People come in many shapes and sizes, and they don’t always conform to classic ideals of beauty. An overweight person, for example, can have a thin face. And an otherwise thin girl can have protruding tummies, or “pooch,” as it’s sometimes called. If you happen to be one of the latter, understanding where that bulge comes from could help you get rid of it.
One of the most likely reasons for a poochy stomach is an underdeveloped core. That’s the collection of trunk muscles that reside between the hips and the rib cage, supporting the abdomen, lower back and pelvis. Tone those muscles and you may well send that pooch back to its kennel. But there’s more to a flat stomach than looking better.
Core muscles are key to good posture, balance and resistance to injuries that could cause pain in the lower back, hips and legs. What’s more, an exercise program that tones the core muscles should be just one part of a more comprehensive fitness plan. For adults, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week.
Yes, someone can appear to be quite thin and still have a large accumulation of belly fat. Alas, it’s probably genetic. And once again, it’s not just about appearance. Excess abdominal fat is a major risk factor for diabetes and heart and blood vessel disease.
Excess belly fat generates hormones and other toxins called free radicals that cause inflammation, damage blood vessels and have other chronic effects on your health. The good news is that moderate lifestyle changes can substantially lower your risk for diabetes and other obesity-related problems.
Then there's a condition increasingly recognized among baby boomers called normal weight obesity, or NWO. It may sound like an oxymoron. But it's possible to be normal weight but still have a ratio of body fat — more than 30 percent for women and 20 percent for men — that puts you at risk for obesity-related health problems.
NWO is a condition that won't show up on Body Mass Index calculations, which estimate body fat based on height and weight. NWO is best diagnosed by a physician, who will use bioelectric impedance or air displacement to measure body composition.
A healthy diet along with an exercise program could do wonders for your form and for your overall health.
Although smoking is commonly believed to support weight loss, a September 2012 study in PLOS One found that smoking increased belly fat.
Lose the Bloat
Most people experience occasional bloating, which is feeling of gassiness, pressure in the stomach or a sense that the stomach is distended. Indigestion is its primary cause. But it's quite possible to experience bloating from gas caused by lactose intolerance, fizzy drinks, high fiber foods and gum chewing, which causes you to swallow air.
Smoking can be another causes of gas. It can also be caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or other problems with the digestive tract. Chronic bloating that visibly distends your stomach should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Another cause of distended stomach is chronic constipation, which affects 15 to 25 percent of the population, and is more common in women than men. Rather than laxatives, the better way to go is taking fiber supplements, which bulk up the stool and keep you regular. Best yet is boosting the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
- Harvard Medical School: Core conditioning: It’s not just about abs
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: Recommendations for Physical Activity
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Causes of Diabetes
- Gastroenterology & Hepatology: Pathophysiology, Evaluation, and Treatment of Bloating
- Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology: Chronic onstipation: Current Treatment Options
- Today's Dietician: When Thin Is Fat — If Not Managed, Normal Weight Obesity Can Cause Health Issues
- PLOS One: Cigarette Smoking Increases Abdominal and Visceral Obesity but Not Overall Fatness: An Observational Study
- NIDDK: Gas in the Digestive Tract