In the never-ending war against our potbellies, men are fighting a pretty powerful opponent—and it''s not that overwhelming desire to dish yourself seconds at every meal, nor the underwhelming urge to get off the couch and flatten that spare tire. In the battle of the bulge, your main adversary is nature itself.

"It goes back to ancient times, when food was harder to find. Back then, our bodies adapted by storing fuel—in the form of fat cells—in the body. In men, that storage area was around the midsection. When food was scarce, your body could draw on the reserve," explains Doug Lentz, Pennsylvania state director of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and owner of the Chambersburg Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center in Pennsylvania.

In modern times, most men have no problem rustling up a meal or three, but we still eat—and our bodies still store excess fat—like an Ice Age was just around the corner. Consequently, Lentz says we get thicker and thicker around the middle, especially as we get older and our metabolisms slow down.

And that''s nothing to belly-laugh about. Put simply, fat can kill you. When you eat fats, they can cause plaque to build up in the walls of your arteries, cutting off blood flow to your heart and leaving you with heart disease, the single biggest killer of men. Or, if you eat beyond what your body needs, your body will store that excess fuel in the fat cells around your middle. When that spare tire inflates, it puts more pressure on your heart, which can cause high blood pressure and also lead to heart disease.

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Anton Antipov

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