Skip to content

Daily Habits Secretly Increasing Your Abdominal Fat

Four things to stop doing now that cause visceral fat. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Having excess abdominal fat is a bigger health problem than you may realize. While most people know about subcutaneous fat–the fat under your skin that you can see and pinch, many don't know about visceral fat, which is hidden deep within your belly and wraps around your vital organs. It can cause serious health issues like some cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes and more. Getting rid of visceral fat is important for your overall well-being and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Reda Elmardi, a Registered Dietician, Certified Nutritionist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Trainer and owner of who explained what causes visceral fat and daily habits that can increase belly fat. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Not Chewing Food Properly

woman eating bite of chocolate bar

Elmardi reminds us, "Chewing your food well helps break down the carbohydrates and protein into small pieces, making them easier to digest. If you are not able to chew your food properly, try using a straw or spoon to help you eat."


Eating Too Much at Once

dax shepard
Matt Sayles, Associated Press

Elmardi emphasizes, "Eating too many calories at once can lead to weight gain. This is especially true if you eat foods high in carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. When you eat these types of foods, your body breaks them down into sugar, which gets stored around your waistline as belly fat. If you are trying to lose weight, eating smaller meals throughout the day is better than having three large meals."


Not Drinking Enough Water

woman in bed feeling thirsty reaching for water

Elmardi states, "Drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins from your system. Your skin needs moisture, and your hair and nails need hydration, too! Staying well-hydrated also keeps your digestive tract functioning properly."


Not Getting Enough Sleep

Tired woman holding her head with her hands.

"Sleep deprivation causes stress hormones to rise in your body, which increases hunger levels," Elmardi reveals. "Lack of sleep also slows down your metabolic rate, making it harder to burn calories. Try going to bed earlier rather than later to avoid this problem."

RELATED: Signs Your Gut is "Unhealthy," Say Physicians


Why Abdominal Fat is so Unhealthy

belly fat

Elmardi shares, "Abdominal fat is not healthy at all. In fact, it can cause serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. So what exactly makes this type of fat bad? Well, it's basically the excess fat that accumulates around your stomach area. This kind of fat is known as visceral fat. Visceral fat is dangerous because it increases your risk of developing chronic diseases."

RELATED: Doing This After Age 60 is "Unhealthy," Say Physicians


How to Tell if You Have Too Much Visceral Fat

Doctor measuring waist of patients, checking for Body mass index (BMI).

"There are several ways to tell," says Elmardi. "You can measure your waist size using a tape measure. If you find yourself having trouble fitting into certain clothing sizes, then you may need to lose some weight. Another way to determine if you have too much abdominal fat is through your body mass index (BMI). A BMI between 25-and 29.9 is considered overweight, while a BMI above 30 is considered obese."


What Causes Visceral Fat?

woman eating pizza in bed
Shutterstock / Doucefleur

According to Elmardi, "There are two major factors that contribute to the accumulation of visceral fat: genetics and lifestyle. Genetics plays a huge role in how fast your body stores fat. Some people inherit their genes from their parents and therefore have a higher chance of accumulating visceral fat. However, genetics alone does not fully explain why some people accumulate more visceral fat than others. Lifestyle is also a factor. People who eat a lot of processed foods tend to store more visceral fat than those who consume healthier diets."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather