An extra pound or two isn’t really all that bad right? Unfortunately that extra pound probably went straight to your waist. Sure you can hide the belly fat but you can’t hide the health risks that go along with that expanding belly. Numerous studies have shown that belly fat is the greatest threat to your health, increasing your risk of heart disease, hypertension, cancer and dementia.

Experts say that a waist that’s more than 32 inches ups the risk for diabetes. And even worse, women whose waists are bigger than 35 inches are twice as likely to die of heart disease than women who measure less than 28 inches according to research from the National Institute of Health.

But why is belly fat so dangerous?

Belly fat also referred to as visceral fat lies deep in your abdomen and surrounds your organs. The fat secretes toxic hormones that thicken the walls of coronary blood vessels. The thickening of walls increases the risk of having a heart attack.

One organ that becomes threatened by belly fat is your liver. The liver cleanses your body from toxins and wastes and when it is infiltrated with fat it has to work even harder to eliminate the waste.

Belly fat also affects your muscles making them less effective.

So, needless to say that belly fat isn’t just an embarrassing flab beneath a swimsuit or cover up, it is a multitude of health risks that needs to be taken care of before something detrimental happens.

What can you do?

The first thing you can do and that is extremely simple is cut back on calories. No, you don’t have to limit yourself or watch every little thing you eat. If you cut your daily caloric intake by 100 calories that alone is 12 pounds a year. One hundred calories is nothing. It’s simply eliminating that one extra soda, or putting that bag of chips or cookie down. Nothing major and nothing that will leave you dying of hunger.

Probably the most effective way to reduce belly fat is by running. Thirty minutes, two to four times a week is sufficient. Try varying your running intervals by increasing your speed for a couple minutes at a time, that will help blast calories faster. The great thing about running is you don’t need any equipment besides a comfortable pair of running shoes.

Cardio is great for burning hundreds of calories but as soon as you are done your metabolism slows down. Weight training or strength training on the other hand keeps your metabolism burning for hours even after you finish your work out. Regular weight lifting can boost your metabolic rate by 15 percent. Building muscle mass eliminates that unwanted flab.

Make sure you get enough sleep. At least seven to eight hours if possible. Sleep deprivation increases weight gain by increasing your appetite. Don’t work out right before you go to bed. Your body needs to cool off after working out and that prevents sleep as well as drinking alcohol or caffeine right before bed. If you have trouble sleeping try eating a piece of fruit, something that is easy to digest, slightly before bedtime. That little snack will help your body from having hunger pangs or reaching starvation mode in the middle of the night. Believe it or not but sleep helps weight loss.

Of course when trying to lose the flabby middle you need to watch what you eat, don’t skip meals and eat high protein and fiber meals. The goal is to get your metabolism revved up. If you get your body moving, you’ll get your metabolism moving and that middle will be flat in no time.