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Since men who carry extra weight tend to be more “apple shaped” than their female counterparts, experts say that the health risks are significantly increased. In fact, according to USA Today’s Nancy Hellmich, researchers have determined why this is so.
“They have discovered that people with wide girths are more likely to have large amounts of deep-hidden belly fat around their organs,” she says. “It might be the most dangerous kind of fat and could increase a person's risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.”
The typical “beer belly”, which is composed of visceral (or intra-abdominal) fat puts men at risk for many health problems, including elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, hypertension and other cardiovascular issues. They may also be at higher risk for diabetes or insulin resistance.
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How Much is Too Much?
According to a recent report from the Mayo Clinic, taking your waist measurement is a great way to determine if you have too much belly fat.
“Although measurements that compare your hip and waist circumference (waist-to-hip ratio) or compare your height and weight (body mass index) are more precise, your waist size alone can give you a good estimate,” advises the report.
As a general guideline, men with waistlines larger than 40 inches are at increased risk for belly-fat related health issues.
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Getting rid of the beer belly
As with any excess weight, being careful with one’s diet and getting a little exercise is the primary way to reduce belly fat, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the good things in life—just do so in moderation.
Contrary to popular belief, sit-ups and crunches aren’t the answer to getting rid of belly fat in men. While these types of exercise will certainly strengthen your abdominal muscles, which can cause the appearance of a flatter belly, they won’t necessarily get rid of the fat.
Aerobic exercise like running, jogging and race-walking can help to work the abs as well as reduce your overall fat levels. Aerobic exercise can also help to relieve depression and lower stress levels, which are two other leading causes for overweight and obesity in men.
Be sure to include strength training in your regular workout as well, focusing on large muscle groups like those found in the legs and buttocks. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, this alone can help to drop those last few pounds and keep you in shape.