Excess belly fat can cause a bigger problem than making your pants tough to zip. It also serves as an alarm that you or your loved ones suffer from an increased risk of developing serious diseases. A bulging tummy means you probably also carry extra fat around your internal organs. Even people in great shape have some fat that serves to cushion organs and store energy. Too much fat can lead to heart disease, diabetes, some kinds of cancer, and other serious health problems.
When you reduce your waist size, you have a chance to improve your figure and your health.
Why Is Losing Belly Fat a Health Issue for Women and Men?
Even if you already know carrying too much flab around your middle poses a health risk, you might not know that it’s even more dangerous for women than it is for men. For instance, consider the results of one study published in Harvard Health.
The study used some common health indicators:
Researchers measured the waist-to-hip ratio, or WTHR, of 500,000 men and women in the UK who were between 40 and 69. You can calculate your own WTHR by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
Typically, a woman’s WTHR should not exceed .86, and a man’s WTHR should not exceed 1.00. For instance, women with a 26-inch waist and 36-inch hips would have a WTHR of .72.
Body Mass Index
The study also calculated the body mass index, or BMI, of the participants. BMI roughly measures the ratio of overall fat to height. Typically, a BMI over 25 means that you are overweight, and a BMI over 30 indicates obesity. If you’d like to estimate your own BMI, you can use this online BMI calculator from Harvard.
For instance, if you are 5’6″ and weigh 155 pounds, you would have a BMI of 25 and be considered just overweight, and if you weigh 186 pounds, you would have an obese BMI of 30. Calculators like this aren’t perfect. For instance, bodybuilders may appear to weigh too much for their height but have very little body fat. Still, they serve as good estimators for many people.
The researchers found a high WTHR correlated with an 18-percent increased risk of a heart attack for women but only a six-percent increased risk for men. In addition, the study concluded that WTHR served as an even better predictor of heart attacks than BMI.
Carrying extra fat on hips and thighs, for example, did not appear to indicate a health risk as much as carrying too much fat around the middle.
Typically fat storage varies between men and women and even between individuals of either sex. While BMI has some flaws, so does WTHR. According to Healthline, this ratio does not work well with children or on any people who are under five feet tall or who have a BMI over 35.
So, How to Lose Belly Fat for You and Your Husband?
By now, you should have some idea that one of the simplest measures you and your spouse can take to reduce health risks is simply to trim your tummy. The reason your waistlines expanded in the first place may also vary, so it’s important to consider one or more different tactics for how to lose belly fat.
Dieting Together to Reduce Belly Fat
As WebMD reported, you cannot find a weight-loss diet with a guarantee that it only targets belly fat. On the other hand, most people lose belly fat first when they lose weight. Also, some people may enjoy an average weight and still carry too much fat around their middle. Still, people with a high WTHR could usually benefit from simply losing a few pounds.
If you’re mostly interested in how to lose belly fat, you might consider diets that incorporate the following information:
- People who eat more soluble fiber tend to also enjoy smaller waistlines. Even an extra serving of legumes, high-fiber grains, fruit, and vegetables a day can help. Mayo Clinic suggests that women should consume at least 21 grams of fiber a day, and men should consume at least 30. A cup of peas or lentils contains 15 to 16.
- In addition, a healthy gut biome can help you encourage your body to maintain a healthy weight. The extra fiber will help feed the health-promoting bacteria in your gut, so these microbes can work with you to improve your digestion and reduce cravings for belly-expanding treats.
- Very often, people who have trouble losing weight simply do not eat enough protein. This article on Runner’s World cited a U.S. Army study that correlated adequate protein intake with a healthier weight and reduced health risks.
You don’t have to starve yourself to reduce your weight or your waistline. If you or your spouse struggles with weight, it could be less about how much you eat and more about eating too much of the wrong foods.
For instance, a diet that includes good food like fish, broccoli, yogurt, lentils, and nuts can help you eat enough protein and fiber to reduce cravings, burn fat, maintain muscle, and feed the gut biome.
Exercise to Build Muscle
You and your spouse should have an easier time losing fat if you increase your activity. Exercise doesn’t just burn fat; it also helps build muscle. In turn, additional muscles consume more energy, so they make it easier to lose fat. In any case, fitting in at least some moderate activity a few times a week can make it a lot easier to enjoy faster results from a healthier diet.
Exercise has also been shown to help improve mood, increase metabolism, and stabilize blood sugar. If you don’t enjoy trips to the gym, consider taking more time to walk your dog or weed your garden.
If you don’t think you have time to exercise, you might just start by getting off the train a stop earlier or parking your car further back in the lot to force yourself to walk more. If you and your husband can hold each other accountable as exercise buddies, you might find you’re both more likely to stick to a routine.
Why Take Belly Fat Seriously?
Extra belly fat won’t just create an unflattering bulge in your bathing suit or little black dress. That extra jiggle around your waistline really means you probably also store too much fat around your heart and other internal organs. Most people can reduce their belly bulge by simply improving their diet and increasing their activity level. You and your husband can both benefit by improving your appearance and your health.
Oh, and an added bonus – studies show couples who exercise and eat healthfully together are almost twice as likely to consider themselves consistently happy in their relationship than those who don’t follow those healthy practices.