“Middle Age Spread” is the term used to describe deposits of fat that begin to appear about our middles as we reach middle age. Originally thought to be a benign sign of the more sedentary lifestyle that comes with a settled career and family life, it is now understood that the accumulation of abdominal fat is potentially harmful to our health.
There are direct links between abdominal fat and Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, some forms of cancer and a variety of organ problems.
There are two types of abdominal fat: Subcutaneous, which is the fat that you can grab with your hands and is just under the skin; and visceral, the fat surrounding the intestines and abdominal organs. The latter variety is decidedly more harmful. So there are more reasons than just appearances sake that we should learn how to lose abdominal fat. Fortunately, both types of abdominal fat can be lost easily through dieting and exercise. By altering what we eat and how much we eat, our bodies will begin to burn up the excess adipose deposits.
Exercise speeds up our metabolism and develops muscle tissue, each of which contributes to losing both types of abdominal fat.
Dieting to Lose Abdominal Fat
It is important to note that going on a greatly reduced calorie diet can be counterproductive. Our Paleolithic metabolism responds to calorie reduction by storing more fat because starvation may be imminent.
With that in mind, it makes more sense to reduce our intake to between 1,800 and 2,000 calories, which is slightly below maintenance levels.
It is important to also maintain a diet log, keeping track of everything we eat so we have an accurate measure of caloric intake. Make one up for a week or so prior to beginning the fat loss diet, then cut calories accordingly.
It is also very important not to eat “bad” carbohydrates or oils. Refined sugars, starches and grains are sources of simple carbohydrates and will sabotage your dieting. Stay away from bread made from flour of any type, pasta and processed rice.
Don’t eat prepared foods, that is, those that only require warming before serving. These are usually filled with chemical preservatives, including high-fructose corn syrup.
Your diet should mainly consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meats, poultry and fish. Alcohol consumption (empty calories converted to sugar by our metabolism) should also be minimized.
When you first begin your diet, restrict your carbohydrate intake to about fifty grams per day (buy a calorie and carbohydrate counter) until your weight begins to drop.
After your weight nears your target, you may begin to slowly elevate your carb intake until you stop losing abdominal fat. This will probably be your maintenance point.
As you begin your exercise program, your protein intake should rise to about 25% of your caloric intake. Good protein-rich foods are: Eggs, organ meats, unprocessed beef, pork and chicken, fish, beans and other legumes.
Soy is not a good source of protein since it isn’t a good biological match to human flesh. This necessitates a huge consumption of soy products to derive all the essential amino acids necessary for tissue building and fat metabolizing.
Exercising to Lose Abdominal Fat
Strength and resistance training will build your muscles and increase the calorie consumption of your system. Muscles require more energy than fat – three times as much in fact.
Join a local health and fitness club or the YWCA and have a trainer set up a program of weight training. Minimize the cardiovascular exercises because they don’t really burn fat, but instead diminish muscle tissue.