Men with a big belly is not an unusual sight in our country. You have the pot-bellied shopkeeper, the paanwala, the nextdoor uncle and why, even your dad tauji or chacha and mama. We have all grown up seeing the ubiquitous lecherous cop with a huge paunch wielding a danda in Hindi films. Not to say they are not visible in real life on city roads. Ironically, as a society, we don’t bat an eyelid at the sight of a middle-aged pot-bellied man. We somehow don’t expect him to be otherwise because a big belly is also considered a sign of affluence and prosperity (some people also refer to such men as healthy!). Had that been so, India would have been the most prosperous nation in the world!
Coming back to the point, a pot belly is not necessarily a direct result of drinking plenty of beer. Even non-alcoholics have it. Pot belly is generally caused due to excessive accumulation of fat (visceral fat) in the abdominal area. There are many reasons why men have pot bellies.
Genes play an important role in a man having a pot belly. Most Indian men have a greater waist circumference and a greater waist to hip ratios. There are two types of body types: apple shaped and pear shaped. A man who stores fat in the lower part of his body is known to have a pear shaped body. A man who stores fat in the stomach and middle section is known to have an apple shaped body. There are possibilities that men who have an apple shaped body have many members in their family. Having said that, it is wrong to blames genes alone. You should look at other factors too.
Alcohol, consumed regularly can also add to your circumference. Although a pot belly or beer belly is associated with beer, other types of alcohol can also be a contributory factor. So it is important to regulate your alcohol intake.
Smoking also adds to belly fat. Smoking tends to increase the production of certain male hormones which increases the amount of visceral fat in the body. This leads to the development of big paunches in man.
Stress releases a hormone called cortisol which leads to increase in hunger pangs. This in turn leads to binge eating which results in the accumulation of fats which is stored in the abdomen as belly fat. Cortisol also removes fats from other parts of the body and stores it in the abdomen thus leading to abdominal fat.
It is also age related, especially for urban men who lead sedentary lives. Most individuals lose muscles and the body’s metabolic ability to burn calories slows down which leads to gain in weight.
Diet and lifestyle
Long working hours, irregular meals, eating junk food and lack of exercise all result in pot bellies. Dr. Pradip Shah, a physician, from Fortis Hospital says, “Men who have pot bellies and a waist size over 40 inches i.e. 102 centimeters are at a risk of various problems like diabetes, high blood pressure etc.
So what to do?
If you can’t make drastic changes in your lifestyle, start with small ones. You are a middle-aged man and if you don’t become ‘wise belly-wise’ now, there is no disputing the fact that crudely put, you are digging your own grave or put it mildly, bracing for an old age riddled with disease.
So, act now. Can’t give up drinking totally? Control. Cut down on your consumption. Are a foodie? C’mon you have been hogging thus far, surely you can slow down for your own sake. Start taking small meals. Chuck the carbs at night and target the fruits instead. Can’t exercise? Okay. Don’t take the lift when you reach office. Ask the driver to drop you a kilometer before your house. Reschedule your time. Begin for office 15 minutes in advance. Ask the driver to meet you at a distance. Drive your own car? Take public transport for a change. Walk as far as you can and then try to take an auto, bus or a cab. Ditch the elevator and the escalator and look for the stairs in a mall. Don’t get into the driver’s seat every time you want to buy something. Be a sport. Help your wife. Offer to get the bread, butter and eggs and walk to the grocery shop.
The bad news that it is easy to store belly fat but very very difficult to get rid of it. You cannot target your belly in your exercise regimen (if you do have one) Doctors say that crunches tone the back and ab muscles but do little to burn the belly fat.
However, the upshot is that since visceral fat is metabolically active, it’s the first type to burn off if you exercise regularly. So, do what you can to keep yourself active.
Small measures can lead to big results. Remember you are middle-aged and the clock is ticking.