch that darn scale. The number on the scale can make happy or frustrated. You worry about your weight, but do you ever think about your waist circumference?
What you weigh matters but only to a certain extent. Waist circumference, or where you carry your weight, is even more important.
Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).
Waist Circumference or Belly Fat
Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.
THAT is what we’re talking about here.
Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases)?
Yup – the apple!
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 a lot of the problem actually is. It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.
The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.
Apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.
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. To measure correctly, while standing start at the top of your hip bone, then bring the tape measure around, level with your belly button. Make sure it’s not too tight and that it’s straight. No holding your breath!
You can do it right now…I will wait.
As a woman, if your waist is 33 inches or more, that is a concern. 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. The number is 40 inches for men.
Of course, this isn’t a diagnostic tool. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.
If you have concerns, see your doctor or work with a health coach to make changes to your health.
Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:
- Make sure you are well hydrated. Drink your water.
- Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all, it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the number of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fiber foods are brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
- Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
- Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks.
- Move your body. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights or do body exercises such as push ups and squats. 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 drive abdominal fat.
- Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).
Recipe (High fiber side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- dash salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degree F.
In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Toss. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K. You may want to eat them more often.