A delightful study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 1999 (yes I know, it was so long ago), reminded me about one of the very simple tools to assess body fat distribution.
This basically comes down to; are you an apple or a pear? If you store your body fat around your hips or the lower part of your body then you most likely have a pear shaped body. If you tend to gain weight around your middle, then you are probably an apple.
Yes you are beautiful no matter what shape or size, but in the matters of the heart, let’s face it; your health is better off if you keep your waist to hip ratio below a certain figure.
How to calculate your waist-to-hip ratio
Grab a measuring tape and measure your waist circumference. This is usually the smallest part of your body, around your belly button. Do not suck in your tummy when you do this! Next, measure your hips, which is usually the widest part of your body.
For men, it is recommended that your waist circumference is less than 40 inches (102 cm).
For women, it is recommended that your waist circumference is less than 35 inches (88 cm).
What do the numbers mean for you?
If your waist circumference is larger than the recommendations shown below, then you are placed at higher risk of developing diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.
So sometimes, what you look like on the inside sure does matter!
Now that you know your waist and hip circumference, divide the two to get your ratio.
________________ = waist-to-hip ratio
For men your ideal ratio is less than 0.95, whilst for women you are aiming for less than 0.8.
Ratios above 1.0 for men and 0.85 for women indicate very high risk for obesity and diseases associated with the major organs such as your pancreas and heart.
I get it, these measurements may be difficult to face up to, but thanks to simple measurements like the waist-to-hip ratio, you can assess straight away if your ratio is heading sky high.
To improve your ratio into the ‘safe zone’, changes to your diet are vital. It’s also your exercise regime that I am very interested in. Remember, brisk walking is still a great fat burner and for toning the lower part of your body.
To improve your waist-to-hip ratio scores, a combination of calorie restriction and energy expenditure through improved nutrition and exercise is key. Your goal is to reduce the amount of abdominal fat. It may be impossible to lose weight in one area alone, but through a combination of increased activity or exercise and diet monitoring, you can help protect your vital organs, blood glucose and cholesterol profile.
Looking good from the inside is important too!