By Nutritionist Blogger, Jeni Tackett RD, LD
As spring approaches, many of us start worrying about how we will look in swim suits and tank tops … and “belly fat” is often our chief villain.
But belly fat is more than just a nuisance in the summer-time; it’s also a health concern. The Harvard Family Health Guide explains that fat around your organs (visceral fat) can result in increased blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and heart attack risk. Trimming your waistline is more than just a cosmetic goal: a trim waist is important to your health!
Are you at risk? Follow the Harvard Health Guide’s recommendations for measuring your waist circumference:
Interpreting your waist circumference
|Low risk||37 inches and below||31.5 inches and below|
|Intermediate risk||37.1–39.9 inches||31.6–34.9 inches|
|High risk||40 inches and above||35 inches and above|
To measure your waist circumference properly, take your shoes off and stand with your feet together. Be sure your belly is bare. Relax and exhale. Using a cloth measuring tape that can’t be stretched, not the stiff metal tape from your toolbox, measure your waist at the navel. Be sure to keep the tape parallel to the ground. Record the measurement to the nearest one-tenth of an inch.
Tips to a Trimmer Tummy
There is no magic diet to lose belly fat, but if you lose fat, then you will lose fat around your middle. Here are some tips to trim your waistline:
- Eat a plant-based diet with at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day (for example, 2 pieces of fruit and 1 ½ cups of vegetables). A study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in 2011 found that increasing soluble fiber by 10 grams per day decreased abdominal fat by 3.7%. Soluble fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and oats.
- Eat whole grains such as whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.
- Choose fat free or low fat dairy products. If you drink milk, limit your milk intake to 3 cups/day. Many people drink way too many calories from milk, and you should not drink 2% or whole milk which is high in saturated fat.
- Cut down on added sugar. Do not snack on candy and sweets such as cookies, muffins, and cake. If you have a treat, keep the portion small (using 100 calorie products or a portion controlled fudgesicle can help).
- Do not drink your calories. Extra calories from juice, regular soda pop, and alcohol are stored as fat.
- You have to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, so keep track of what you eat with free apps such as MyFitnessPal (www.myfitnesspal.com). Or log into free websites like www.sparkpeople.com. Get real about how many calories you’re consuming each day.
|Meet Jeni Tackett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutrition Blogger. Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Unity Point-Trinity. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition. You can read Jeni’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|