There are several types of fat in your body, and while it’s healthy to have some body fat, visceral fat or “belly fat” can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. Visceral fat can build up quickly, but the good news is that a mix of lifestyle habits, food and exercise can help reduce the visceral fat in your body. Check out our best tips for how to get rid of visceral fat and why it’s important to do so.
What is ‘Visceral Fat’?
Visceral fat is harmful belly fat that lies deep within the abdominal cavity, padding the space between our abdominal organs including the liver, stomach and intestines. Since it’s stored deep inside the belly, it’s also known as hidden fat, while most fat is stored underneath the skin and known as subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is harder to see than subcutaneous fat and can build up in the arteries, increasing the risk of serious health problems. Visceral fat produces chemicals and hormones that can be toxic to the bod. About 10 percent of all body fat is visceral fat.
Fat gets stored when you consume too many calories and don’t do enough physical activity. Getting older can change where the body stores fat, and for women, especially after menopause, muscle mass decreases while fat increases. As women age, they are more likely to develop more visceral fat in the belly even if they don’t gain weight. If you’re a woman and your waist is 35 inches or larger, you’re at risk for health problems from visceral fat.
What Are the Risk Factors of Visceral Fat?
Fat cells produce hormones and inflammatory substances, and visceral fat cells are especially active and produce even more inflammatory markers. Overtime, these hormones can lead to long-lasting inflammation and increase the risk of chronic disease. Health risks of visceral fat include:
- Increased insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes
- Raised blood pressure
- Heart attack and heart disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
How to Get Rid of Visceral Fat: 8 Tips
1. Eat More Protein
Protein is an essential nutrient for fat loss. Eating more protein increases the levels of fullness hormones and reduces levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Protein is also known to boost your metabolism, which can help you lose weight and visceral fat. Protein-rich foods include eggs, lean meats, fish, dairy, legumes, nuts and tofu. Try to add at least one protein source at each meal.
2. Do Aerobic Exercise Regularly
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio or endurance exercise burns a lot of calories and is a great way to shed visceral fat. Aerobic exercise can help you lose visceral fat even without dieting, although combining it with a healthy diet is the most effective way to target visceral fat and maintain optimal health all around.
3. Add Strength Training to Your Workout Routine
Strength training can help reduce body weight as it focuses on building muscle mass, and muscle burns more calories than fat does. Exercising using weights and spot training, such as abdominal exercises like sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles. Try incorporating two to three days a week of strength training into your workout routine to reap maximum benefits.
4. Eat More Soluble Fibre-Rich Foods
There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre mixes with water to form a gel-like substance, which helps slow down digestion. When soluble fibre reaches the colon, it’s fermented by gut bacteria into short-chain fatty acids, which are a major source of nutrition for colon cells. They also may help reduce visceral fat by suppressing your appetite. Try eating more soluble fibre-rich foods such as sweet potatoes, legumes, grains, and flaxseeds. You can also try taking a soluble fibre supplement if you feel like you can’t get enough through your diet.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is sometimes underestimated, but it is essential for your overall health and wellbeing. It’s the time your body rests, recuperates and recovers and helps reduce stress, boost your immunity and maintain a healthy weight. A lack of sleep may increase your risk of visceral fat gain. Try to get 7 to 8 hours of proper sleep per night to help reduce visceral fat. Turn off screens a few hours before bed, read a book and take a magnesium supplement to help you relax pre-bed time.
6. Eliminate or Limit Refined Sugar
Refined sugar is one of the unhealthiest things out there. It provides zero vitamins or minerals and eating too much of it can lead to weight gain. A high sugar intake can increase visceral fat by promoting insulin resistance and stimulating inflammation throughout the body.
Added sugar contains around 50% fructose, a simple sugar that’s metabolized by the liver. In large amounts, fructose gets turned into fat by the liver, which increases visceral fat storage. Reduce your added and refined sugar intake by eating more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish.
7. Boost Your Overall Daily Activity
Increasing your activity levels throughout the day can help you burn calories as well as visceral fat. Make a point to do things such as takING the stairs instead of the elevator, walking or cycling instead of driving or taking transit, using a standing desk and taking a walk at lunch time, especially if you’re sitting all day. These simple daily activities can also strengthen your muscles and enhance your mood.
8. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking too much alcohol is one of the worst things you can do for your waistline, since alcohol can encourage fat to be stored as visceral fat. There are ingredients in alcohol called congeners, which make your body store fat around your organs, speeding up the process of gaining belly fat. Limit your alcohol intake to small amounts as much as possible.
Your diet and level of physical activity contribute to your level of visceral fat. Use our tips to get rid of visceral fat and lead a healthier lifestyle.
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