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A Fat Belly Can Kill!

You might not be too worried about your weight, but all the same you have a problem with those love handles. Love handles are those bits of fat that stick out the side of your waist. Ironic isn’t it? While it’s called love handles, it’s rarely seen as attractive at all and people always try to find ways to lose them.
Most people want to have fit and toned waists to be able to look good in clothes, good in their swimwear and (gulp!) even good naked! Both men and women want a solution to this, especially those who are entering their 30s and 40s. We tend to accumulate fat in this area because as we get older, we tend to lose muscle mass, and the more muscle mass we lose, the less the body uses up calories. These calories end up being converted to fat, which we retain in certain areas of the body including the arms, legs and torso. Women will also notice that they may be getting chunkier around the middle even if they are not gaining any weight. This is due to hormonal changes, specifically the decrease in estrogen levels.

It would be OK if belly fat was just a slight inconvenience to your looks, but it isn’t—it poses more risks than you think. Belly fat also implies that there is visceral fat—fat which lies deep within your belly. An excessive amount of visceral fat produces changes in the body such as high blood pressure, imbalance in good and bad cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance. It also causes increased estrogen levels which can lead to higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancers. Women should keep in mind to maintain their waistlines at a maximum of 35 inches, while men should keep it at a maximum of 40 inches.

In order to start losing your love handles you should keep in mind two important things: watch what you eat and make exercise a part of your daily habit. When it comes to eating, incorporate more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet, while steering clear of too much animal products and processed meats. If you want to eat meats, it’s best to choose fish and white meats such as turkey meat or chicken breast meat (without skin). When choosing red meats, choose the leaner cuts. Avoid refined grain products such as white breads and regular white pasta—always choose the whole grain version which is more complex to digest and therefore doesn’t go straight to your belly as fat.

You should also watch out about the portion sizes of your meals. Just because you’re eating healthy doesn’t mean you should gobble up as much of it as you can. Try to eat three times a day at regular intervals, with smaller snacks in between to keep you from getting hungry. Keep away from junk food, instead snack on whole grain bars, fruit cups, or yogurt.

Belly fat is fat, and the way to lose fat is through aerobic exercise. You should concentrate on losing fat and then supplement it with strength training that emphasizes losing belly fat. Make yourself sweat by taking on biking, jogging or brisk walking at least 30 minutes a day. It’s very hard to lose abdominal fat just by doing crunches—it doesn’t work that way. You need to pair it up with proper diet and aerobic exercise.

Your belly-specific strength exercise can include the traditional crunches, starting off with around 2 sets of 16 repetitions. You can follow this up with a variation of the crunches: with your back lying flat on the ground and your legs bent at a 90 degree angle, reach up as far as you can towards your feet. Try to do as many as you can. You should also work those sides (obliques) by lying on your side, putting your hand behind your ear and bending upward to let your elbow come as close to your knees as possible. Do this on both sides. You could also work your abdominal muscles without doing too much movement by supporting your body weight with your arms. Lie face down on the ground and support your upper body weight with your forearms (bent). Your lower body should be supported by the tips of your toes. Try to keep this position for as long as you can and you will notice the tensing of your abdominal muscles along with the rest of your body.