Men and Their Belly Fat

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

men's bellyLove handles, spare tire, beer belly: whatever it’s called, it’s not pretty and it can actually harm a man’s health.

The issue is that weight around the belly is visceral fat that surrounds the organs.

David Cruz, certified personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Dewitt, said that this deep fat increases risk of some chronic disease like cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, 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. Instead, try these expert tips:

Tips from Shauna Burke, certified personal trainer at Pacific Health Club in Liverpool:

• Find what works for you. “Everyone is slightly different. If there was one answer to the question, my profession would be over. It does come down to calories in versus calories out.”

• Go with technology. “Health apps on your phone are awesome. Many people have smart phones. You can track steps, calories, fitness activities and more. Synching a Fit Bit to the phone helps.”

• Count calories accurately. “Studies show 50 percent of people really underestimate their calories. Plus, many overestimate how many they’re burning.”

• Don’t let mobility stop you. “If you’re in a wheelchair, I can design an exercise routine. There are still many things we can do.”

David Cruz, certified personal trainer, certified group fitness instructor and certified spin instructor at Gold’s Gym in Dewitt

• Look at your lifestyle. “See what in your life style can be inhibiting your goals for weight loss. Look at those factors that might restrict you from doing it, like drinking alcohol. That does not help in losing weight or any metabolic function.”

• Get moving. “If you are someone who lives sedentary lifestyle, going to the gym at least three times per week is what I suggest. Focus on large muscle groups and that will help you lose more fat. If people do a lot of cardio, it will help with fat loss, but make sure it’s going to be beneficial. You don’t want to do too much where it will eat up your muscle building. It depends upon the person. Do about 30 minutes of cardio each session three times a week. It’s really not that much. On non-cardio days, do resistance training.”

• Lift weights. “If you can make it past 20 reps, increase the weight, given that your form is perfect. If your form is compensating somewhere, fix your form first and see what your repetitions look like. Do two sets per muscle group.”

• De-stress. “Cortisol may contribute to belly fat and has a lot to do with stress factors. Look into meditation to relax you after a stressful day. Exercise de-stresses your mind and body. Plus, you’ll build muscle which burns more calories and more fat.”

• Don’t try spot reduction. “Many guys think, ‘If I do a lot of ab workouts, I’ll lose a lot of belly fat.’ We can’t choose where we lose fat. Having a good workout plan targets core activation but using larger muscle groups, as long as it’s safe and effective. Make sure it won’t cause injury.”

Tips from Chris Purcell, certified personal trainer and wellness coach at SC 481 Fitness in Syracuse

• Eat “clean” foods. “Skip processed foods. Get in your B vitamins and sunlight, which makes vitamin D in your body, helps balance out the hormones.”

• Keep it simple. “Focus on the basics. In today’s society, we’re looking for instant gratification.”

• Rest enough. “If you’re getting adequate sleep, seven to eight hours a night, you balance out your hormones and lower cortisol so you can handle more stress load in the body. If you continue to get five hours or less, you’re not handling stress increased cortisol.”

• Be patient. “I’ve seen people fail because they set unrealistic goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. If they want to lose 20 pounds in a couple months, that’s doable.”

There are also cosmetic procedures such as tummy tuck, Liposuction, and Coolsculpting that may help you get rid of stubborn fat.