Call it beer belly, love handles, spare tire: doctors say men with large bellies have increased risk of death by various associated diseases
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Love handles, spare tire, beer belly: whatever it’s called, it’s not pretty and it can actually harm a man’s health.
“It endangers the stability of the core and can cause compensation with your hips and pelvis,” said Justin Draper, certified personal trainer and owner of Jada Blitz Training, Inc. in Williamsville. “You lose some flexibility and daily functional activities are more difficult as well.”
Belly fat can also harm health. The issue is that weight around the belly is visceral fat that surrounds the organs. Draper said that it can increase risk of Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. This deep fat has also been associated with chronic disease like cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and sleep apnea.
University of Rochester Medicine Primary Care physician Louis Papa said that the location of these fat deposits — not the overall weight — is what’s so vital.
“People with a normal body mass index (BMI) but with more belly fat are at a greater risk of disease than people with a high BMI but normal amount of belly fat,” Papa said.
He added that people with an abnormal amount of belly fat have a 51 percent increased risk of death by various associated diseases than those with a normal amount of belly fat.
“Since belly fat is related to insulin resistance and inflammatory changes, that puts you at higher risk for these diseases,” Papa said. “These fat cells have a lot of hormonal activity. The belly/hip fat produces a lot of endocrine and hormonal activity that puts you at risk for diabetes and heart disease.”
So how can you specifically get rid of belly fat?
“We don’t know a good way to get rid of just belly fat,” Papa said.
How to Get Rid of It
Although lots of marketing hype promises to blast belly fat with a product or technique, it’s not that easy since weight loss can’t target one area. Here what two personal trainers from the area recommend.
• Be honest. “The toughest thing I deal with is people don’t seek the right guidance and don’t hold themselves accountable. They’re afraid to be honest with themselves and their trainer or anyone with what’s going on. I don’t know if it’s out of fear of letting their coach down but it holds them back. They never progress.”
• Don’t try to spot reduce. “There’s no such thing as spot reduction. It’s just not possible. It doesn’t matter how hard you train your abs. It’s not going to happen. You have to get your diet in check and you have to commit. The mind is the most powerful ‘muscle’. People find more excuses, don’t trust the process and spin their wheels.
• Make long-term changes. “The goal is to change your lifestyle. Find some form of exercise and dietary habits you can stick with. You can exercise a lot but not eating right and you won’t see progress. You have to have all your ducks in a row. It takes time. You won’t see dramatic changes in two weeks. Some won’t see dramatic change for six months.”
• Get expert help. “People might not be surrounding themselves with the right people. Find someone with whom you gel and connect and wants to help you. As the client, you should not feel embarrassed if you eat something you shouldn’t or slip up one day. The person should be understanding, but know when to put their foot down.”
• Don’t delay. “Just get started. It’s never too late to start. Everyone starts somewhere. I have new weight lifters coming in who see a guy who’s lifting for years, and I tell them don’t be discouraged. He started once.”
• Don’t give up. “People get so caught up with eating habits and when they do deviate just 200 calories, they lose their minds and that day goes out of control and they’re back to square one. It’s long term. If you develop good eating habits and are OK with a slice of pizza or a slice of cake and you understand that won’t ruin everything, you’ve succeeded. It makes the journey more fun and it’s not mentally exhausting to keep track of what you’re eating all the time.”
— Vincent Mangione, certified personal trainer, Kenmore Barbell & Fitness, Buffalo
• Improve the diet. “I get my clients on a flexible diet approach. They count their macronutrients. My Fitness Pal is a great app. It’s about taking control of their diet and making good food choices helps create a healthful lifestyle for themselves and getting out of old habits. We work on portion control.”
• Learn about food. “Educate yourself on proper nutrition. Read food labels before it enters your body. Be cognitive. Understand proteins, carbohydrates and fats and how they assimilate in your body. Protein is the basic building block of muscle. Carbohydrates is the primary source of energy and fat is number two and helps with skin, hair and nails. A well-balanced diet is one that doesn’t exclude one macronutrient over the other.”
— Justin Draper, certified personal trainer and owner of Jada Blitz Training, Inc. in Williamsville