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How to Lose Internal Belly Fat, Say Experts

Three ways to get rid of visceral fat and what causes it. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Most people know about subcutaneous fat—the fat that you can see and pinch. But there's another fat many don't know about called visceral fat that's hidden deep in your belly. It wraps around your organs and causes severe health issues like type 2 diabetes, stroke, some cancers, high cholesterol and more. While it's a concerning health problem, you can get rid of visceral fat. To know if you have visceral fat, measure your waist and for women, your risk of chronic disease is increased if the waist circumference is 80 cm or more and for men 94cm or more. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share how to reduce internal belly fat and what causes it. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Reduce Stress

Woman stressed

Kyle Risley, a health expert and CEO of Lift Vault shares, "As people get older, they usually find it's harder to keep off stubborn belly fat. While it's difficult to spot-reduce and target only belly fat, there are healthy habits that individuals can adopt to trim up and improve their physique overall. Stress causes a spike in cortisol levels which causes the body to hold on to stubborn fat, even when you're in a calorie deficit. Cortisol can also force your body to retain water, making you look puffy and bloated. One of the number one indications of stress-related weight gain is that it tends to accumulate around the stomach area. Reducing stress can help you lose this additional fat, helping you look better and feel better."


Drink Less Alcohol

woman refusing glass of alcohol

Risley says, "The name 'beer belly' comes from the fact that extra calories from alcohol often result in fat gain around the middle. Extra calories accumulate evenly around the body, however drinking alcohol causes stress to your body, resulting in elevated cortisol levels, which again, contributes to belly fat."

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Move More

middle-aged woman jogging in winter in a close up low angle view against a sunny blue sky in a healthy active lifestyle

According to Risley, "This doesn't mean doing crunches until your abs give out- because again, you can't target and spot reduce fat. However, being more active overall can help you burn extra calories necessary for fat loss. This can be any type of activity, from HIIT workouts, to walks with the dog. You may consider adding strength workouts to your routine, because building muscle will burn more calories over time at rest, which can help you lose belly fat and keep it off." 

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Poor Eating Habits and Not Working Out Causes 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 states, "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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Other Causes of Visceral Fat

girl in casual clothes smoking an electronic cigarette

Dr. Jorge Luis Green, the board-certified bariatric and general surgeon for Renew Bariatrics explains, "Visceral fat is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some people are more likely to store visceral fat than others. Factors that can increase your risk for visceral fat include a high-calorie diet, a lack of exercise, and stress. In addition, your lifestyle may play a role. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of visceral fat." 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.

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