control your appetite and weight through
smoking. Swiss researchers have reported
that smoking actually causes people to redistribute their weight to the belly area.
In the end, fewer calories and more exercise is what works, says Jo Ann Hattner, a
nutrition consultant with Stanford University
School of Medicine and coauthor of Help! My
Underwear Is Shrinking!
“It’s the prudent diet. It’s more vegetables,
more fruits, more whole grains,” Hattner
says. Emphasize healthy foods containing potassium, calcium, dietary fiber and
vitamin D. Cut back on sugars—especially
sugar-sweetened beverages—as well as saturated fats and refined grains such as those
found in pastries.
“You have to understand that this is a lifelong change,” she says. “This is not a diet in
which you lose weight and then you can go
back to your normal eating patterns. That
just doesn’t work.”
Continued from page 10
One recent, tantalizing study suggests a low-carbohydrate diet may be the best way to target visceral fat.
A Johns Hopkins University study of people
with large bellies found the group that ate a
healthy low-carb diet lost both more pounds
and more belly fat than the group on a low-fat
diet, says Kerry Stewart, director of exercise
physiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the lead author of the study.
Cummings of the University of Washington,
however, doesn’t put too much stock in any
one diet. “Go on whatever diet you think you
can stick to,” he suggests. Once you start losing weight, the payoff comes quickly. With
every pound of belly fat that’s lost, health
risks diminish, too. “There are several studies
that show in order to get dramatic improvement in your metabolic profile, you don’t
need to lose all the weight,” Scherer says. He
says even a 5 to 10 percent weight loss low-ers dangerous levels of insulin and estrogen.
Only an MRI or a CT scan can show how
much visceral fat you really have. But your
waist size is a good indicator. The danger
zone for women is a waist that’s 35 inches
or larger; for men it’s 40 inches or larger. To
measure correctly, wrap a measuring tape
around your bare abdomen, just above the
hip bone. Another way to take stock? Watch
how your pants fit. Says Hattner: “The clothes
really tell the truth.” ;