When I had an abundance of belly fat, formally known as, visceral fat, I felt like crap! In my early 40’s I was thinking, “this must be what it feels like getting old.” Lack of energy, migraines, arthritic knee, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being obese sucked. The hell with that! Losing 65 pounds and now in my early 50s I feel better than ever. I carried a lot of fat in my face, neck and even though I bought shirts 2-3 times larger than I wear now, you couldn’t miss my visceral belly fat. Even my arms and legs were bloated.
I wore polos back then that were XL and my t-shirts were XL or XXL. My pant size was a 36 and I even bought a pair of 38s and now I sport a 30/31 pant size. Think of the savings in fabric…ha! My polo shirts are now small (hard to find) and t-shirts are medium but what is most important, my body feels fantastic and I’ve reduced my risk significantly to any chronic illness I was headed down the path with including heart disease, you name the cancer, and other illnesses. Here, I share what I found out about the risks of carrying excess belly fat.
To start, I thought having this excess fat was the result, period. But it’s not only the result of poor health, it also causes many other health issues including (thank you Dr. Michael Greger for the following information via video):
- Back Pain including degeneration of the lumbar disks
- Compressed kidneys due to visceral adipose tissue
- High blood pressure as a result of sodium being pushed back into the blood stream
- Increasing cancer risk
- A state of chronic inflammation (also a cancer-promoting event)
- Type-2 Diabetes (Insulin resistance which also promotes cancer growth)
- Obesity is the most important single risk factor
- No. 1 cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult blindness
- Get this, many of the currently available glucose-lowering drugs are associated with weight gain…big Pharma is so great, right?!?!
- Breast cancer due to a new home to store estrogen production
So how do we know if we are healthy when it comes to belly fat? There are a couple methods to go by states, Dr. Greger, with those being Body Mass Index (BMI) and/or measuring body fat percentage. These are great rules of thumb and certainly get you close enough to know if you are healthy or not. Honestly, I didn’t need an equation to tell me I felt like sh*t then or currently feeling like a champ. Here are a couple things Dr. Greger says to consider in his video, What’s the Ideal Waist Size:
- Body Mass Index – a weight-to-height ratio, calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by the square of one’s height in meters and used as an indicator of obesity and underweight.
- Categories include:
- Obese – 30 and over (I was 30.3 – 6′ tall and 224 pounds)
- Overweight – between 25-29.9
- Healthy – between 18.5-24.9
- Underweight – under 18.5
- Dr. Greger’s advice is to have the Body Mass Index (BMI) under 22 vs. 24.9.
- BMI is a stronger predictor of Cardio Vascular Disease mortality than were total adiposity markers including body fat percentage
- At the same BMI however, as your waistline goes up so does your risk of mortality up to twice the amount!
- As we get older we lose weight in muscle and bone. In one study he shares – between the ages of 25-65, the average woman will lose approximately 13 pounds of bone and muscle mass, while her visceral fat will nearly quadruple in size. The average man’s visceral fat will double in size in the same age range.
- Risk of metabolic complications begin at waist circumference size of:
- Women – 30.5 inches (substantial risk at 34.5 inches)
- Men – 37 inches (substantial risk at 40 inches)
- Categories include:
The good news is the visceral fat is the easiest to lose by being the first to go when losing weight and chronic illness risk immediately starts to drop. It’s an amazing feeling when you lose the fat. The best way to do this is living a whole plant food lifestyle. Simple as that. I eat more food than I used to and dropped five bowling balls. It’s simply eating the right foods. It’s most glorious.
– Add Health to Your Life
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