There's a kind of fat that can creep up on us as we age that is so awful, even its name sounds sneaky and mean.
What is visceral fat, you ask?
It's fat you can't see. It's fat that weaves itself around your heart and other internal organs. It's really evil, and you don't want it in your body.
We all have subcutaneous fat, which is the noticeable layer of fat that lies just below the skin. Visceral fat, on the other hand, is deeper, hidden beneath the muscles. It can be dangerous because it surrounds vital organs and is metabolized by the liver, which turns it into cholesterol in the blood. Men and women who have excess abdominal fat have a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which can precede diabetes and heart disease, cancer, stroke, dementia and sexual dysfunction in men. Not good.
How do you know if you have visceral fat?
If you are overweight, chances are good you have visceral fat. However, even normal weight men and women can have excess belly fat. The best way to determine if you have this kind of fat depends less on how much you weigh, and much more on the measurement of your waist, because that's where it tends to settle. So put away the scale and bring out the tape measure.
Your waist size should be less than half your height (and certainly less than thirty-five inches for women, and 40 inches for men).
How can we get rid of visceral fat?
The good news is it's the easiest kind of fat men and women over 50 can lose. It's even easier to shed visceral fat than that extra padding around your bottom or thighs! You simply need to eat better (and probably less), move your body more with regular exercise (walking is a great option), and lower your intake of saturated fats, especially those found in meat and even poultry, and it will go away. Think of it like a checking account --easy in and easy out. And, while strength-training exercises are essential for overall fitness and good health (especially bone health), there are other things you need to do to banish this kind of fat from your body: walking, running, playing tennis, biking and other activities that cause you to really move your body for at least 30 minutes or more will do the trick.
Every little step you make toward your goal is a huge step toward a better life now . . .and in the future. With every fraction of an inch, you are healthier.
And remember this . . .we can't control getting older . . .but we can control how we do it. Yay!
I'm the National Osteoporosis Foundation 'Ambassador for Bone Health' and a fierce champion of positive aging. For more tips on living your best life after 50 (or 60, or 70...) check out "The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts' Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More" and www.bestofeverythingafter50.com. Keep me posted on how you're doing by subscribing to me on Facebook and "tweeting" me on Twitter at @BGrufferman.
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