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I'm a Doctor and Here's How to "Shrink" Visceral Fat

How to get rid of visceral fat and why it's so dangerous. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Visceral fat is hidden deep within your abdomen and wraps around your vital organs causing significant health problems like some cancers, stroke, type 2 diabetes and more. Since you can't see it, feel it or touch it, most people don't know they have it and it's not talked about enough. "A reason visceral fat is not talked about more is that most people are focused on the aesthetics of looking and feeling good. A person could have a fair amount of "unseen" visceral fat and still look healthy. However, it is essential to know about this kind of fat because of how much pressure it can put on the organs," Kristin Carlino as a Registered Dietitian for Jersey City Medical Center tells Eat This, Not That! Health. One way to tell if you have visceral fat is to measure your waist. Carlino says, "For men, a waist circumference over 40 inches or over 35 inches if you're a woman is a cause for concern. If visceral fat is a concern for you, it's essential to ask your primary care doctor about it when you schedule physical exams and blood work." Read below to see the expert's tips for getting rid of visceral fat and what causes it and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Limit Alcohol Consumption

Relaxing with a glass of wine

Dr. Anthony Puopolo, the Chief Medical Officer of the telemedicine company Rex MD explains, "In most cases, the human body ends up converting alcohols into sugars, and later storing them as fats. While harder alcohols contribute less to weight gain, beer–which is made from fermented grain, hops–is incredibly high in carbohydrates and can contribute to weight gain when ingested at a high frequency. While alcohol consumption is not necessarily bad for visceral fat gain, frequent alcohol consumption will contribute to visceral fat, and should be limited significantly in a fat loss plan."


Have Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Senior couple cooking healthy food and drinking red wine at house kitchen.

Dr. Jae Pak, M.D., of Jae Pak Medical says, "The way to reduce visceral fat is to make the right lifestyle choices. Stop drinking alcohol, consume more water, watch what you eat, get plenty of sleep and exercise more. All of these things can help promote weight loss and decreased abdominal fat (which is a good indicator for how much visceral fat you have on your organs)."


Do Strength Training

woman tying sneakers at gym

Allison Sizemore, a Certified Sports Nutritionist and Online Fitness Coach says, "Incorporate strength training into your routine.  Strength training will increase metabolically active muscle tissue, which can help you burn more calories all day long." 

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Don't Spike Your Insulin with a Poor Diet

woman choosing healthy apple instead of junk dessert as a food swap to cut calories

Sizemore suggests, "Avoid eating carbs alone or any carbs that may spike your insulin.  Try to ensure all snacks and meals are a combination of protein, fats, and carbs and are mostly whole, unprocessed foods, such as meats, fruits, and vegetables."

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Bad Diet and Lack of Exercise Cause Visceral Fat

Man eating pizza having a takeaway at home relaxing resting

Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, aka "The VibrantDoc," a recognized leader in functional medicine and author of the new self-care book Vibrant: A Groundbreaking Program to Get Energized, Reverse Aging, and Glow, explains, "It's pretty simple—overeating and under-exercising cause the body to store fat rather than burn it, and with age, this fat is more likely to be visceral fat, although anyone of any age can develop too much visceral fat if they consistently overeat and under-exercise. A high-sugar diet, even in people who are not overweight, has also been shown to contribute to excess visceral fat accumulation."

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Chronic Stress

woman puts hands on head, stressed, busy at work

Dr. Stephenson states, "You are also more likely to store fat as visceral fat if you have a lot of chronic stress because the stress hormone cortisol promotes the development of visceral fat. One study showed an association between higher amounts of visceral fat in slender women with more cortisol and also with more negative moods and more life stress."

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