If you’ve been listening to me for a while now (and certainly if you’re one of my clients), you will know that I love saying “ditch the scales!”
You totally want to ditch your scale, don’t you? When it comes to health, what you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.
That’s why in my clinic, we use the Bodystat Quadscan device to measure MORE than just how much you weigh on the scales – we look at BODY COMPOSITION – which is so much more useful.
Something else that is VITAL to assessing health and weight loss is your waist circumference…
Otherwise known as “belly fat” or if you want to get technical, “visceral adiposity” 😉
Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is more round around the tummy and the pear shape is where fat is carried more around the hip, butt and thighs.
THAT is what we’re talking about here.
So why does waist circumference matter?
Well, one of the fruit shapes is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases)…
Which one? Yup – that apple!
Carrying weight around the abdomen is not a good thing.
And it’s not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.
This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is. It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.
The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.
And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.
So as you can see, where your fat is stored is more important from a health perspective that how much you weigh.
How to measure your Waist Circumference
It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. I do this in my clinic and you can do it right now.
Women, if your waist is 80cm or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course!
(And… clinical tip here: sometimes bloating around your period or from digestive upsets can make your waist appear larger. I always take this into consideration based on the person standing in front of me.)
For men the number is 90cm or more.
Of course this isn’t a diagnostic tool, it’s just a marker we use to predict risk. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.
Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:
- Eat more fibre. Fibre can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fibre foods are vegetables, flax and chia seeds and berries.
- Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
- Ditch added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice). They convert to belly fat faster than you can say “sweet tooth”!
- Move more. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.
- Stress less. Seriously! Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
- Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).
Recipe (High fibre side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussel Sprouts
8-10 brussel sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)
2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
dash salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200 celcius.
In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Toss. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K. You may want to eat them more often.