If you think you’ve got a big butt, here’s some good news! Not all fat is bad fat. It seems that just going by BMI might not actually tell you if you are healthy or not. Depending on where most of your fat is deposited will tell you if you need to get more serious about healthy eating and exercise. Fat stored around your butt (your big butt) and thighs is actually the best place for fat to be, so if you’ve got a ‘pear-shaped’ body, you can rest assured your body is storing your fat in the best way. Fat actually serves a purpose in your body – from keeping you warm and storing energy, to releasing hormones that control your metabolism.

The Upside of Having a Big Butt

big butt, belly fat, losing weight, diet, weight loss, healthy eating, exercise

New research shows that pear shaped women have a lower risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes than those who are apple shaped. Storing fat in your butt and hips is safe storage for fat as there aren’t any major organs down there compared to when fat is stored around your abdomen. Having fat surrounding your heart, lungs and liver can actually be toxic for your organs and lead to an increase in inflammation that causes heart disease and diabetes.

“’It is better for people of normal weight to be pear-shaped rather than apple-shaped, so that weight is carried on the bottom half of their body rather than around the middle,” Dr Norbert Stefan (lead author of the study).

The fat stored in your butt is actually different to the fat stored in your tummy as it is less active than visceral fat (the fat that surrounds your organs). Another study took fat samples from the thigh and the abdomen and compared their genes that program fat to react with hormones. They found that abdominal fat in both men and women was more active. White fat in particular is bad for your organs because it produces the hormone adiponectin making your liver and muscles sensitive to insulin. However when you have too much fat, adiponectin production shuts down and risk of disease increases. Having a big butt is a lot better for you than having stored belly fat.

The Danger of Belly Fat

The problem of belly fat is the amount of fat stored around your organs – this is called visceral fat. It is hard to figure out how much of your belly fat is visceral fat (the dangerous kind) and how much is subcutaneous fat (fat stored just under the skin in healthy fat cells). The only way to effectively figure out how much dangerous fat you have is by having a CT scan which is quite expensive. The best way to figure out if you have a problem is to look at your belly. If you’ve got a big belly in comparison to the rest of your body, most likely you need to do something about it. As a general guide, women with a waist circumference more than 35 inches and men with a waist circumference more than 40 inches are at increased disease risk.

Visceral fat could also be a marker for dementia. A study carried out in Northern California followed over 6,500 people over the course of about 36years. Those with the greatest belly diameter had a higher risk of dementia than those with smaller bellies. Study researcher, Whitmer speculates that “substances such as leptin, a hormone released by the belly fat, may have some adverse effect on the brain. Leptin plays a role in appetite regulation but also in learning and memory.”

Getting in Good Shape

big butt, belly fat, losing weight, diet, weight loss, healthy eating, exerciseSo it seems that fat – and having a big butt – is not generally a bad thing – actually our bodies need fat stores to keep us healthy. “Even though many women hate having large hips and thighs, that pear shape actually reduces their risk of heart disease and diabetes. In fact, women who have heart attacks tend to have more belly fat than thigh fat,” said Dr. Steven Smith. But how can you have a big butt and be healthy?

The key is healthy eating and healthy exercise. Kylie Anderson, a holistic health coach, recommends eating less sugary and processed foods (which tend to be high in salt and unhealthy fats) as these foods tend to head “straight to the belly”. Eat fresh vegetables, fruit and lean proteins. Start by looking at your plate and documenting what foods you actually consume in a week. From there you can see where you need to cut down and where you can incorporate better food choices. If you have certain dietary needs, you may benefit from consulting a dietitian to help you get on the right foot. Even better news: at AJ’s, we have our very own on-site dietitian with whom you make an appointment!

Once you’ve got your food under control, you need to start exercising smarter to shift the fat away from your belly. Whilst generally most people lose fat evenly over the body, if you do specific target exercises, you can start to shift that dangerous belly fat. You need to exercise 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes doing cardio, which will burn fat, and strength training which will help shift that weight. Mix it up each time so your body has a chance to recover well and so you stay motivated. Group fitness classes are great for getting a good mix of cardio and strength training. Here at AJ’s we offer different classes to suit all types of people, come in and have a chat and we can help you get back into a healthy good shape. Your heart and body will thank you for it!

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