Did you know that too much “shelter over the playground” could interfere with your love life?
It’s true. Recent studies have shown an association between belly fat and erectile dysfunction (ED). Belly fat indicates a higher level of harmful visceral fat—the type of fat associated with lower testosterone levels and inflammation which can cause ED. Men with a waist circumference of 42 inches are 50 percent more likely to have erectile dysfunction compared to those with waists of 32 inches. Obesity also raises your risk for vascular disease and diabetes, two major causes of ED. Belly fat also poses the greatest risk for heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
The following tips will help you get rid of belly fat, improve your health, and put a little “spice” back into your life.
Lose the booze
Men of all ages are prone to develop belly fat but drinking moderate to high intakes of alcohol can also affect body fat distribution. In the presence of alcohol and fat, the body chooses to rid itself of the toxic alcohol first by using it as the preferred source of energy. The body will then store the fat – which it perceives as being harmless. As a result, alcohol promotes fat storage – particularly around the abdominal area, causing the “beer belly.”
Make a drinking policy of no more than two drinks a day. If you’re looking to “chill” after work, that’s all it should take to elevate your mood and spare you from long-term harm to your health.
One drink is equal to a 12 oz beer, alcoholic lemonade, or alcoholic carbonated drink; 10 oz wine cooler; 5 oz wine; or 1.5 oz of hard liquor – such as 80 proof whiskey, gin, brandy, rum or vodka.
Eat three squares a day
Skipping and delaying meals increases the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin which leads to craving high-calorie foods like pizza and fries. Eating every three to four hours can help control appetite and keep ghrelin in check. Your meals and snacks should include carbohydrate and protein.
Reduce Stress and Increase Rest
Stress throughout the day can lead to increased cortisol and fat around the waistline. Cortisol – often referred to as the “stress hormone,” is released during times of stress. In fact, research shows that stress and elevated cortisol levels trigger fat accumulation around the abdominal area.
So how do you reduce stress?
First and foremost learn to relax – it allows the body to regenerate itself. Aim for eight hours of sleep daily and then find time to relax during the day. Many men find listening to smooth jazz or just sitting quietly helps them relax. Figure out what helps you relax, and then practice it daily.
A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training is a proven belly fat fighting formula. In Flat Belly 365 Villacorta tells his readers it’s not about how much you exercise for a flat belly. It’s about how much you eat for a flat belly. For optimal weight loss—where you lose fat and maintain lean muscle mass, Villacorta says your weight loss efforts should be 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent exercise. He calls it the 80/20 rule.
Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t be as active as possible. In fact, research suggests that moderate exercise can help restore sexual performance in obese men with ED.
Quitting smoking is essential to your health and your waistline. Many people mistakenly believe that smoking protects against obesity. However, there is increasing evidence that cigarette smoking increases abdominal fat accumulation. Additionally, smoking can damage the lining of your blood vessels which can inhibit blood flow leading to ED.
It’s tough to stop smoking. But prior planning and being prepared can boost your chances of success. Click here to learn how to build a quit plan to get ready to stop and find out what to expect along the way.
An award-winning registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of the Diabetes Guide to Enjoying Foods of the World; The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes.