Posted January 20, 2017, updated February 16, 2018
STAY OUT OF THE BELLY FAT DANGER ZONE The article, “The Most Dangerous Fat is the Easiest to Lose” by Trinh Le for Under Armor blog, MyFitnessPal.com has easy to read, understandable, and actionable information about abdominal fat. Not sure about the truth of the “easiest to lose” statement, though.
The author defines “belly fat” and explains how to identify it beyond just looking down at your midsection, by measuring waist and hips as well as calculating the waist: hip ratio. The “apples and pears” body type comparison helps us visualize that it is the deposition of fat around abdominal organs (which shows up as a bigger waist) that makes it so dangerous.
However, it’s possible to exceed the 35-inch (women) and 40-inch (men) waist circumference that marks the presence of this kind of adiposity and still have a less dangerous pear shape and a normal waist-to-hip ratio. Thus, the waist circumference is the most telling number that we can easily determine at home.
If you have a measuring tape, demonstrate to yourself what a 35- or a 40-inch waist measurement would look like on you. It’s a bit scary to see that this size is NOT HUGE. It is an incentive to stay the SAME size or even DECREASE your waist inches if you think you are too close for comfort to the belly fat ‘danger zone’.
The medical reason to shrink your waist size is explained by a Mayo Clinic article about Metabolic Syndrome. It provides the guidelines employed by the National Institutes of Health to diagnose this condition: “you have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these traits”, listed below, “or are taking medication to control them”. The number one component is excess abdominal fat which reveals itself as a big waist.
Mayo Clinic staff, the authors of the piece indicate that “if you know you have at least one component of the metabolic syndrome, ask your doctor whether you need testing” for the remaining four. Having metabolic syndrome increases risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and stroke, and diabetes.
The Trinh Le article outlines some steps that can be taken to reduce belly fat, which include focusing your efforts on decreasing inches rather that weight, exercising daily, cutting back on added sugars and alcohol while eating a balanced diet, and sleeping and de-stressing. These are exactly steps recommended to become a better runner/athlete!
THE GOOD NEWS: regarding exercise, research studies using older overweight men and women with type 2 diabetes and overweight young men have shown that high intensity interval training (HIIT) resulted in significant reductions in both abdominal and subcutaneous fat.
This means that for the purposes of “waist control”, performing roughly three, 20-30 minute HIIT sessions each week over 3-4 months can help lower measurements and at the same time boost running power.
Last week’s post SCIENCE FRIDAY: ABDOMINAL STRENGTH (Part 1) provided new research results that suggest strength training, involving certain abdominal muscle groups, may be a shortcut to decreasing the specific inflammation generated by belly fat, usually achieved by weight loss. Thus, exercise in general fights “the kind of whole body inflammation associated with chronic diseases”; targeting the abdominal muscles may specifically reduce “adiposity associated inflammation”, which is attributed to dangerous belly fat.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
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Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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