Take a long hard look in the mirror. If you are a man with thin legs and arms but are carrying a little (or a lot) of extra weight around the middle, you are what I like to lovingly call a skinny-fat guy. When you were young, you most likely had the metabolism of a hyena, scarfing down anything that came your way and never gaining one pound. But as you got older, your body changed. Your metabolism slowed down. You began to lose muscle tone and store more fat. For the average “skinny-fat guy,” a majority of this extra fat is stored around your stomach. No matter how many sit ups you do, you can’t seem to lose this pesky belly fat. So, what on earth is this “belly fat” and why is to so hard to get rid of?
There are three different types of fat in the human body. The fat that dwells in our bloodstream is called triglycerides. The fat that lies just underneath the skin’s surface is called subcutaneous fat. And then there is belly fat, the fatty layer of tissue located under your abdominal muscles, and this fat is called the omentum. Visualize a row of stockings hanging up to dry. When you have little omentum fat, this is basically what it would look like underneath your stomach muscles. However, when you are carrying extra weight in your midsection (like many of you skinny-fat guys are) the omentum thickens and wraps around your organs, pressing against your diaphragm, lungs, intestines, liver, kidneys and heart. As a result, everything has to work extra hard to function properly. In addition, an enlarged omentum triggers the kidneys to secrete hormones that raise your blood pressure in effort to fight back. What causes the omentum to be enlarged in your skinny fat body? Well, there may be a number of factors.
Often, having a large midsection is hereditary. Certain body types, including the skinny-fat body type (commonly called an apple type body) tend to carry extra weight in the belly area. Another reason for extra belly fat is stress. When a person is under prolonged stress, the body responds by releasing the hormone cortisol. This causes the omentum to store more fat then it normally would. A third reason you may have extra weight in the middle is as simple as what you are eating and drinking. As fun as pounding six packs of beer with your buddies may seem, it’s wreaking serious havoc inside your body. Those Twinkies sure are tasty, but white processed sugary foods are of no use to your major organs and muscles; so guess where it ends up?
Don’t worry. You are not doomed to have a robust middle for the rest of your life. Losing momentum fat is tricky but doable. And the good news is, once you start making these physiological changes, your body quickly responds with feeling better, even before you actually see physical changes. Doing at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days a week is a good start. Exercise burns calories, fat and helps the body produces endorphins which give you a feel good rush. Exercise also helps reduce stress. If stress is a big factor in your daily life, try to find ways to relax. Try to cut back on alcohol (especially beer) and processed foods loaded with saturated fats and white sugars (we’ll talk more about how to identify these later, but it starts with reading the label). Limit red meat to once a week and eat lots and lots of veggies every day. Adding foods with healthy fats like almonds, avocados, olive oil and eggs to your diet can also help reduce the bulge in your mid section. Remember, belly fat doesn’t just look bad; it can potentially cause severe internal damage that could lead to cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and even heart attacks.