This Is Making You Fat…Right Now

A man in a checkered shirt and a large bellyOf all the fat that can accumulate on your body, which is the most dangerous?

Correct answer?

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Belly fat. Excess accumulation of belly fat is more dangerous than excess fat around your hips and thighs.

Read: 9 Facts You Never Knew About Your Weight

Belly fat is associated with serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

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Your genes can contribute to your being overweight and help determine where you carry this extra fat, but poor lifestyle choices are likely to worsen the issue.

What Health Risks Are Linked To Belly Fat?

Belly fat appears to be especially bad for the heart. Studies have linked belly fat to heart failure, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular problems. It also has been associated with osteoporosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and other health problems.

Watch Those Calories!

Read: What To Eat, Where To Eat, How To Eat: 10 Easy Steps

Eating high-fat foods is not helpful, but excess calories of any kind can increase your waistline and contribute to belly fat. Still, there is no single cause of belly fat. Genetics, diet, age, and lifestyle can all play a role. Changing dietary habits can help you fight the battle of the bulge and fight belly fat: Read labels, reduce saturated fats, increase the amount of fruits and veggies you eat, and control and reduce your portions.

Excess calories — whether from alcohol, sweetened beverages, or oversized portions of food — can increase belly fat. Our bodies need calories, yet gram for gram, alcohol has almost as many calories as fat.

Alcohol does seem to have a particular association with an increased waistline, though. In general, that’s because when you drink alcohol, your liver is too busy burning off alcohol to burn off fat, leaving you with a beer belly. Studies show that alcohol can cause you to feel hungry by affecting hormones that regulate a sense of satiety.

Why Are Trans Fats So Bad?

Which of the following fats not only can make you gain weight, but also can move fat from other parts of your body to your belly? Trans fats. Researchers at Wake Forest University found that trans fats, which are created by partially hydrogenated oil, increase the amount of fat around the belly and redistribute fat tissue to the abdomen from other parts of the body. Trans fats may be found in such foods as margarine, pastries, cookies and crackers, and fried and convenience foods.

Read: Dangerous Ingredients In Your Pantry

The Foods That Fight Belly Fat

Which foods do studies show may help fight belly fat? Green tea, in combination with exercise, could help you lose weight, according to the Journal of Nutrition. Researchers think substances in green tea known as catechins stimulate the body to burn calories and enhance loss of belly fat. Blueberries also show promise, albeit in rodents. In one study, rats bred to become obese were fed either a high-fat diet or a low-fat diet rich in blueberries. Rats fed a blueberry-rich diet had less abdominal fat.

What’s The Real Problem With Fast Food?

Any fast food options are typically high-fat, calorie-dense foods that are eaten in large portions — all of which contribute to over-consumption of calories, weight gain, and an increase in belly fat when eaten frequently. Many fast food restaurants don’t provide nutritional information, but studies have shown that when this is available, people tend to pick lower-calorie meals.

Why Are Researchers Against Diet Soda?

According to the American Heart Association, “soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the No. 1 source of added sugars in the American diet.” Added sugars mean added calories – something you want to avoid to help with weight loss and cut down on belly fat. Yet, high-fructose corn syrup has gradually replaced refined sugar as the main sweetener in soft drinks and has been blamed as a potential contributor to the obesity epidemic.

Does switching to diet sodas help? Although some research has suggested that people who drink artificially sweetened sodas as part of a calorie-restricted diet do lose weight, other studies have suggested that diet soft drinks could even lead to weight gain. For now, there’s no conclusive evidence either way.

Read: 3 Diet Changes That Make All The Difference

What’s So Great About Fiber?

To trim your waistline, add whole grains to your diet. For example, choose brown or wild rice instead of white rice. Refined and other highly processed foods can contribute to weight gain and interfere with weight loss. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a calorie-controlled diet rich in whole grains can trim extra fat from the waistline of obese subjects.

What’s So Great About Whole Grains?

Couscous, spaghetti, and corn flakes are made from refined grains (though whole grain options may be available). But popcorn is a whole grain food that can boost fiber. The best way to prepare popcorn is with an air-popper, which requires no oil for cooking. Read labels to see what oils have been added to microwave popcorn.

All else being equal, though, whole grains are better than refined grains because they tend to be high in fiber and take longer to digest. This satisfies your hunger better and helps lower blood glucose levels and reduce fat.

Why Do Men Store More Belly Fat Than Women?

Overall, men tend to store fat in the abdominal area more than women do, thanks to sex hormone differences. Before age 40, women tend to store most of their fat in the hips, thighs, and buttocks. After 40, as estrogen levels drop, body fat is redistributed to the abdomen.

Is Belly Fat Really Harder To Lose Than Other Types Of Fat?

Read: The Right Way To Walk Off That Belly Fat

When you lose weight, you’re much more likely to lose it in your midsection. Losing weight on a well-balanced plan will melt body fat, including belly fat. The best way to decrease your waist size is through healthy eating and regular exercise.

Why Can’t I Just Do Some Crunches To Lose Weight?

Doing sit-ups, crunches, or other abdominal exercises will strengthen your core muscles and help you lose fat, but they don’t specifically work on belly fat. In other words, spot exercise won’t decrease belly fat. The only way to lose belly fat (or any kind of fat) is through dieting and exercise. Aerobic exercises, such as running, swimming, cycling, and tennis, are some of the best to help reduce body fat.

What’s The Best Belly Fat-Blasting Plan?

Most scientific evidence suggests that a calorie-controlled diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, beans, nuts, seeds, lean meat, fish, eggs, and poultry is the foundation for a diet that provides all the nutrients you need while helping to whittle your waistline. Weight loss experts recommend combining this diet with 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

6 Things Every Healthy Man Knows

A man sitting on a rowing machineThere are certain habits that every man needs to do to stay healthy and energetic.

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1. Watch Your Diet

Eating right most of the time is an essential part of taking care of yourself – no matter how much you work out, you can’t maintain a healthy weight unless you stick to a healthy diet. So be sure to satisfy your appetite with good-for-you foods, and make an effort to keep an eye on calories.

Men are often surprised that even though they are exercising four days a week, they still need to eat well.

  • You at three meals a day
  • Portion control is the key

2. Stress Less

Stress. It can wreak havoc on your sex drive, increase your blood pressure and overwork your heart. That’s dangerous. In a 2011 study, middle-aged and older men who reported years of moderate to high levels of stress were more than 40% more likely to die than men with low stress. Unfortunately, as every man knows, there’s a lot to stress over. Long hours and work-related travel can translate into tension at home. In addition, it can lead to unhealthy behaviors, like eating too much or drinking more than usual. Over time, you increase your risk of weight gain, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

The best solution: exercise.

3. Exercise

To get or stay fit, you have to get and stay active. According to the latest federal guidelines, that means a cardio workout of at least 30 sweat-inducing minutes five days a week plus two days of dumbbell workouts or other weight-training activity to build and maintain muscles. Crunched for time? Kick up the intensity to vigorous exercise, such as jogging, riding a bike fast, or playing singles tennis, and you can get your cardio workout in just 25 minutes three days a week.

Exercise protects against so many conditions — from heart disease to colon cancer to depression — that the best choice is to start exercising now, no matter how healthy you think you are. But if you’re older than 45, discuss your exercise plans with your doctor before you start. Together, you can tailor a workout your body can handle and benefit from.

4. Do NOT ignore your mental health

At least 6 million men in the United States suffer from depression each year, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. Today’s news continue to be populated with reports of black male celebrities committing suicide. However, many guys don’t like to talk about their feelings or ask for help.

Identifying problems, such as a lack of sleep or loss of interest in spending time with friends, is a crucial part of any man’s health checkup. Depression is more than simply feeling sad, unmotivated, and without energy. Depression is a real illness, and it can be life-threatening. That’s especially true for men because it increases the risk of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Depression is also the leading cause of suicide — and men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives.

5. Sleep

It’s hard to overestimate sleep’s importance. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are all linked to not enough sleep. So are excess weight and mood disorders. A recent study showed that young men who skimp on shut-eye have lower levels of testosterone than men who are well-rested. Meanwhile, older men risk high blood pressure if they don’t get enough deep sleep.

Sleep disorders can also have physical causes. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), for example, disrupts breathing and forces you to wake up to draw a deep breath. It affects an estimated 4% to 9% of middle-aged men (twice the rate in women), yet as many as 90% of cases go undiagnosed. OSA raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure as well as car crashes, which are more common among the sleep-deprived.

Here are some good sleep habits to follow:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening
  • Don’t eat large meals at night
  • Skip the alcohol right before bedtime
  • Use the bedroom for sleep and sex only.

If these measures don’t help, see your doctor.

6. Your sexual health affects your overall health

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a concern that goes beyond the bedroom. ED is a risk factor for heart disease. In a 2010 study published in the journal Circulation, men with ED were twice as likely to have a heart attack and nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease as other men. Also, men who have trouble with erections tend to be overweight or obese, and to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Other factors are frequently at play with ED as well:

  • Diabetes
  • Substance abuse
  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation

For a long-term solution, you need to make some lifestyle changes. Sexual health depends on getting and staying fit, physically and mentally.