The Muffin Man

Let’s set the scene: You’re invited to an event and now it’s time to get dressed. You open up the closet and reach for a pair of pants you haven’t had to wear since last year. You slide one leg in and then the other, so far so good. Up over the rump and then…hmm, a little tighter than you remember. You suck the gut in and viola, buttoned. You take a look in the mirror and…wait, what’s this hanging over the belt?  

Well, that guys is your muffin top. I’m sure you are all familiar with the term muffin top by now, that term that describes the fat that hangs or balloons over the waistband of your too tight pants or shorts. A term so perfect in description I only wish I came up with it myself.  Good thing untucked shirts are in right, we’re guys if we don’t see it we can ignore it. Well you can until you can’t. At some point in time even an untucked shirt isn’t going to hide it as it grows and do you really want to be the only guy at the pool party that doesn’t take his shirt off? 

I will say there are dudes that don’t care. These dudes even wear the muffin top like a badge of honor to their well… dudeness. Dudes don’t worry about how they look. Come on we all know at least one or two of these dudes, you may even be one yourself. And to you I say cheers! You are comfortable with your sense of masculinity. For the rest of us though we don’t really want to see that so much, not on you and certainly not on us.

What’s In A Muffin?

Shirtless over weight man - muffin top.

The simple answer is fat. Yup, that inch or two are telling you that you are fat or at least to be fair, fatter. The problem with muffin tops is that they also tend to get bigger. You probably wouldn’t know what a muffin top is in high school and maybe barely saw a sign in college, but at some point in time it happens to all of us. The cold realization of our fat protruding over our waistband is as inevitable as the sun rising. In fact, it is because of the sun’s rising that we dress in the first place to this horror day after day. How’s that for shifting fault? If there was no sun we probably wouldn’t need to dress. Better yet, it would be so dark who would see us.

Say No To The Muffin

So, we know muffin tops come in all sizes and we also know that the best way to get rid of the muffin is to catch it early.  We also know that a small muffin top may not be more than an aesthetic problem; however, a large one may lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. Okay, so is this where we get all serious talking about diet and exercise? Not exactly. Let’s keep it simple and light here, I already cover diet journals, sugar addiction, fats, carbohydrates, micro burst training and exercise tips in other blog posts. Let’s assume you are already getting some exercise. Maybe you play basketball with friends once or twice a week, you do a least a couple of sessions a week at the gym or you are generally just a physically active person. Let’s also say you don’t have a terrible diet. So, what are you missing that might be holding you back and the muffin holding on?  

Stop Feeding the Muffin

Yes, feeding the muffin could mean extra unnecessary calories, and from time to time we all do this, but there are other things we do that can also lead to muffin top growth. So, let’s start with the obvious first.

1)      Ignorance of diet - I don’t necessarily mean you don’t know what to eat, but rather busy lifestyles that keep us from thinking about what to eat and essentially causing us to gut fill. Eating whatever is handy, easy or cheap so we can no longer be hungry and get back to what we need or want to really be doing. This leads to bad nutrition and excess calories which stack on the pounds.

2)      Alcohol use – I’m not suggesting no alcohol, just less. One beer or glass of wine a night isn’t likely to be a problem, but multiple drinks especially every day can add weight in 2 ways.  Alcohol is a complete carbohydrate so your body tries to burn it off first, therefore, if you ate something particularly high in calories those calories are more likely to be stored as fat around the middle. Second alcohol tends to increase appetite.

Man smoking

3)      Marijuana – LH and FSH are two gonadotropin hormones known to be blocked or at least lowered by marijuana use resulting in lower levels of testosterone. Among other side effects of low T is it causes an imbalance with estrogen leading to weight gain. A more severe version of this causes estrogen dominance with the tell tail symptom of moobs or man boobs.  Another side effect from marijuana use is an increased cortisol level (the stress hormone) which tends to increase abdominal fat deposits. Addition abdominal fat means yet more estrogen production. And let’s not forget the munchies. Occasional recreational use is one thing, but in my 25 years of training experience I have found it is extremely difficult to lose fat with habitual marijuana use in men or women.

4)      Stress – Being on edge, worrying, feeling overwhelmed is unhealthy for all sorts of reasons like elevating blood pressure, but it also increases the manufacture and release of cortisol in the body. Yup more belly fat.

5)      Inadequate sleep – Not getting your ZZZ’s causes your body to burn less fat partly by lowering growth hormone release, increases insulin resistance (can lead to diabetes), impairs immunity and causes increased inflammation. Sleep is good.

So, if your clothes don’t fit quite like they used to it may not just be a missed workout session or two. Knowledge is power, and now you have the 411. It’s up to you if a change in lifestyle is in order. My suggestion, start with the easy stuff first.

References: – Endocrine effects of marijuana in the male  - Three hormones that block your weight loss

Universityhealthnews – 8 Surprising high estrogen symptoms in men - Estrogen