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Battling Belly Fat

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Dear Dr. Levister: I’ve lost weight but can’t seem to get rid of the “spare tire” around my middle. What gives? H.E.

Dear H.E.: Having a “spare tire” doesn’t just look bad – belly fat can kill you. Too much body fat can be dangerous, raising our risk of a number of serious diseases.

Belly fat also known as visceral fat, is associated with increases in blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels. Therefore, people with fat concentrated in the waist have a greater risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, and diabetes than individuals who carry extra pounds in their hips, buttocks and thighs. The average American has about 30 billion fat cells each of them is filled with greasy substances called lipids. When you pump doughnuts, corn chips and Snickers bars into your system those fat cells can expand – up to 1,000 times their original size. Overtime those cells start behaving like a long-running sitcom. They don’t go away.

It is believed that visceral fat is more dangerous because it encases vital organs and is metabolized by the liver, which turns it into blood cholesterol. Inactive people who eat large amounts of saturated fats – are likely to have larger stores of visceral fat. For women, a waist size of more than 35 inches signals potential trouble. Both diet and exercise affect the amount of visceral fat deposited around the waist.

While calories and fat grams are an important contributor to excess belly fat, you may be the victim of a stressful, busy life that sends fat straight to your middle. Belly fat has many sources to include a lack of sleep. It can also result from too much stress in your life. The best way to banish a big belly is to eat fat-burning foods, which include lean proteins, fibrous carbohydrates and whole grains along with a regular dose of interval cardio exercise. Your healthcare professional can help you set up a diet and exercise plan that is safe and effective for you.

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