Spare tyre, dad bod, skinny fat – whatever you call it, weight around your waist can be deadly. Here’s how to deflate the danger
Discover the perils of visceral fat to slash your risk of serious illness.
1 FAT CHANCE
You may be at more risk than you realise. Around two-thirds of Australian men are overweight or obese. And, in many cases, the excess kilos are deposited around their middles as visceral fat. Your fleshy belly surrounds your liver, stomach and intestines and, rather than sit flabbily inert, is biologically active, imbalancing your hormones and raising your risk of metabolic and cardiovascular complications. So far, so bad.
2 MIND GAINS
It sneaks up on you because you’re hardwired to store fat: in evolutionary terms, it’s part of your body’s system of stockpiling energy. Now that you’re no longer hunting or gathering, however, it’s a problem. Outsmart biology by starting your day with a high-fat breakfast of avocados and eggs (or sausages). This promotes metabolic plasticity, making you burn more belly fat for energy*.
3 GUT PUNCH
A muffin top is often poor in biodiversity. Keep an eye on your toilet: in a recent study, scientists found that a hard, lumpy stool has fewer beneficial bacterial species. The fix, according to research, is a 10g increase in daily fibre, which boosts your microbiome and is also associated with a 3.7 per cent drop in visceral fat. Add two tablespoons of psyllium husks to your cereal or shake.
4 HEART OF THE MATTER
As your belly grows, its impact on your heart is determined by your waist-tohip ratio. To work this out, measure both and divide waist by hips. A score of 0.9 or higher indicates central obesity, which means your cardiac risks are higher. Hit the weights: muscle limits the dangers of visceral fat** by extracting glucose from your blood, helping your liver process fatty acids and reducing inflammation.
5 BROWN IS THE NEW WHITE
The surf beckons – and you can use cold water to your advantage in the battle against the bulge. Not all body fat is harmful. While visceral fat is “white fat”, associated with an unhealthy metabolism, “brown fat” burns kilojoules and helps the body to generate heat. Training in cold water “turns on” brown fat, stoking your metabolism and burning off your belly^.
IF YOU LET IT KEEP GROWING, BELLY WILL GET YOU.