My belly is getting fat and I am only 31. I hate it and even though I'm doing lots of crunches and cardio, it's not going anywhere. How can I get my lean stomach back? - Rachel
Open up any health magazine or tune into a TV infomercial during the spring and summer and you're likely to notice two very popular words: belly fat. These two little words magnetically attract us because they conjure up a body image we dread ever seeing in our mirror. In fact, they draw you in faster than you can suck in your belly trying on swimsuits in the dressing room.
The message is simple: Blast Away Belly Fat Fast; Trim Your Physique of Unsightly Belly Fat; How Stars Secretly Shed Belly Fat.
However, the solution requires a little more than blasting or trimming to shed that fat.
I think we all agree that having too much belly fat is indeed not a good look on anyone. But the more significant reason to reduce belly fat is for the health benefits. With two-thirds of our population overweight or obese and carrying around too generous a supply of belly fat, the medical community is determined to make us aware that a jiggle in our middle puts us at a higher risk for health problems.
Michael Jensen, M.D., an endocrinology specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., says, "If you are carrying a few extra pounds whether in the form of belly fat, love handles, a beer gut or potbelly, you're not alone. Although the link between belly fat and health is not entirely clear, experts do know that people with a lot of belly fat are at higher risk of health problems than are people who accumulate fat in other areas. Our bodies are designed to store fat for release during times when there is not enough food. But when we put on weight and never have these lean times, fat cells begin to release fat molecules into the blood at a higher rate. This affects normal metabolism and the way the body uses insulin."
Dr. Jensen explains that these metabolic changes make it more likely a person will develop one or more of the following: