As someone living with prediabetes, you were probably told to lose some weight to better manage your blood sugars and reduce your risk of diabetes.
While this advice is true, something just as important (or even more) as your weight is often overlooked.
I’m talking about your waist circumference, and how it can increase your risk for diabetes.
Why Your Waistline Is More Important Than Your Weight For Your Diabetes Risk
Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):
Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.
THAT’s what we’re talking about here.
Do you know which shape 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).
Yup – it’s the apple!
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 much more important that how much you weigh.
Am I an apple or a pear?
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. You can do it right now.
Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category. (Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course!)
For men the number is 40”.
By no means it this a diagnostic tool. There are lots of other risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them. If you have concerns, definitely go see your doctor.
Now, I didn’t come here to deliver somber news and leave without giving you tips on how to address the issue. Below are some tips on how to reduce belly fat (and subsequently, your risk of developing diabetes)
Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:
- Eat more fiber. Fiber 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-fiber foods are brussel sprouts (see recipe below), flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
- 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 processed sweetened foods and sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
- Move that booty. 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 fiber side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- 1 lb 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 400F.
- 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.
I hope this article was helpful to you! Let me know in the comments which tip you’re going to implement this week!
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