How Does Belly Fat Impact ED?
Nearly 74 percent of men are overweight or obese, according to estimates from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. While this subset of the male population is at greater risk for diabetes and heart disease, a beer belly can also lead to problems in the bedroom. Certain positions are off the sexual menu, but more importantly, a big stomach can lead to erectile dysfunction (ED). Discover the link between belly fat and ED and what you can do to alleviate the situation.
What is belly fat?
Belly fat is more than just fat cells directly under the skin as you might find in other areas of the body. The outside layer of belly fat is known as subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is the belly fat that gets stored deep within your abdominal cavity, surrounding major organs such as the pancreas and the liver. Poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, alcohol intake, age and genetics can all play roles in the development of belly fat.
However, not every man who's technically overweight, or at least according to the body mass index (BMI), has a dangerous level of visceral fat. Outside of scheduling an appointment with your doctor, the best way to check if you have too much belly fat is with a tape measure or by reading your pants size. If you have a waist of 40 inches or more, visceral fat has become problematic to both your general health and your risk of ED.
Why does belly fat cause ED?
To understand why belly fat causes ED, you need a grasp of the erection process. During arousal, nerve messages stimulate the penis, which then causes the brain to allow blood to flow into the penis. If excessive alcohol consumption is one reason you have a big belly, you're unwittingly lowering the amount of blood that can flow into the penis. The result is a half-chub or a short-lived erection.
Men with a beer belly may also be inadvertently damaging their endothelium, which is a thin membrane that lines the inside of blood vessels. When the endothelium is damaged, it doesn't release enough nitric oxide, which is a natural molecule produced by the body. Without enough nitric oxide, the blood vessels in your penis don't dilate enough to let in proper blood flow. Again, the result is a softer erection or none at all.
Men with more fat also produce less testosterone. Although declining testosterone levels are part of the natural aging process in men, excess belly fat can accelerate the process. With less testosterone coursing through your veins, you're far less often in the mood for sexual activity. Low-T may also prevent nitric oxide release, further contributing to your lack of ability to stand at full attention.
What you can do to get rid of belly fat
Not all men with excessive belly fat will suffer ED, but the longer you keep that extra weight, the more difficult it may be to lose, and you may suffer ED in the future. Thus, weight loss and a healthier lifestyle become imperative to maintaining your libido and sexual function. Trying the following changes may help:
Not everyone loves light beer. To a genuine connoisseur, light beer is like putting a four-cylinder engine in a Mustang—it just doesn't feel right. But think about it: If you love beer, many light beers and low-calorie options have less than half the calories of regular beers. If you can't put the longneck down, this is a better alternative.
If a poor diet is a contributor to your belly fat, you may tend to crave the greasiest, high-calorie food that only late-night delivery provides. To counteract the munchies, think ahead. Put together a menu of healthy snacks such as nuts or beef jerky. The idea is to offset your cravings with something that's conducive to weight loss.
Try switching to a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber and protein choices, such as vegetables, beans and healthy meats. Avoid add-ons such as gravy, mayonnaise and sauces, which typically have high amounts of calories, fat, sugar and sodium and try to find low-fat, low-sodium salad dressings. Also steer clear of processed meats and salty snacks.
Losing belly fat isn't as difficult as you might think
One of the biggest pitfalls that many men fall into while trying to lose a beer gut is expecting instant results. But as slowly as you put the weight on, it takes roughly the same amount of time to take it off. Understanding that you won't see immediate changes in weight or physical appearance is the first step toward success.
Walking for 30 minutes a day, taking the pizza place off speed dial and switching to low-calorie adult beverages can make all the difference—over time. Your partner will notice your newfound appearance, and the little man down below will thank you for letting him reach his full potential. That's a win-win for any man battling belly fat and erectile dysfunction.