Question of the Week

December 28th, 2010  Posted at   Health
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Question:
I am a 44 year old man who stays pretty fit. However, in the last few years I have developed a gut. Where did it come from and how do I get rid of it? I am not a beer drinker but you would not know that by looking at my belly. I have tried to increase my work-outs but that just wears me out. I don’t really eat much and try not to eat anything after dinner. Is there any way to rid myself of this gut? I wake up every day thinking that there has to be something I can do to get back to a somewhat flat belly. I am close to just fasting till it goes away. Help!

Answer:
The myth of the “beer belly” is just that. Fat bellies are caused by fat, not beer. Some people pack it on in one area more than in others. The belly is the favorite place, especially among men, for fat to find a home. Fat is not discriminating. Any excess weight you store will find a place to deposit itself. In your case, apparently, it’s the belly. You didn’t mention if you were otherwise overweight but we’re going to assume that you are.

You mention not eating anything after dinner. It’s good that you don’t pig out at night but small snacks can be an aid to weight loss. Healthy snacks such as fat-free yogurt, cottage cheese and milk or fresh fruit and melba toast can be a help to prevent overeating at any one time. It’s not so much “when” you eat but “what” you eat. While it’s true that avoiding late-night eating is good practice because eating earlier in the day gives you more time to burn off calories, it’s self-defeating to eat a huge dinner, then congratulate yourself on not eating after dinner.

You need to get a handle on your calorie intake. All the exercise in the world will not prevent weight gain if you don’t curb your appetite or moderate your diet. Fasting, that you mention as a possible solution, will not work either. Not only is it not healthy, it is not feasible because you cannot stay on that starvation regime for very long. You need to adapt a healthy diet that you can live with all of your life without feeling severe deprivation.

Cut your fat intake which includes fast foods, fried foods, processed foods and bakery goods; increase your aerobic exercise but not to the point of exhaustion; tighten your ab muscles with daily crunches. Try a professional trainer to get you started on a proper fitness routine. A registered dietitian can tailor a diet that you can live with.

Meanwhile, remember that when you lose the weight, the belly will recede, whether or not you drink beer. Good luck.

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