In a recent survey, two-thirds of respondents said it's their stomach, and the jiggly belly fat that builds up as the years go by.
It's unattractive, potentially dangerous, and stubbornly tough to get rid of.
But the editors of Prevention magazine say they've found the science that can help end the scourge of belly fat.
The answers are in their new book, "The Flat Belly Diet" (to read an excerpt, click here.
On The Early Show's Saturday Edition, Prevention Editor in Chief Liz Vaccariello discussed how belly fat harms your health, and how to lose those pounds around your middle.
BELLY FAT SEEMS TO BE A VERY SPECIFIC TYPE OF FAT. WHAT CAUSES "BELLY FAT"?
There are two types of belly fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous is the fat you see, the "inch you can pinch." And some subcutaneous fat is necessary (it keeps you warm in winter). Visceral fat is more hidden. It is dangerous, and difficult to lose. It's caused by a lot of things, including cortisol, a hormone produced when we're under stress. You can cut calories and exercise religiously, and still have visceral belly fat, and lots of it.
SIXTY-SEVEN PERCENT OF YOUR READERS SAID THEIR BELLIES ARE THEIR LEAST FAVORITE BODY PART. BUT "BELLY FAT" IS MORE THAN UNSIGHTLY, IT CAN BE DANGEROUS. WHY?
Too much of both fats are dangerous. Too much subcutaneous fat is a visible sign of being overweight, or even obese, which we know creates a risk for many diseases. But visceral fat can be deadly. Because it is so close to your heart and your liver, it can increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.
BUT YOU SAY THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO GET RID OF IT, STARTING WITH A DIET HIGH IN "MUFAS." WHAT ARE THEY, AND WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THIS WORKS?
"MUFAs" are monounsaturated fats. They live in oils, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocados, olives, and dark chocolate. We began to realize the benefits of "MUFAS" in 2007, when Spanish researchers published a study in the journal "Diabetes Care" that showed that eating a diet rich in MUFAs can help prevent weight gain in your belly. Researchers looked at three types of diets, one high in saturated fat, another high in carbs, and a third rich in "MUFAS," on patients with "abdominal fat distribution," or belly fat. Only the MUFA diet reduced the accumulation of belly fat, and, more specifically, visceral belly fat. And that prompted us to come up with this plan.
WITH THE HOLIDAY SEASON RIGHT UPON US, YOU'VE BROUGHT SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR HOW WE CAN USE "MUFAS," ALONG WITH SOME TIPS. YOU SAY, EAT FOUR 400-CALORIE MEALS PER DAY.
Yes. As we approach the holidays, you know we all start to say, there's no point in starting a diet now, with all the parties and dinners. But you can incorporate MUFAS into every meal, and I've brought along some examples of great recipes. You begin with "sassy water," containing ginger, cucumber, lemon and mint; it's much tastier than plain water. Then, for starters, delicious pumpkin bisque. Next, we have roasted potatoes with blue cheese and walnut butter. You don't have to give up the potatoes, but you add MUFAS to the dish with walnut butter. And then, dessert: chocolate drizzled popcorn with cashews. As long as you use dark chocolate, and add the cashews, you've got two MUFAS.
And you don't have to stay away from the Thanksgiving leftovers; try a Turkey and Avocado Cobb Salad. You should remember, never go more than four hours without eating. And, you can find ways of incorporating MUFAS into your meals.
You don't only have to eat MUFAS. For the holidays, you can add them to stuffing, cranberry sauce, all kinds of things.
Fighting Belly Fat:
BUT YOU ALSO SAY BELLY FAT IS ABOUT MORE THAN EATING, IT'S ABOUT STRESS,
AND YOU NEED TO CONTROL THAT.
Yes. When you're under stress, you produce a hormone called "cortisol," which turns into belly fat. Learning to control the stress in your life with take you a long way toward losing your belly fat.
AND YOU SAY, IT HELPS TO BUILD A SUPPORT GROUP AROUND YOU?
Seventy percent of people who've lost weight and kept it off say they have a strong social support group. So, get your friends to join you, or find an online support group.
FINALLY, YOU SAY FIND A WAY TO BEAT YOUR EMOTIONAL EATING.
If you're an emotional eater, you go straight for the sweets, or anything bad. Sometimes, it helps to keep a food diary, but don't only record what you've eaten, and how much. Record your feelings so you can identify why you eat what you do, and that will help break unhealthy habits.
FOR RECIPES, GO TO PAGE 2.