How to Decrease a Big Gut

January 22, 2014 Updated: January 20, 2014

“How did this happen?” you wonder when you look in the mirror. Your stomach used to be flat.

The conclusion is obvious. Like millions of other North Americans, you’ve developed a large gut. It’s called killer fat, and it increases by four times your risk of heart disease. But here are ways to reverse this dangerous problem.

Don’t Surround Yourself With Food

You can’t eat what’s not there, so get rid of the cookie jar, which contains 150 calories per cookie. By enjoying four, you’ve already used up 600 of your 1,800-calorie limit per day.

Get rid of cola drinks with 8 teaspoons of sugar, another 120 calories. Get smart—buy a calorie book, and stop living in the dark about how many calories foods contain.

Beware of Packaged Foods

Grocery shopping is not high on my list of priorities, but when I do shop with my wife, I’m always holding her up by looking at labels. Why? Because I continue to be shocked at the huge amount of calories present in packaged foods. Learn to read “calories per serving.”

Buy Low-Calorie Foods

Stop choosing pies, cakes, chocolate, shortbread, chips, and pretzels. Just two scoops of chocolate ice cream contain 500 calories. Switch to lower-calorie foods such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.

Start Moving

Stem cells can develop into bone, muscle, or fat cells. Researchers at the University of North Carolina placed rats on a vibrating platform 15 minutes daily to simulate muscle activity. The research showed that fewer stem cells became fat cells. Daily walking will help to shrink that big gut.

Eat Out Less Often

Studies show that eating out provides 32 percent more calories a day. That’s because North American proportions are obscenely large. Desserts alone can add 1,000 calories. And avoid the smorgasbord dinner where diners are encouraged to gorge.

Get Rid of Trans Fats

Some cities in the United States have banned them. But they’re still present in some restaurants, cookies, pastries, and cinnamon buns. A study of 16,000 males found that those who ate more trans fats increased their gut circumference over an eight-year period.

You Are No Longer 18

As we age, our metabolism slows down, and we burn fewer calories. The figures are shocking. Studies at Tufts University show that men 60 years of age need 1,000 fewer calories than those at age 20. The solution? You must decrease the number of calories consumed each day. Rocket science isn’t needed to decide what to toss out.

If all this fails, you have a problem. Killer fat produces a number of inflammatory cytokines, called adipokines, which cause inflammation of blood vessels with increased risk of heart disease. The degree of inflammation can be determined by a blood test called C-reactive protein.

Seriously consider joining an organization such as Weight Watchers that monitors your success or failure every week. Having someone look over your shoulder is helpful to many people.

Will you ever be able to see your shoes? It all depends on how much you want to see them.

Dr. Gifford-Jones is a medical journalist with a private medical practice in Toronto. His website is He may be contacted at