Skip to content

Here's How to Avoid Visceral Fat

The most dangerous type of fat.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Maintaining a healthy weight is difficult, but it is not the only factor for good health. Also, not all weight loss is considered equal when it comes to health benefits. When you're overweight, your body stores fat in all different places. But do you know some of these forms of fat are more dangerous than other forms? Visceral fat accumulates in your body through bad lifestyle habits and compromised health. This kind of fat is most dangerous because it's not just around the midsection and hips; it also seeps into your internal organs, turning into a life sentence of heart problems and diabetes. Hence, your lifestyle factors and exercise regime should not only avoid total weight gain but should specifically help you to avoid 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've Already Had COVID.


What is Visceral Fat?

Female doctor measuring waist of overweight woman with measuring tape in clinic.

Generally, fat in our bodies is stored underneath our skin. There's also some inside our bellies, wrapped around and between our organs. This internal fat is called "visceral" or "belly" fat, and some of it is considered to be a dangerous health hazard.

Some facts about visceral fat are;

  • The waist-to-height ratio is a better indicator of visceral fat than the BMI
  • Visceral fat is linked to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Visceral fat is usually preventable through lifestyle changes


Why You Should Avoid Visceral Fat

Young diabetic woman checking her blood sugar levels.

It is essential to understand that visceral fat is not the same as subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is the fat found in the abdominal cavity.

Abdominal fat can be further divided into superficial and deep layers. The superficial layer comprises subcutaneous fat, and the deep layer constitutes visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is found underneath your skin, while visceral fat sits on top of your abdominal muscles surrounding your internal organs.

Visceral fats are more metabolically active than subcutaneous fats, and they also contain more inflammatory cells and vascular and innervated cells, which produce hormones like leptin and adiponectin.

Subcutaneous fats are closer to the skin surface, have a richer blood supply, are less dense, and are easier to lose through exercise or diet. Visceral fats, on the other hand, sit deeper inside your abdomen, often surrounding vital organs such as the stomach, liver, intestines, etc. They are harder to lose despite exercise or dieting.

Avoiding visceral fat accumulation can reduce the risk of various health complications such as stroke, cardiac conditions, and type 2 diabetes.

It is believed that visceral fat responds to certain lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Let's discuss the top 4 factors to improve your healthy weight and avoid visceral fat.


Physical Activity

woman jogging along a trail

Exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding visceral fat. Studies indicate that high-intensity interval training can help you lose visceral fat, especially when combined with traditional strength training.

Aerobic and resistance training also prevent the regain of potentially harmful visceral fat. Adding strength training to your exercise regime helps you build lean muscles, which let you burn calories even during rest.

Experts recommend following a 30 to 60 minutes moderate-intensity exercise to avoid visceral fat. According to a research study, people who practiced aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, light jogging, or usage of a stationary bicycle experienced a successful visceral fat reduction.

RELATED: Things That Put You at Risk for "Too High" Blood Sugar, Says Physician


Nutrition and Diet


Following a healthy diet can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Don't eat a lot of foods packed with added sugars and simple carbs, especially when you want to avoid belly fat.

Here are a few tips that can help you become a healthy eater:

  • Read food labels carefully; sugar is often disguised under different names
  • Eat whole foods and avoid processed ones
  • Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Drink more water and avoid packed juices
  • Limit your alcohol intake

A study looked at seven micronutrients generally present in all vegetables and how these nutrients might help avoid visceral fat. The only micronutrient positively associated with increased accumulation of visceral fat was monounsaturated fat. A higher intake of monounsaturated fat—found in olive oil and certain nuts can increase the risk of visceral fat accumulation.

RELATED: Daily Habits You Must Follow If High Cholesterol Runs In Your Family


Stress Management

stressed out woman

When your stress levels are high, it becomes hard for your mind and body to respond to signals that tell you to eat less or move more. These signals are transported through hormones.

When you are chronically stressed, your bodies are flooded with more of a hormone called neuropeptide Y (NPY), which is involved in regulating metabolism and eating behavior. In addition, stress can activate an adverse reaction in your body characterized by build-up of visceral fat tissue around the abdomen, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress.

Stress eating is a common phenomenon that has often gone unnoticed in the field of health and is believed to result in metabolic syndrome. Hence, you should focus on reducing your stress levels and being more aware of your eating habits. It's also a good idea to lower stress levels by engaging in stress relief activities such as breathing exercises or yoga.


Sleep Pattern

woman sleeping

A research study indicates that adults who sleep for fewer hours or more hours each day gain more fat around their organs, called visceral fat, than those who get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. In addition, in people whose daily sleep time increased from less than 6 hours to 7 or 8 hours gained less visceral fat over time.

In simple words, your sleep habits play a significant role in how much visceral fat you gain over time. Too much or too less sleep is hazardous to your health. Improve your sleep pattern and get adequate sleep to avoid gaining visceral fat.


Benefits of Reduced Visceral Fat

A female doctor is taking the blood pressure from a very worried African American female patient.

Too much body fat around your stomach could increase your risk of a number of serious health problems. Researchers have discovered that visceral fat can trigger low-level inflammation and produce proteins that cause blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to rise. It is further associated with complications of hypertension and heart disease, especially in people with mild-to-moderate blood pressure issues.

Also, having too much visceral fat has been linked to shorter lifespans and poorer health. Studies have also shown that losing weight by reducing waist size is more effective than reducing weight overall.

Over time, the chronic inflammation caused by visceral fat can increase the risk of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even dementia. But there's good news: visceral fat is most responsive to lifestyle interventions. You can lose a significant amount of weight around your middle section by eating better and exercising.


Last Word From the Doctor

woman consulting with female doctor

If you want to improve your health by losing weight, you should aim to reduce the amount of visceral fat in your body. Because visceral fat is directly associated with various health complications. You can avoid storing large amounts of visceral fat by following a healthy and active lifestyle. By focusing on avoiding visceral fat, you remove the most serious health risk caused by being overweight. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a writer who helps her readers live healthier and happier lives. 

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi
Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a writer who helps her readers live healthier and happier lives. Read more about Dr. Rashmi