Why Being Fat Keeps You From Being All the Man You Can Be

5fat reduction

Soundtrack: Dead Prez “Way Of Life”

Our latest entry at COMPLETE CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE was about women, fat, and fibroids. As a follow-up to that, I want to specifically discuss men and body fat. The dangers of fat, especially belly fat, are not just limited to women. There are some very serious complications that men can develop from having a spare tire around the waist.

One interesting fact about fat is that once you get fat, even if you lose the weight, it becomes easier to get fat again. When you consume more calories than you burn off, fat cells in the body swell to as much as six times their minimum size, and they begin to multiply — from 40 billion in an average adult up to 100 billion. This is why muscle takes up less space than fat, a 190 pound muscular person will be smaller than a 190 pound fat person. The fat is swollen, fluffy.

The good news is that you can still lose weight after your fat cells swell and multiply; in fact, when you lose weight, your fat cells shrink. Although their total number only decreases slightly (if at all), the cells become less metabolically active and remain in your body, waiting for you to pick up a bag of pork rinds so they can expand again. This means that it’s better to try to maintain a normal weight than to gain and lose weight on fast, “quick fix” types of diets. Someone who has maintained a normal weight (i.e. has been relatively thin) all their life will have an easier time staying at that weight than someone whose fat cells have swelled and multiplied.

Another unique problem that comes from excess fat is that fat tissue attracts immune system cells called mircrophages that promote inflammation. So, if you are carrying any extra fat, your body begins to produce an immune response similar to the reaction your body exhibits when you develop the flu or have an injury. Inflammation’s intended purpose in the body is to fight infection. Therefore, your body sees the extra fat calories that you consume from fried calamari and greasy pizza as an invasion in the body. Not cool.

One of the main issues with fat is that it behaves differently in different parts of the body. Men typically carry excess weight in the midsection; thus, if you gain weight (whether you drink beer or not), most of it will go directly to your gut first. Belly fat increases the likelihood of bad cholesterol (LDL), triggers extra fat in the bloodstream, and raises blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Furthermore, abdominal fat tends to be deeper inside the body, as opposed to hip or thigh fat, which is stored directly under the skin.

Fat cells within the abdomen are metabolically more active than fat cells located in other areas of the body. They release more fatty acids, which can lead to diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and certain cancers. Abdominal fat cells may also affect the healthy functioning of the liver..

Another huge issue for men with excess body fat is that fat cells secrete extra estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone that makes the female body feminine. It is natural for women to have have more body fat than men, on average, because fat cells produce estrogen. Men naturally produce some estrogen from the testes and that estrogen plays an important role in regulating a healthy libido, improving brain function (especially memory) and protecting the heart.

When estrogen levels are too high in men, testosterone levels are reduced, and many men experience fatigue, muscle tone loss, decreased sexual function, and in some cases, enlarged prostates. Excess estrogen can also lead to man boobs. It signals the body to trigger the growth of breasts. Again, not cool.

What might be the worst side-effect of all for men with too much belly fat is a shrinkage of the penis. As fat accumulates on the lower abdomen, the apparent size of the penis changes. A large pad of fat on the pubic mound makes the shaft of the penis look shorter. Most men are not aware that half the length of the penis is inside the body. The penis actually starts deep inside the body at the pubic bone. Adding more padding onto this area of the body serves to cover up more of the penis. In some cases, abdominal fat all but buries the penis. Bringing the front of the body backward allows for more of the internal penis to be visible to the eye. Doctors estimate that for every 35 pounds of body fat that a man loses, another inch of penis becomes visible.

In addition to this apparent shrinkage, belly fat can also cause an actual reduction in the size of the penis and the quality of erections. The reduction — in both length and thickness — typically isn’t dramatic but may be noticeable. A man can lose up to an inch of length because of the effects of fat.

There are a couple of mechanisms involved in reducing penis size. The main one as it relates to body fat is the slow deposit of fatty substances (plaques) inside tiny arteries in the penis, which impairs blood flow to the organ. This process, known as atherosclerosis, is the same one that contributes to blockages inside the coronary arteries — a leading cause of heart attack. Erections occur when blood fills the penile tissue, causing it to expand. Reduced blood flow means reduced erections. Not. Cool.

The moral of the story is, the gut affects a whole lot more than just how your clothes fit. Your MANHOOD literally and figuratively depends on you keeping your midsection free of excess fat. Your body needs its testosterone production to be at optimum levels in order for you to be the man that you are supposed to be. Excess fat is a sure way to reduce that testosterone production. We all know how to lose fat. Eat food that comes from the ground e.g. fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes. Exercise. Like your life depends on it. Because it does.

Peace.

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Fat and Fibroids

belly fat fibroids

Soundtrack: Olivia Newton-John “Physical”

Kanye West “The New Workout Plan”

An expanding waistline is sometimes considered the price of getting older. For women, this can be especially true after menopause, when body fat tends to shift to the abdomen. Yet belly fat is about much more than just how you fit into your clothes. Research shows that belly fat also carries serious health risks. In my work with women across the United States I have seen the causes and the effects of belly fat. I am compelled to address this topic head-on.

The trouble with belly fat is that it’s not limited to the extra layer of padding located just below the skin (subcutaneous fat). It also includes visceral fat — which lies deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your internal organs. Although subcutaneous fat poses cosmetic concerns, visceral fat is linked with far more dangerous health problems, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Colorectal cancer

Research also has associated belly fat with an increased risk of premature death — regardless of overall weight. In fact, some studies have found that even when women were considered a normal weight based on standard body mass index (BMI) measurements, a large waistline increased the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.

Belly fat doesn’t just lay idle at your beltline. Researchers describe it as an active “organ” in your body — one that churns out hormones and inflammatory substances.

“Abdominal fat is thought to break down easily into fatty acids, which flow directly into the liver and into muscle,” says Lewis Kuller, MD, DPH, professor and past chair of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.

When these excess fatty acids drain into the liver, they trigger a chain reaction of changes — increasing the production of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides. During this time insulin can also become less effective in controlling blood sugar, so insulin resistance sets in, he explains.

Blood sugars start to get out of balance. Fats and clots get into the bloodstream, and that sets the stage for diabetes, heart disease, and more.

And research shows that abdominal fat triggers a change in angiotensin, a hormone that controls blood vessel constriction — increasing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack, Kuller explains.

Indeed, belly fat is a key indicator of “metabolic syndrome,” a cluster of abnormalities that include high levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides, as well as low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. This combination of risks has an impact on mortality from heart disease. In addition to all of this, there is another very common effect of belly fat that uniquely impacts women.

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Uterine Fibroids are benign tumors of muscle and connective tissue that grow in and/or around the wall of a woman’s uterus. There is one major cause for the development and growth of fibroids and that is estrogen dominance, the state of having too much estrogen in one’s system relative to progesterone.

From the onset of puberty to menopause, a woman’s body is designed to have estrogen and progesterone work together to fuel and regulate her monthly cycle.

The bulk of estrogen is released into a woman’s blood circulation during the first half of her monthly cycle. Estrogen works to build the lining of a woman’s uterus to prepare it for implantation of a fertilized egg should fertilization occur.

The bulk of progesterone is released into a woman’s blood stream during the second half of a healthy monthly cycle. During this time, progesterone acts to maintain the rich lining of the uterus that estrogen helped to build up during the first two weeks of her cycle.

If a fertilized egg successfully implants into the uterine wall i.e. if a woman becomes pregnant, her body must continue to produce a large amount of progesterone on a continuous basis to maintain a thick and well vascularized uterine wall throughout the course of pregnancy. This job of continuous progesterone production is handled nicely by a healthy placenta.

If there is no implantation/pregnancy, a woman’s body stops producing large amounts of progesterone, which results in sloughing off and elimination of the thickened uterine lining, also known as a woman’s monthly flow.

This cycle repeats itself about once every month until a woman experiences menopause, with estrogen dominating the first half of each cycle, and progesterone dominating the second half.

Sadly, many women and even teenage girls in industrialized countries have too much estrogen and/or too little progesterone in their systems.

There are many reasons why estrogen dominance is a problem, but the relevant answer for this post is that having estrogen dominance causes a woman’s uterine lining to thicken far more than is healthy during her monthly cycles. This repeated, excessive thickening can result in localized growths in the muscle and connective tissue that line the uterus. We call these growths uterine fibroids.

All of these physiological facts have convinced me that addressing estrogen dominance is essential to shrinking and preventing uterine fibroids.

What causes estrogen dominance?

Exposure to Xenoestrogens is one significant factor in estrogen dominance. Xenoestrogens are estrogens that are produced outside of the body. Here is a list of significant sources of xenoestrogens:

  • birth control pills
  • hormone replacement drugs
  • condom spermicides
  • conventional personal care products, particularly cosmetics
  • Plastic cookware
  • Growth hormones found in factory-farmed animal products
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Foaming agents in soaps and detergents

Estrogen is produced in three different areas of the body: ovaries (testicles in men), adrenal glands, and fat cells. That’s right. Estrogen is produced by fat cells. The more fat cells a woman has, the greater chance she has of experiencing estrogen dominance.

It is estimated that three in every four American women have fibroids, with one in four women seeking medical care for the condition. African American women are three to nine times more likely to develop fibroids. Uterine fibroids can be hard to combat given the fact that women are diagnosed with the disease at various stages and when they are in various physical conditions. While the fibroids may develop slowly in some women, others may develop more aggressively. Right now, hysterectomy is the most common treatment for uterine fibroids, accounting for 200,000, or 30 percent, of all hysterectomies in the United States.

I believe that a woman having her uterus is a good thing. Fibroids and the hysterectomies that are resulting from them are a silent epidemic in this country, especially among Black women. When we look at the three areas of the body where estrogen is produced, there is something that jumps out. Fat cells and overly active adrenal glands can both be addressed with the same prescription: EXERCISE.

Adrenal glands are activated by stress. When we feel unsafe in any way then the body’s “fight or flight” response kicks in and the adrenal glands produce adrenaline to make it easier to fight or flee. When we exercise, in addition to improving the way our body looks, we also get some direct sress-relieving benefits:

  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
  • It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

If you’re experiencing extreme symptoms from fibroids then there is a very good chance that you’re also experiencing a high level of stress as well as carrying too much belly fat, in addition to exposure to Xenoestrogens. Everyone can immediately address a large part of what is causing their fibroids by exercising. And I don’t mean just walking around the block, even though every little bit helps. I mean exercise like your life depends on it, because it does. Swim, run, do yoga, lift weights, dance, whatever works for you. Just get moving.

Belly fat is the enemy.