Vanity might be enough to motivate men to lose a beer belly, but good health is reason to lose extra weight, too. According to David Katz, MD, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, shedding that extra layer of belly fat can have a profound impact on how you look, feel, and perform in all areas of your life. Here are just a few ways that belly fat can mess with your health, as well as reasons why taking it off can help make your RealAge up to 3 years younger.
Losing Belly Fat Can Enhance Your Sex Life
That's right: Losing weight will improve your sex life. Researchers found that obese people were 25 times more likely to report sexual problems than normal-weight folks. "Being heavier is going to interfere with self-esteem and the comfort of sexual activity," Katz says. Being overweight can also cause erectile dysfunction. Losing weight and exercise can help restore your libido and sexual function.
Belly Fat Can Lower Testosterone
We don't want to say that all those extra pounds make you less of a man, but obesity is linked to low levels of testosterone -- the sex hormone that puts hair on your chest, power in your muscles, and oomph in your sex drive. Low testosterone can also wreak havoc on your energy levels, motivation, and overall sense of well-being.
Belly Fat Promotes a Couch Potato Lifestyle, and Vice-Versa
Though it's possible to be fit and fat, 80% of people who are overweight or obese are not, says Noel Bairey-Merz, MD, director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. The couch potato lifestyle can make reaching for the remote feel like an endurance event. Your muscles go flabby, and your heart and lungs can't deliver enough blood and oxygen to your body. More important than going on a diet to drop a few pounds, Bairey-Merz says, is exercising regularly. Do that and the weight will come off.
Losing Belly Fat Helps Relieve Joint and Back Pain
Obesity and inactivity can lead to and worsen back pain, achy joints, and arthritis. "Imagine putting a pack on your back and lugging it around," Katz says. "It wears you out. It hurts your back and your joints. You're always tired. That's what that excess weight is doing." If you lose weight, the pain will clear up. Luckily, small losses add up to big benefits. Losing just 1 pound of weight will take 4 pounds of stress off your joints.
Losing Belly Fat Helps Prevent Heart Disease and Diabetes
Belly fat is an independent risk factor for death from heart disease. What that means is, even if you get A's on the rest of your health report card, belly fat alone increases your risk of dying from a heart attack. Unfortunately, men who are prone to belly fat are also more likely to have more plaque in their arteries, inflammation, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, and/or heart disease, or to suffer heart failure. Losing weight, not smoking, exercising, and eating right can save you from that fate.