For Men a Beer Belly Isn’t Just a Muffin Top; It’s an Extra Organ

Julia Serebrinsky interviews John La Puma, author of Refuel: A 24-Day Eating Plan to Shed Fat, Boost Testosterone, and Pump Up Strength and Stamina.

In Refuel you argue that most health and wellness books are written primarily for women, who are more reliable consumers of the category. How does your book rectify this imbalance?

19 out of 20 peer-reviewed weight loss treatment studies are done primarily or solely on women, whose habits, chemistry, and attitude toward food are completely different than men’s. I focus specifically on a men’s health crisis, which remains silent though it continues to escalate.

For example, men used to have a lower prevalence of obesity in contrast to women – in 1999, 27% to women’s 35% – but have caught up since then. Men have more diabetes, and, if they are under the age of 64, are three times likelier to suffer heart attacks than women. Half of the male population will get cancer, as opposed to a third of women.

Refuel is a primer and reward for men and the women in their lives who want to understand the role of food in this equation, how it can either fuel or disrupt the mechanisms that keep them healthy. The goal is to use food with more efficiency for greater stamina and better overall health.

Why is deep belly fat especially toxic to men’s health?

For men, a beer belly is not just a muffin top; it is an extra organ, and not the kind men want. Deep belly fat cells in men are estrogen factories: they take the testosterone that the testicles make and convert it into estrogen. That gives men man boobs, softens their skin, erodes their beard, drive and muscles. It can also create liver disease, demolish stamina, and make you feel like a lump. Fortunately, that damage is reversible.

What is the best strategy for eliminating extra belly fat and elevating falling testosterone levels naturally?

1. Stop eating foods that add more deep belly fat, especially those with added sugar and highly refined carbs

2. Begin doing 5 minutes a day of high intensity interval training, for strength especially

3. Measure your vitamin D level and take a supplement if it is low

4. Eat enough of the foods that raise testosterone naturally–cruciferous vegetables, omega-3 rich fish, oysters, and foods with healthy fats: avocado, olives, and nuts.

What are five small but significant changes you recommend that men make in their eating, exercise, and lifestyle habits to start Refueling today?

1. Eat eggs for breakfast.

2. Before you brush your teeth at night, put away your phone and tablet out of sight until morning

3. Do 3 pushups in the morning right after you get out of bed.

4. If you pick up packaged food, read the list on ingredients on the label before eating.

5. Make my citrus water and drink 3 liters every day.

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