Men: How to get rid of man boobs, pot bellies and excess midriffs

Why men suffer from man boobs, pot bellies and excess midriffs

It feels like men, more so than ever, are dieting, exercising and trying to lose weight. No different to women (in this respect) most are painfully aware that it comes down to 3 basic principles – genetics, the number of calories consumed (or more accurately the amount and type of food ingested) and the energy expended by getting into shape. They say we can’t choose our parents but apparently through healthy eating and regular exercise we can control our sizes, weight and shape!

As a rule, men generally store excess fat and weight around their midriff and belly. This often extends to the chest when a man hits his late 40s (we’re talking man boobs here) and beyond – particularly if he leads a sedentary lifestyle, eats a poor diet and drinks too much alcohol.

But when stubborn body fat refuses to go despite concerted efforts, through good eating and exercise, what then?

Well there’s some good news and some bad news! Recent research now reveals that there is a more sinister reason for the weight not coming off – chemical calories. These can be found in everyday health and beauty products, shampoos, body lotions, shaving gels, sun creams and soaps.

Doctors at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York claim that phthalates, the chemical ingredients found in 70% of cosmetics as well as many household cleaning products, have been shown to throw the body’s natural weight control system, a delicate balance of hormones, off balance. They also suggest that through daily use they may be linked to childhood obesity and weight problems in adults.

Another substance, Bisphenol-A (BPA), also present in containers and bottles, has also been found to provide chemical calories. Marketed as ‘endocrine disruptors’, they are known to affect the glands and hormones that regulate numerous bodily functions.

In addition to weight gain and obesity studies on animals and humans, they have consistently shown that these chemicals depress testosterone levels, mimic the effects of oestrogen, affect semen quality and give subtle alterations in the reproductive organs of male babies.

If that’s not bad enough, those who follow a low-fat diet are more likely to suffer. By reducing the fat they consume, they also reduce the fat-soluble vitamins in the body. That often leaves the skin dry and moisturisers are smoothed on to compensate. Without even realising it, most are unwittingly causing another chemical calorie intake – by supplying more through the skin.

In 2007, researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York found that phthalates were contributing to abdominal obesity and insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes) in men. They found that those with the highest level of phthalates in their urine had more belly fat and insulin resistance, and suggested that depressed testosterone levels due to the chemicals was the underlying cause of their weight gain.

Sadly, these chemical calories can’t be avoided completely, but they can be reduced. One way to do that is by checking the labels for phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA) in the products consumed or more accurately absorbed. Furthermore consume organic food and choose toiletries that don’t contain them.  Remember, it’s not what we eat but what we absorb that matters. Within 26 seconds of applying something to our bodies it can be found within every organ of our body.

So to round up:

  • Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes
  • Opt to eat organic as much as possible
  • Eat more protein from lean cuts of meat, chicken and fish
  • Eat complex carbohydrates like oats, quinoa and other whole grains only once or twice a day to provide energy
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Eat less pasta, white bread and other refined carbohydrates and processed foods
  • Limit your salt intake
  • Reduce take-ins and fast foods
  • Drink less alcohol and fizzy drinks
  • Drink more water
  • Chose toiletries and shaving products, soaps and creams without PBA, phthalates and mineral oil or petroleum
  • Supplement with a multivitamin
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