Belly Fat—It’s More Dangerous Than You Think

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Weight Loss
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Abdominal fat is the most dangerous type of obesity. That’s because it’s packed within the abdominal cavity, surrounding your organs. Carrying a “spare tire” has been linked to increased risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Now, a new study shows that belly fat (or visceral fat) also increases your risk of sudden cardiac death.

After accounting for multiple risk factors, University of Minnesota scientists found that people with an elevated waist-to-hip ratio are at significantly higher risk for sudden cardiac death. Specifically, women with a waist-to-hip ratio greater than 0.8 and men with a ratio above 0.95 are heading into risky territory.

To calculate your waist-to-hip ratio, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. If your ratio is high, don’t despair—belly fat responds quickly to diet, exercise, and other therapies.

Here are a few ways to get rid of abdominal fat:

  • Engage in vigorous aerobic exercise. Since visceral fat is more metabolically active than other types of fat, it comes off easier. This explains why relatively small amounts of weight loss (as little as 5–10 percent of total weight) can result in big gains in health: much of that loss is visceral fat.
  • Fill up on protein. This will help curb your hunger and appetite. Aim for about four ounces of lean protein (20–25 g) with every meal. Good sources include fish and seafood, skinless poultry, eggs and egg whites, nonfat or low-fat cheeses and Greek yogurt, tofu, nuts, and soy and whey protein.
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods. Although there are several you can choose from, I recommend beans and vegetables because they’re low in sugar. I also suggest incorporating a quarter cup of freshly ground flaxseed into your diet each day. Taking a fiber supplement like psyllium or glucomannan before meals will also help prevent you from overeating. Your goal should be at least 30 grams of fiber every day.
  • Address underlying medical conditions. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and sleep apnea are associated with higher amounts of abdominal fat.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any natural weight loss tips you’d like to share?

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