How to shrink your belly

How risky is your waist?

 |  Hello, Health  |  3-minute read |   18-09-2017
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Got a jiggling belly? You’ve got reason to worry!

Because while it might look jolly on the Laughing Buddha, it can be seriously detrimental to your health. And that's true even if you are thin otherwise.

This is exactly what I was trying to explain to my 26-year-old cousin who shrugged off his de-cidedly junk-and-beer belly with, "Oh it's nothing. It's protruding only because my posture is bad. My weight is just fine. I check it every day!"

But then his blood pressure is already high even though he is only in his twenties. Why? Let me explain.

The fact is we need to understand that while Basal Metabolic Index (BMI) tells us where we stand as far as the right weight for our height is concerned, to truly understand our risk quotient for diabetes, and cardiac and other health disorders we need to go a step further and measure our waist circumference (tummy's girth) too.

burger_091817062815.jpgMaybe all those burger lunches are not just going straight to your tummy, but staying there too and raising your blood pressure surreptitiously but surely. Photo: Chilli's

This is important because it's not just your extra weight that is risky, but "where" you carry your excess pounds matters greatly too.

So go get the measuring tape out and check. To know the safe measurements, read my earlier post on the pot belly

An even better measurement of risk is the ratio of your waist circumference (the narrowest point on your abdomen) to your hip circumference (the widest point).

A ratio of more than 1.0 for a man (in other words your waist is bigger than your hips) or 0.8 for a woman means you urgently need to take a dekko at your lifestyle choices — and rectify them.

Maybe all those burger lunches are not just going straight to your tummy, but staying there too and raising your blood pressure surreptitiously but surely.

walk-small_020617075_091817062848.jpgThe bottom line is, it is important to make the effort to shrink our belly.

Research clearly shows that people with fat around their abdominal area are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure as compared to those with similar body mass index but fat concentrations elsewhere in the body (say in the thighs, arms, et al). 

There's more bad news. According to research, even a non-smoker belly fat hoarder has a high risk of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a disorder where the lungs give away way too soon.

Plus, belly fat increases risk for asthma, osteoporosis and diabetes too — the reasons for which I had explained in my earlier piece.

It seems fat behaves differently when pushed close to organs like the kidney, liver and pancreas.

To be fair, genetics does play a major role in how much fat gets deposited in your middle as you gain weight, but the good news is that visceral (abdomen) fat does come off with concentrated weight loss efforts.

But more than just weight loss, it takes conscious effort to make sure that the belly stays sucked in. So look very closely at not just the amount but also the kind of fat you are eating. It's a good idea to zero in more on unsaturated fats (MUFA and PUFA) and understand that both high-fat and high-sugar foods are friends of abdominal fat and fatty liver.

Yes, it's time to curb the 4.00pm chips munching right away!

The soda scare is real too. Sugary soda, packed with empty calories, is obviously a diet disaster, but the diet versions can expand your waistline too. That's because they are loaded with artificial sweeteners, which are a hundred to thousand times sweeter than regular sugar.

These trick our metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way and cause our body to pump out insulin - the fat storage hormone - which lays down more belly fat. For more about how stress and smoking affect belly fat and the right exercise to do, read this story

The bottom line is, it is important to make the effort to shrink our belly. 'Coz it not only does it look ungainly, it is "seriously" terrible for our health too.

Also read: How running changed my life

Writer

Kavita Devgan Kavita Devgan @kavitadevgan

The writer is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico).

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