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Beer belly: The truth revealed

Beer belly is a commonly used term, but it's not just beer that contributes to a beer gut. Instead, it is a general lifestyle of eating fatty foods, not exercising and overall not maintaining a health-conscious lifestyle.

FACT: Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is the most toxic form of fat. It contributes to an increased risk of inflammation, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and hypertension, which in turn puts you at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, heart attack and diabetes.

FACT: In men, excess visceral fat is associated with relatively low testosterone levels. Maintaining a healthy weight helps maintain a healthy energy level and sex drive, especially with age.

FACT: Any kind of calories – from alcohol, sugary beverages or overeating — can increase belly fat.

FACT: Having a waistline greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women is a sign of large visceral fat deposits, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Beer bellies are more prominent in men as they age because the body goes through physiological changes. Hormone levels decline, which leads to more fat accumulating around the middle. It is unclear why this fat targets the midsection, but it wraps itself around vital organs, increasing the chance of disease.

With age, muscle mass decreases and fat tends to increase. This shift changes the amount of calories the body burns, therefore requiring fewer calories to sustain daily life. The only way to keep weight from creeping up is to cut down on calories and increase muscle mass by exercising. This will promote and fuel the calorie-burning process at a steady rate.

Crash diets are not the way to go. The key is to lose weight slowly, increasing exercise and reducing calories. These lifestyle changes will help keep weight off and give you long-term health benefits.  

Get more helpful, healthful tips from Living Better.

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