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Why Your Waist Circumference Matters More Than Your BMI

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Doctors and the media like to focus on BMI. It’s a measure of your weight in relation to your height and is a pretty good guide to whether people are overweight or not.

Strangely, though, it’s not the best measure of health. That’s because it is a rather crude tool. Science tells us that the distribution of weight across the body is important. For instance, the more weight a person has around their middle, the less healthy they are. But, of course, BMI doesn’t capture this. By BMI’s standards, many bodybuilders and trained athletes are also overweight or obese.

Why Waist Circumference Matters

Waist circumference is the distance around the trunk of the body, as measured at the navel. It is one of the first areas to expand when people put on weight. 

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s close to the liver, an organ that can actually grow in size considerably based on the amount of fat that it contains. And secondly, it is highly prone to the visceral fat collection, the fat that sits around the organs. 

Both these types of fat are extremely dangerous because they can both lead to unwanted health conditions. Visceral fat in particular is associated with metabolic diseases and early mortality. 

For this reason, waist circumference is what really matters when it comes to your health. Ideally, you want your waist circumference to be half your height or less. So if you are 70 inches tall, your waist circumference should be less than 35 inches. 

Some medical organisations already have recommendations for maximum waist size and the point where things start to get dangerous. For women, this starts at 35 inches, while for men, it’s 40 inches. However, you will need to consider whether this applies to you and if you are of average height. 

How To Reduce Waist Circumference

While people with large waists and low BMI are rare, they do exist. And that’s one of the reasons why simply standing on the scales and tracking your weight isn’t particularly helpful. 

The good news is that there are all sorts of strategies that you can use to reduce the size of your waist and get your fitness back on track. 

Perhaps the best way is to consume more nuts and seeds. People who eat more of these products tend to have significantly smaller waists than those who don’t. While they are high in fat, nuts appear to have positive metabolic effects, encouraging the burning of unwanted energy stores in the body. 

Another approach is to increase the quality of your diet, as suggested by A Lean Life. The more fruits and vegetables you can consume, the better outcomes you’ll have. 

A high-quality diet encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria and reduces the glycemic load. Both these factors then reprogram metabolism towards leanness and away from storing fatty tissue around the stomach and elsewhere. 
Lastly, you can increase exercise. However, it is unlikely to have a significant effect unless accompanied by dietary changes as well.

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