You can't control how or where your body gains or loses weight, but most women tend to carry weight either in their hips and thighs, giving them a pear-shaped body, or in their abdomen and chest, giving them an apple-shaped body. If you have an apple shape, diet is important for your health.
If you have more belly fat, you’re at greater risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Following an ”apple-shape diet” can help reduce your risk.
What Is an Apple Shape?
Women who have an apple-shape body tend to gain weight easiest around their waist, and they store most of their weight deep in their abdominal area. It's also common for apple-shape women to have broader shoulders, a larger bust and thinner arms or legs.
Having a thicker waist isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's when you put on too much weight, and your waist circumference exceeds 35 inches for women (or 40 inches for men), that it becomes a problem. Those are the numbers that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as cut-offs for good health.
Apple Shape and Health Concerns
The fat stored within the abdominal area is called visceral fat, as opposed to fat in other parts of your body which is known as subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat tends to promote inflammation in the body, and that inflammation increases your risk for developing metabolic syndrome and diseases like diabetes or heart disease.
A September 2017 research study published in the journal PLOS One looked at cardiometabolic disease risk in a group of almost 3,000 overweight people. The researchers found that women with higher amounts of visceral abdominal fat tended to have higher blood sugar, triglycerides and blood pressure, as well as lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
Read more: Healthy Low-Carb Eating Plan
Ideal Apple-Shape Diet
Because of the increased risk of diabetes and heart disease that comes along with visceral fat, an apple-body type diet should be lower in refined carbs and unhealthy fats. Fast foods, processed foods and those made with refined flours and added sugar promote belly fat, diabetes and heart disease, so cutting those out can help.
Results of a September 2014 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that following a low-carb diet with less than 40 grams of carbohydrates per day results in more weight and fat loss, as well as lower triglycerides and higher HDL (good) cholesterol, as opposed to following a low-fat diet.
An apple-body type diet may not need to go as low as 40 grams of carbs a day, but cutting out refined carbs and eating more healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, avocado and salmon can still make difference in your weight and health, and go a long way toward reducing belly fat.
An ideal apple-body type diet might include a vegetable omelet for breakfast, a large salad with avocado and grilled chicken for lunch, vegetables and hummus for a snack and salmon with roasted vegetables for dinner.
If you have an apple-shaped body, exercises are very important too. They can help with visceral fat weight loss and also reduce your risk of metabolic diseases. When it comes to the best exercises, the most important thing is to find the kind of workout that works for you and your lifestyle.
A study published in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of Diabetes Research shows that both a high-intensity interval workout and at least 45 minutes or prolonged cardio exercise work equally well to reduce visceral abdominal fat in women.
- PLOS One: “Body Fat Distribution, in Particular Visceral Fat, Is Associated With Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Obese Women”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Assessing Your Weight”
- Journal of Diabetes Research: “Comparable Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training and Prolonged Continuous Exercise Training on Abdominal Visceral Fat Reduction in Obese Young Women”
- Annals of Internal Medicine: "Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Randomized Trial"