Most of us are overweight, but where you store those extra pounds matters. Men who gain belly fat first are at greater risk of serious health problems.
Fat cells are active cells that make and secrete hormones and molecules that affect other tissues in your body. The fat located in your abdomen (visceral fat) is particularly active and dangerous to your health. Visceral fat can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes and some forms of cancer. For instance, visceral fat cells release fatty acids that impair your body’s ability to break down insulin, too much insulin in your system can lead to diabetes.
To gage your belly size for health risks lie down and wrap a soft tape measure around your waistline (above your hip bone and beneath your belly button). Be sure that you do not hold your breath or suck your belly in while you are measuring. If your waistline is greater than forty inches you most likely have too much belly fat.
There are several ways to reduce your B.O.B. Most importantly, you need to get up and move around. You cannot ‘spot burn’ belly fat, but the good news is that most people that lose weight will lose it within the abdominal area first. Aerobic exercise focused on burning calories is better than exercise like sit-ups or crunches. Sit-ups and crunches will strengthening the muscles under the fat but will not reduce fat.
Restricting your calorie intake will also help you to lose the belly fat. A sustainable diet does not involve drastically reducing your intake of calories, there should be a slight reduction. I recommend that you consult a physician or nutritionist before starting a diet plan.
Any effort is better than no effort as little changes can help. Switching out refined grains for whole grains changes the glucose and insulin response in your body, which hastens the burn of visceral fat. Reducing your intake of trans fats and sticking with monounsaturated fats (found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soybeans, chocolate) can also help speed up the reduction of your belly fat.
Whatever your weight, remember to be patient and compassionate with yourself as you incorporate healthy changes into your life. Change is not easy, and it takes time.
Lastly, losing your B.O.B. should not be about a cosmetic change or an effort to conform to some marketed image of what a gay man ‘should’ look like. Losing your belly is about caring for your long term health and, my experience is, that when you care about yourself and change for yourself, you have a greater chance of reaching your goal and are ultimately more satisfied by the changes you have made. After all, self-care is about caring for, and about, yourself!