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Beer bellies and muffin tops: Are you hiding behind cute names for abdominal fat?

January has arrived, and with the New Year typically come thoughts of a renewed commitment to health and wellness. Maybe those jeans are a little bit tighter after the excesses of Christmas. (Just me? No, didn’t think so.) Maybe you’re hiding under a t-shirt at the beach. Or maybe you’ve always done those things but you’ve decided that it’s time to really change this time.

As a society, we have lots of cute and funny sounding names for abdominal fat. We call it our beer belly, a muffin top, joke about our love handles or our cuddly belly. But the harsh reality is that there is nothing cute, sweet or harmless about abdominal fat stores. Fat around your belly is literally suffocating your vital organs. That visceral, or hidden, fat is a known contributor to increased risk of heart attack, type 2 diabetes, a range of cancers and more.beerbelly-dexascanner-bodymeasure-sydney

In our blogs we keep banging on about the risks of abdominal fat. That’s because the research into the health implications of this type of fat is very clear – too much abdominal fat is a killer. But, on the flip side, we continually see our customers turn their health around through embracing a healthier lifestyle that focuses on freshly prepared foods and plenty of activity. With regular DEXA scans, we can see the evidence of this dangerous, deadly fat burning away and being replaced with muscle mass and lean tissue.

Five top tips for shifting that beer belly

  1. OK, we’re not going to be popular for this one, but it’s a no-brainer. Cut back on the beer. Sorry. Alcohol is high in carbohydrates but has no nutritional value. Your body will burn off alcohol before any other food, so it leads to your body storing additional calories as fat.
  2. Embrace vegetables. Increasing your vegetable intake is one of the easiest ways to reduce processed carbohydrates from your diet. Carbs aren’t bad, we just tend to eat too many in our modern, processed food culture. Try out zucchini noodles with your bolognaise sauce, or give cauliflower rice a try with your curry. There are loads of easy and tasty ideas to make veggies a bigger part of your diet.
  3. Move more. When you are starting out, the most important thing is just to be more active. Find something that you enjoy (or can at least tolerate). If you’re already active, increase the amount of weight bearing exercise that you do. Building more muscle mass will help your body to be a more efficient fat burning machine. Weight bearing exercise also improves your bone density, which is very important for both women AND men as we age.liftingweights-dexascanner-sydney-strength
  4. Rest better. Studies show that a lack of sleep is a contributing factor to excess fat storage. Inadequate or poor quality sleep can impede your body’s ability to process carbohydrate, leading to an excess of insulin production and ultimately storing more body fat and developing insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
  5. Keep measuring. The most important element to reducing abdominal fat and increasing muscle mass is consistency with your lifestyle changes. But we know that sometimes it can be hard to maintain your motivation when you aren’t always seeing immediate changes. This is where regular DEXA scans can play a vital role, as even if the number on the scale isn’t changing, our scans can show you how those hidden fat stores are reducing in size and being replaced by healthy muscle mass.

Visit Body Measure in Crows Nest Sydney for your DEXA scan and combat that dangerous abdominal fat!!

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Losing weight, but are you losing muscle mass too?

There’s no end of diets and weight loss strategies that promise that you’ll shed x number of kilos in y number of days. ‘Look sexy by Christmas,’ they shout from magazine covers at the supermarket checkout. ‘Drink our shakes and drop two dress sizes by Sunday,’ they claim. And yes, you probably will lose x number of kilos and you might even fit into that dress you bought on sale even though really it was straining more than a little at the zip. But what’s that rapid weight loss really made of?

What are you really losing?

Recent research has shown that rapid weight loss leads to much more muscle being lost than a more steady approach to reaching your ideal weight. It is suspected that this is because when you are on a very low kilojoule or crash diet, the body is forced to break down extra muscle tissue to create the protein and sugar that is missing from your food intake. As a result, crash dieters can lose up to 50 -80 % of their weight loss as muscle within as little as a fortnight!

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Are you burning fat or muscle?

But I’m skinny now, so why does it matter that I’ve lost muscle?

Maintaining and increasing lean muscle mass as part of your weight loss strategy is important for two key reasons. Firstly, muscle is better at burning off kilojoules than fat, which means that if you have less muscle, your body will use less energy! And that weight you just lost? Well, you can expect to see it creeping back on once you start eating normally again – and probably some extra weight too just to really give you a kick in the guts! Secondly, a body with a good proportion of lean tissue just looks better. So if you want to look good in the buff as well as in your bargain sale dress, making sure your muscle mass is maintained is just good sense.

So, how can I tell if I’m losing muscle or fat?

A DEXA scan is an easy and accurate way to determine both your body composition and where your body is storing fat. Body Measure In Crows Nest can tell you if you are storing dangerous visceral fat around your vital organs like your heart, pancreas and your liver, and let you know what your ideal ratio of body fat to lean tissue is. You can then use this information to reach both a healthy weight AND low body fat. At Body Measure we have recorded muscle loss to fat loss with ratio’s as high as 4:1 – so we have had clients that have lost 5 kg’s of body weight, with 4kg being muscle and only 1kg of weight being fat. This is clearly not ideal. By identifying this early we can make changes to the clients training and nutrition to pushed their bodies to fat burning and Muscle sparing.

The fact is that there are no quick fixes to achieving true health. An active lifestyle and plenty of exercise are vital to reduce visceral fat around the abdomen, no matter how skinny you are on the outside. And when it comes to weight loss, slow and steady so that you can protect your body’s vital muscle mass is the way to go. It might not be as rapid, but it will last a hell of a lot longer. So, eat foods that are good for your body (we know the ones), pick up some weights and commit to making changes for the long term to achieve your health goals. As you start to make changes, regular DEXA scans can show you the changes in your body composition and allow you to tweak your diet and exercise to achieve the results that you are after and say goodbye to the weight loss-gain cycle and yo-yo dieting.

Visit Body Measure in Crows Nest, Sydney, for your DEXA scan to ensure your are burning fat, not muscle!

Call 02 9460 8502 to book your appointment.