What does your gut tell you? "DietBytes by Sandy"

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Everyone is shaped differently. Most of us are either the apple or pear-shaped. Apples gain weight around their middle and find it difficult to change their body composition. Pears accumulate the poundage around their thighs, butt, and hips, and may find it equally as difficult to slim down. Although both shapes share similar frustration, they don't face similar health risks.

Apples face much more serious health complications than pears. They're more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer. This is due to the visceral fat (found deeper within the abdomen and surrounding abdominal organs) that can infiltrate your heart, kidneys, liver, and intestines. On top of that -- this type of abdominal fat isn't inactive -- it's actually producing hormones that can cause type 2 diabetes and other health risks!

Can we change our shape? Genetics determines much of our natural form, but with diet and exercise, we can make healthy modifications. On the other hand, certain unhealthy behaviors may influence our predisposition towards one shape or another.

Both smokers and heavy drinkers are more likely to be apple-shaped. This may be because booze prevents the breakdown of fat to some extent, especially around the belly. Studies found this to be more true with beer, rather than wine. And, unfortunately as we get older, we accumulate more and more belly fat. What can we do to prevent it?

1.) Eat healthy: Cut back on saturated (and trans) fats, limit the alcohol, increase mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and load up on whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. Some studies have linked the Mediterranean diet with shrinkage of belly fat.
2.) Exercise most days of the week: both cardio and resistance training will help to dwindle your trunk.
3.) Quit smoking: Enough said!
To find out which shape you are, measure your hips at their widest point with a take measure. Next, measure your waist at your navel. Divide the waist number by the hip number. For men if that ratio is less than or equal to 1, you are a pear. If it's more than 1, you're an apple. For women, less than or equal to 0.8 is a pear, and more than 0.8 is an apple. 

Healthy Eating!
Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN