The Right Diet for Your Body

Scale not budging? Your DNA may require a different diet.

by Joan Raymond
blonde woman eating couch picture
Photograph: Jacob Wackerhausen

As a woman reaches menopause, weight often shifts to her belly. Does that mean she falls into this so-called big-belly category?
Not necessarily. One of the best ways to determine if you are big bellied is to figure out your BBR, or butt-to-belly ratio. Here’s how: Measure your belly and buttocks at their widest points; for the butt, that’s the hips. Then divide your butt number by the size of your belly. So a woman with a 43-inch butt and a 36-inch belly would divide 43 by 36, yielding the number 1.19. A 1.1 or below is a big-belly type, who could do well on a low-carb diet. Someone who’s 1.1 to 1.25 would be fat all over and may do well with a Mediterranean approach. A ratio of 1.25 or over is a big-butt type, who may do best on a low-fat diet.

Wouldn’t it just be simpler to count calories and exercise more?
No. That equation—subtracting the number of calories burned from the calories taken in—is completely invalid. There’s a lot more going on in your body that affects your weight. For example, the microbes in your gut are critical; there are different types, and each type affects your appetite and metabolism differently, according to mouse studies done at Emory University. The composition of your specific microbe population can make it easier or harder for you to drop weight.

Do you believe that these findings can help control the current obesity epidemic?
Well, humans have been evolving for thousands of years. We used to have to hunt our food or go to a marketplace and trade for it. We have not had that long to adjust to the food supply we have now. It’s been only 80 or so years that we have had fast-food restaurants and grocery stores stocked with everything. Plus, we have genes for preserving calories, which protect us from famine. For the first time, we have to use what we know in order to choose what to eat rather than just eat what’s available. It’s going to be tricky. We’ll see how we do.

Originally published in the November 2010 issue of More.


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