Science is finally catching up to you, and worrying about the pooch around the middle. Check out the latest headlines, and how they could help you slim down where it matters. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.
Measure your waist
Having a muffin top not only makes you more likely to hide under bulky sweaters, it also ups your odds of everything from Type 2 diabetes to heart disease. BMI, or body mass index, a common tool for gauging whether you're overweight, may not be as good of an indicator of your health risk as measuring your waist circumference, according to new research presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France. "BMI doesn't take muscle into account, which weighs more than fat," says Matthew Daniels, a certified personal trainer and founder of Asylum Fitness. "Your hip-to-waist ratio is a much more accurate predictor of health risks because where you carry your fat is more important than how much body fat you have overall." Women whose ratio is .08 or greater are at increased risk of health problems, and should target fat around the middle. Calculate yours - no math required - here.
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Eat fat to lose fat
When it comes to boosting your metabolism, a high-fat diet may trump a low-fat diet - so long as you time your meals correctly. Researchers from the University of Jerusalem recently discovered that a scheduled high-fat diet actually helps your body burn more fat rather than store it in your middle. Why? "Just like you need to spend money to make money, you need to eat fat to burn fat," says Daniels. "Eating healthy fats at strategic times, such as first thing in the morning or before a workout, helps you torch more calories because the fat is converted into energy when you have no reserves." Try having a tablespoon of almond butter on a banana for breakfast, or top your salad with a sliced avocado at lunch.
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Your type of belly fat matters, too
Carrying extra weight around your middle increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes, but your odds are greater depending on the type of belly fat you have, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers used MRIs to discover that obese people with visceral fat (the kind that surrounds your organs) are more likely to develop prediabetes than those with subcutaneous fat (the kind underneath your skin). The good news is that body-fat imaging tests can help doctors discover what type of belly fat you have, so they can make the most accurate recommendations for lifestyle changes that will help prevent health issues later on.
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Boost your immunity to burn fat naturally
It turns out that your immune system may play a role in slimming your waistline. Having higher levels of a certain immune cell known as natural killer T-cells in your body may help burn fat, boost metabolism, and even suppress hunger, according to a new study in the journal Immunity. These natural defense cells may work to speed metabolism by helping to squelch inflammation in adipose tissue (a.k.a. dangerous belly fat). One way to increase levels of these natural defense cells is to drop a few pounds (obese types have lower levels for the chemical).
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