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Is Belly Fat the Worst Kind of Fat?

by Emily Milam

While excess belly fat may allow for a more impressive splash when flopping into the pool, it also packs some not so stellar abilities, like leading to higher cholesterol levels and increased risks for cardiovascular disease[1][2]. What’s more, belly fat — also known as visceral fat, abdominal fat, or central adiposity — can lead to type 2 diabetes, a disease that causes blood sugar levels to rise dangerously high[3]. The good news? Some types of midsection weight are less worrisome than others.

Tubby Tummies — Why It Matters

Belly

Photo by Jess Ivy

So why aren’t jelly bellies and thunder thighs equally bad? Of course, excess fat anywhereon the body can contribute to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but not all fat is created equal: Geography matters[4].

Abdominal fat is stored in two different ways. First, there is subcutaneous fat (the pinchable stuff!), which sits between the skin and the abdominal wall. This fat is more of a holding tank for extra calories, and is less of a health threat since it does not directly surround organs and the blood vessels that keep them healthy[5]Visceral fat, however, sits deeper in the stomach and blankets the abdominal organs[6]. Now, everyone has some amount of visceral fat, but concerns surface when this inner fat exceeds normal levels. In some cases, the fat can invade the organs themselves (a common occurrence in the liver)[7]The organ-swaddling visceral fat negatively affects organ function and integrity by increasing inflammation, clogging blood supplies (which prevents nutrient and oxygen delivery to organs), and eventually causing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, a pre-cursor to diabetes, is a condition by which the body’s muscle, fat, and liver no longer respond properly to circulating insulin supplies[8]. This means that insulin — a hormone made in the pancreas that tells glucose to enter the body’s cells to fulfill their energy needs — can’t do its job. The result? The body’s cells starve while the excess glucose accumulates in the blood, ultimately damaging organs and vessels throughout the body. What’s more, visceral fat cells also produces hormones that regulate weight and appetite, sometimes leading to further weight gain or increased feelings of hunger[9].

Getting Waisted — The Answer/Debate

They say America is a melting pot, but let’s think of it as a fruit basket. Different body shapes are associated with each gender and type of fat[10]Pear-shaped women have more padding around the butt and thighs (hence, apple bottom jeans — not be confused with apple shape!). These areas harbor mostly subcutaneous fat. Apple-shaped men and women, or those with fat around the middle, have more visceral fat (the dangerous kind). Banana-shaped are relatively thin throughout, or have a more equal distribution of fat. And we can’t forget beer bellies! Beer guzzlers beware — tummies full of Budweiser also count as dangerous visceral fat[11][12].

While calculating body mass index (BMI) is a helpful tool to assess the overall health of an individual’s weight, determining a waist-to-hip ratio with a measuring tape is a better method to pinpoint belly fat[13]Calculate waist-to-hip ratio by dividing the waist’s circumference at its narrowest point (use the belly button as a guide) by the hips’ circumference at their widest points (near the top of the bony protrusions). Ratios of 0.8 and below are healthy, and those above 0.8 suggest an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. Some studies have found waist circumference to be a better determinant and to better express the amount of belly fat present[14]. Measure waist circumference at the spot right above the hip bones right afer breathing out. Risk for developing obesity-related health problems (like cardiovascular disease) increases in women with waists larger than 35 inches and in men with a circumference large than 40 inches.

Ready to battle the bulge? Thankfully, visceral fat typically surrenders to diet and exercise. Trim the fat with the four pillars of a healthy middle: exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management. While core exercises such as the plank and crunches will firm up abs, they won’t blast the belly fat that lies underneath. Instead, try moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic activity — recent research suggests that sprinting is the best way to lose the love handles[15][16][17]. Complement aerobics with diets low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates (beer lovers, beware), and considerprotein-rich meals and low-fat snacks[18]. And don’t forget to manage life stressors and catch plenty of Zzzs — increased cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and lack of sleep are both tied to abdominal weight gain[19][20].

The Takeaway

Belly (aka visceral) fat can be more harmful than other types in terms of leading to bigger health issues. The good news? It also surrenders more easily to improved fitness and diet than other types!

This article was read and approved by Greatist experts Sherry Pagoto and Lisa Moskovitz

What do you think about the debate between BMI or waist circumference being the better determinant of health risks? Join the conversation in the comments section below! 

Works Cited

  1. Visceral fat positively correlates with cholesterol synthesis in dyslipidaemic patients. Lupattelli, G., Pirro, M., Mannarino, M. et al. Internal Medicine, Angiology and Atherosclerosis, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Italy. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2012 Feb;42(2):164-70. []
  2. Cardiovascular disease under the influence of excess visceral fat. Despres, J. Québec Heart Institute, Québec, QC, Canada. Critical Pathways in Cardiology, 2007 Jun;6(2):51-9. []
  3. Insulin resistance and body fat distribution. Yamashita, S., Nakamura, T., Shimomura, I., et al. Second Department of Internal Medicine, Osaka University Medical School, Japan. Diabetes Care, 1996 Mar;19(3):287-91. []
  4. Abdominal visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue compartments: association with metabolic risk factors in the Framingham Heart Study. Fox, C., Massaro, J., Hoffman, U., et al. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, Mass, USA. Circulation,  2007 Jul 3;116(1):39-48. []
  5. Beneficial effects of subcutaneous fat transplantation on metabolism. Tran, T., Yamamoto, Y., Gesta, S. et al. Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Cell Metabolism, 2008 May;7(5):410-20. []
  6. Metabolic obesity: the paradox between visceral and subcutaneous fat. Hamdy, O., Porramatikul, S., Al-Ozairi, E. Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. Current Diabetes Review, 2006 Nov;2(4):367-73. []
  7. Obesity, Visceral Fat, and NAFLD: Querying the Role of Adipokines in the Progression of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Mirza, M. SpR Surgery, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, UK. ISRN Gastroenterology, 2011;2011:592404. []
  8. Brown fat lipoatrophy and increased visceral adiposity through a concerted adipocytokines overexpression induces vascular insulin resistance and dysfunction. Gomez-Hernandez, A., Otero, Y., de las Heras, N., et al. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department, School of Pharmacy, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain. Endocrinology, 2012 Mar;153(3):1242-55. []
  9. Adipose tissue as an endocrine organ. Galic, S., Oakhill, J., and Steinberg, G. St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research and Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 2010 Mar 25;316(2):129-39. []
  10. A weight shape index for assessing risk of disease in 44,820 women. Rimm, A., Hartz, A., and Fischer, M. Department of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 1988;41(5):459-65. []
  11. The association of lifetime alcohol use with measures of abdominal and general adiposity in a large-scale European cohort. Bergmann, M., Schutze, M., Steffen, A., et al. Department of Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Nuthetal, Germany. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011 Oct;65(10):1079-87. []
  12. Relationship of abdominal obesity with alcohol consumption at population scale. Scroder, H., Morales-Molina, J., Bermejo, S., et al. Lipids and Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit, Institut Municipal d’Investigació Mèdica, Barcelona, Spain. European Journal of Nutrition, 2007 Oct;46(7):369-76. []
  13. Body mass index, waist circumference and waist:hip ratio as predictors of cardiovascular risk–a review of the literature. Huxley, R., Mendis, S., Zhelezyakov, E., et al. Renal and Metabolic Division, The George Institute for International Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010 Jan;64(1):16-22. []
  14. Waist circumference in children and adolescents correlate with metabolic syndrome and fat deposits in young adults. Spolidoro, JV, Pitrez Filho, ML, Vargas LT, et al. Medical School of the Pontifficia Universidade Catolica do RS, Moinhos de Vento Hospital, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Clinical Nutrition, 2012 Jul 28. []
  15. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of aerobic vs. resistance exercise training on visceral fat. Ismail, I., Keating, S., Baker, M., et al. Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Obesity Reviews, 2012 Jan;13(1):68-91. []
  16. Effects of aerobic vs. resistance training on visceral and liver fat stores, liver enzymes, and insulin resistance by HOMA in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT. Slentz, C., Bateman, L., Willis, L., et al. Div. of Cardiology, Dept. of Medicine, Duke Univ. Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA. American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2011 Nov;301(5):E1033-9. []
  17. The effect of high-intensity intermittent exercise on body composition of overweight young males. Heydari, M., Freund, J., Boutcher, S.H. School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Journal of Obesity, 2012;2012:480467. []
  18. Relationship between bread consumption, body weight, and abdominal fat distribution: evidence from epidemiological studies. Bautista-Castano, I. and Serra-Marjem, L. Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. Nutrition Reviews, 2012 Apr;70(4):218-33. []
  19. Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women. Moyer, A., Rodin, J., Grilo, C., et al. Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA. Obesity Research, 1994 May;2(3):255-62. []
  20. Obesity and metabolic syndrome: Association with chronodisruption, sleep deprivation, and melatonin suppression. Reiter, R., Tan, D., Korkmaz, A., et al. Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, UT Health Science Center , San Antonio, Texas USA. Annals of Medicine, 2011 Jun 13. []

http://greatist.com/health/belly-fat-worst-kind/?utm_source=pulsenews&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+greatist+%28Greatist+-+Health+and+Fitness+Articles%2C+News%2C+and+Tips%29

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8 REASONS WHY WOMEN SHOULD LIFT WEIGHTS Livestrong

The benefits of resistance training go far beyond sculpting a lean, toned body

Jun 25, 2012 | By Linda Melone

We know: You don’t want bulging biceps or thunderous thigh muscles like Lance Armstrong. No woman does. But that doesn’t mean you should skip the weight room.

Lifting weights has some surprising perks that you can’t get from cardio alone. Research shows that just two strength-training sessions a week can help you burn more fat, sculpt lean muscles, feel more energized, and so much more. Here are eight reasons you should start lifting today.

1. You’ll burn more calories

Although cardio burns more calories than strength training during your 30-minute sweat session, lifting weights burns more overall. It all goes back to building muscle. It takes more energy (calories) for your body to maintain muscle cells than it does fat cells. So by lifting weights to add more muscle mass, you’ll boost your metabolism and turn your body into a more efficient fat-burning machine.

2. You’ll maintain muscle and feel better in your clothes

Research shows that between the ages of 30 and 70, women lose an average of 22 percent of their total muscle. What’s even more upsetting is that over time, the muscle void is often filled with fat. One pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle, so even if the number on the scale goes down, your pants size might go up. The best way to stay tightly packed? Keep strength training!

For best results, Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, author of Beat the Gym, recommends two to three total-body strength workouts per week for 30 minutes each session. Include three to four days of cardiovascular exercise, either on the same days or alternate days.

3. You’ll build stronger bones

Lifting weights can be your best defense against osteoporosis—a disease affecting 10 million Americans, 80 percent of which are women, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. “When you lift weights you engage muscles that pull on the tendons which, in turn, pull on the bones,” says Holland. “This added stress makes bones stronger.”

4. Your heart will be healthier

It may seem counterintuitive that weight lifting helps lower blood pressure, since blood pressure actually goes up during and immediately after your strength session. But research shows it’s a powerful way to protect your ticker in the long run. “As muscles contract, blood is pushed back up to the heart,” says Irv Rubenstein, PhD, exercise physiologist and founder of S.T.E.P.S., a fitness facility in Nashville, TN. “The heart then recirculates this oxygenated blood back to the muscles, which keeps the cardiovascular system in better working order.” Plus, maintaining lean muscle mass enables you to do more work overall, further enhancing this effect, Rubenstein says.

5. You’ll remember where you left the keys (and everything else)

Muscles strengthen both your body and your brain. According to a new study published in the May 2012 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a combination of mentally stimulating activities like using a computer and exercise (which included walking and other cardio as well as strength training and sports activities) helped protect brain functioning in older adults. The combination of computer use with moderate exercise decreases the risk of memory loss more than either one activity on its own.

6. You’ll be happier and less stressed

Move over, runner’s high! Weight training also has the power to induce pleasure by releasing endorphins, the “feel-good” chemical in your brain. Research shows that resistance training can help beat the blues. One Australian study found that people who did three strength workouts a week (chest presses, lat pull-downs, and biceps curls) reported an 18 percent drop in depression after 10 weeks. In addition, exercise reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, relieving feelings of anxiety and agitation.

7. You’ll reduce your risk of diabetes (or improve quality of life if you already have diabetes)

Lifting weights helps improve the way your body processes sugar, which can help prevent diabetes. And if you already have diabetes, research shows that extended periods of strength training improve blood sugar control as well as taking a diabetes drug. In fact, the combination of strength training and aerobic exercise may be even more beneficial than drugs.

8. You’ll improve balance

Ever try to put on one sock while standing on the other leg? Without strength training, this simple act can feel more like a circus trick over time. The reason: fast-twitch muscles fibers we use for strength training deteriorate with age. (Aerobic exercises use mostly slow-twitch fibers.) “The fast-twitch fibers assist in speed and power movements and contract quickly and with sufficient force to catch yourself when you lose your balance,” Rubenstein says. “Resistance training maintains the ability of these fibers to activate.”

Last updated on: Jun 25, 2012

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/557657-8-reasons-why-women-should-lift-weights/#ixzz21T4i7cRJ

Top 10 Myths About Cardiovascular Disease American Heart Association

Top 10 Myths About Cardiovascular Disease

How much do you really know about your heart’s health? It’s easy to be fooled by misconceptions. After all, heart disease only happens to your elderly neighbor or to your fried food-loving uncle, right? Or do you know the real truth – that heart disease can affect people of any age, even those who eat right?

Relying on false assumptions can be dangerous to your heart. Cardiovascular disease kills more Americans each year than any other disease. But you can boost your heart smarts by separating fact from fiction. Let’s set the record straight on some common myths.

  1. “I’m too young to worry about heart disease.” How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. One in three Americans has cardiovascular disease, but not all of them are senior citizens. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems – especially now that obesity, type 2 diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.
  2. “I’d know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.” High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you don’t usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don’t wait for your body to alert you that there’s a problem. The  way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers with a simple blood pressure test. Early treatment of high blood pressure is critical because, if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other serious health problems. Learn how high blood pressure is diagnosed.
  3.  “I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack because I’ll have chest pain.” Not necessarily. Although it’s common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Learn you risk of heart attacktoday!
  4. “Diabetes won’t threaten my heart as long as I take my medication.” Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s because the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Theseoverlapping risk factors include high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and smoking.
  5. “Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.” Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create anaction plan to keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-dos: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar; and stop smoking.
  6. “I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I’m middle-aged.” The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20. It’s a good idea to start having a cholesterol test even earlier if your family has a history of heart disease. Children in these families can have high cholesterol levels, putting them at increased risk for developing heart disease as adults. You can help yourself and your family by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
  7. “Heart failure means the heart stops beating.” The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.
  8. “This pain in my legs must be a sign of aging. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my heart.” Leg pain felt in the muscles could be a sign of a condition called peripheral artery disease. PAD results from blocked arteries in the legs caused by plaque buildup. The risk for heart attack or stroke increases five-fold for people with PAD.
  9. “My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack.” Some variation in your heart rate is normal. Your heart rate speeds up during exercise or when you get excited, and slows down when you’re sleeping. Most of the time, a change in your heartbeat is nothing to worry about. But sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia, an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can last long enough to impact how well the heart works and require treatment.
  10. “I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack.” No! As soon as possible, get moving with a plan approved for you! Research shows that heart attack survivors who are regularly physically active and make other heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. People with chronic conditions typically find that moderate-intensity activity is safe and beneficial. The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Find the help you need by joining a cardiac rehabilitation program, or consult your healthcare provider for advice on developing a physical activity plan tailored to your needs.

Learn more:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Top-10-Myths-about-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_430164_Article.jsp

What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Soda?

a sip of soda

http://s304.photobucket.com/albums/nn180/brujah-inu/?action=view&current=soda-full.jpg&currenttag=A%20SIP%20OF%20SODA

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-1282/How-a-Sip-of-Soda-Affects-Your-Health-Image.html

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