The Top 4 Ways to Lose Belly Fat for Good

The Top 4 Ways to Lose Belly Fat for Good

Belly fat is such an important (and dangerous) factor for your overall health that it’s now discussed as an organ. The visceral fat that makes up a spare tire or, worse, a beer belly—and that surrounds your liver, stomach, and intestines—isn’t flabbily inert. It appears to be biologically active, pumping out hormones and other substances, and it may even increase your risk of metabolic problems like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and maybe even cancer.

That’s most scary for the 35 percent of American men categorized as obese—guys who have a body-mass index (BMI) of 30-plus. It’s also a concern for the 38 percent of guys classified as overweight, whose BMI is in the 25 to 29.9 range.

But even men sporting modest paunches are at risk. Yup, Dad Bods, Skinny Fat dudes, Beer Belly Light guys—maybe even you. Recent Mayo Clinic research shows that men who are in the normal range (with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) but have fat in their midsection are up to four times as likely as leaner men to have metabolic disorders. “Why some people predominantly carry fat in visceral deposits isn’t fully understood,” says Paul Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Metabolism at Rockefeller University in New York. “There clearly are genetic and hormonal influences.”

While researchers learn more about how fat harms you, they’re also finding new ways to fight it. And it may not take much to reduce your health risks, according to a new, albeit small, study in Obesity. When people who had a normal BMI but excess body fat lost 5 percent of body weight, they saw major benefits: visceral fat down 11 percent, total fat down 9 percent, liver fat down 50 percent, and insulin sensitivity up 26 percent. If you weigh 200 pounds, losing 5 percent means shedding just 10 pounds. These four tips make it a little easier. Get after it!

1. Build muscle to fight fat
“Muscle is the opposite of fat,” says Mayo Clinic cardiologist Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D. All over your body, muscle is metabolically active in ways that counteract visceral fat—extracting glucose from your blood, helping your liver process fatty acids, and reducing inflammation. Dr. Lopez-Jimenez and his colleagues have found that people with big guts often lack lower-body muscle mass, and the correlation is stronger as people age. It stands to reason: Strong muscles add bulk to your legs and butt—your biggest muscle groups—providing a better balance of muscle to fat in your body and powering a healthier metabolism.

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