The weight loss industry is geared towards women, with all their diets, gadgets and products, because they know women face the most social pressure about their weight, but men’s bodies face relatively little scrutiny. In reality, women are more likely to make healthy nutrition and exercise a part of their daily lives than men, and in terms of health, more men are walking around with dangerous fat deposits that many laugh off as just a big ol’ beer belly.
Men and women carry fat differently; while women tend to gain weight in their hips, giving them those lovely pear-shaped curves they are always trying to get rid of, men gain weight around their abdomen. Abdominal fat deposits, or visceral fat, is the most dangerous of the two, and a huge indicator of one’s risk of heart disease.
This is not to say that women cannot have dangerous abdominal fat, as a diet high in saturated fat and a sedentary lifestyle will cause anyone to gain visceral fat.
What’s the big deal? Those with excess abdominal fat are at a higher risk of heart disease, dyslipidemia (high bad cholesterol, low good cholesterol) high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.
Because of this, over all body fat is not the only thing to worry about. Waist to hip ratio, and waist circumference is also a priority because the bigger the difference in hip to waist circumference, the higher the risk.
Waist circumference is easy to measure and according to The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, a healthy waist circumference in men is around 102 cm (40 in) or less, and for women 88 cm (35 in) or less.
The good news is visceral fat is more metabolically active, which means it responds better to diet and exercise than other body fat. You can lower your waist circumference, and thus, your risk of an early death, but eating lots of whole grains, which have been proven to shrink belly fat in patients faster than a regulated diet with processed grains, and get in plenty of exercise to get your belly fat burning into high gear.
Men need to pay attention to their bodies, too. Women may face more social pressures to look a certain way, but how you look can be a big red flag for what’s going on inside of your body- even for men.