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This Daily Habit May Lead to Visceral Fat

Read on to avoid to kick this bad habit and improve health.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Visceral fat, or belly fat, lies hidden deep within the abdomen. But gain too much visceral fat and it can make its presence known via some very dangerous health problems. To keep yourself at your healthiest, you'll want to avoid this daily habit that may lead to visceral fat. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


What Is Visceral Fat?

Woman touches her stomach.

Unlike subcutaneous fat—the jiggly fat under the skin that you can grab or pinch—visceral fat surrounds organs deep within the abdomen, like the stomach, liver and intestines. According to the Cleveland Clinic, excess visceral fat raises your risk of serious disorders including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. In women, visceral fat is also associated with breast cancer. 

The more visceral fat you have, the higher your chance of developing these issues.


Who's At Highest Risk

belly fat

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, you may be more likely to experience health problems from visceral fat if your waist is more than 35 inches if you're a woman, or more than 40 inches if you're a man. 

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Why Does Visceral Fat Raise Health Risks?

Overweight woman in tight clothes at home is trying to fit into tight jeans.

"Research suggests that fat cells — particularly abdominal fat cells — are biologically active," says Harvard Medical School. "It's appropriate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health."

Visceral fat may increase the production of inflammatory substances in the body that raise the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Its proximity to the liver and pancreas could also increase "bad" cholesterol, prevent the body from breaking down fat, and contribute to insulin resistance.

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This Daily Habit May Lead to Visceral Fat

Beautiful dark skinned businesswoman with casual hairstyle working on her laptop, looking at screen with concentrated face and touching chin with hand

Eating a poor diet—particularly one that's high in added sugar and simple carbohydrates, which the body quickly convert to sugar—and not getting enough exercise can lead to weight gain, particularly stubborn visceral fat. 

"​​Fructose, or sugar, causes fat cells to mature faster, specifically in the visceral fat," says the Cleveland Clinic. "A diet filled with fructose-containing sodas or drinks not only increases your calorie intake, but it impacts how the belly fat develops." 

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How Do I Get Rid of Visceral Fat?

Woman measuring waist with tape standing in front of mirror.

The easiest way to reduce visceral fat is to lose weight. Experts say weight loss alone can effectively reduce visceral fat; by losing 10% of your body weight, you may lose up to 30% of your belly fat. Ditch sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas and processed foods. Eat more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. 

Experts also say exercise is crucial to slashing belly fat. Moderate physical activity combined with strength training seems to be most effective.

And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more
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