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I'm a Doctor and Here are Signs You Have Visceral Fat

Experts explain how to know if you have visceral fat and how to get rid of it. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Not all fat is created equal. Most people know that subcutaneous fat is the jiggly fat that you can see and pinch, but visceral fat is buried deep in your belly and it wraps around your organs causing major health problems like some cancers, stroke, type 2 diabetes and more. Eat This, Not That! Health talked with experts who explain how to tell if you have visceral fat, what causes it and how to get rid of it. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


How to Tell if You Have Visceral Fat

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

Dr. Sylvia Gonsahn-Bollie, M.D. Embrace YOU Weight & Wellness, C.E.O. & Lead Physician says, "Determining healthy weight includes looking at body composition, specifically body fat percentage and where the fat is located. A healthy range of body fat is 18-32% for  women, 17-25%  for men. Like real estate, location is important when it comes to body fat. Visceral fat, or fat located around your vital organs is considered most harmful for your health. You can use your waist circumference as a measure of this. Specifically, a healthy waist circumference is less than 35 inches for women or less than 40 inches for men."


Why Visceral Fat is Dangerous

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Dr. Steve Hruby, a Doctor of Chiropractic and founder at Kaizen Progressive Health explains, "Visceral fat is dangerous because it is related to protein and hormones. It often results in inflammation which further damages the body's organs. In fact, it can enter the liver and affect how the body breaks down food and stores energy. It can also lead to increased blood pressure, and other health conditions like heart disease and diabetes."


A Lack of Physical Activity

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Several factors cause visceral fat including a sedentary lifestyle. Dr. Hruby states, "When you don't get enough exercise, your body stores the extra energy as fat, including visceral fat."


​​Eating a Poor Diet

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Another cause of visceral fat is not eating healthy. "Trans fat like margarine, for example, can cause your body to store more visceral fat," Dr. Hruby explains. "You should also avoid foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, as they can cause weight gain and increase your risk for developing visceral fat. These foods include refined grains, sugary drinks, and processed foods. They tend to be low in fiber and high in calories."


Avoid Processed Foods

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Getting rid of visceral fat is possible and eating a better diet helps reduce the fat. Dr. Hruby says, "When you eat a healthy diet, you're less likely to gain visceral fat. A healthy diet includes plenty of fruits, leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish. Make sure to avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and other unhealthy foods."

RELATED: Never Do This to Lose Visceral Fat, Say Experts


Get Active

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Shutterstock / Rido

"Eating a healthy diet won't do much benefit if you don't get active," Dr. Hruby reminds us. "Physical activity helps burn calories, and when you combine it with a healthy diet, you're more likely to lose visceral fat. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week."

RELATED: Here's How to Stop Aging, Say Experts


Get Enough Sleep

woman sleeping with her dog

According to Dr. Hruby, "Not getting enough sleep can cause you to gain weight, including visceral fat. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. When you eat healthy, have an active lifestyle, and get enough sleep, you're less likely to have excess visceral fat."

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Diabetes


Why is Visceral Fat Not Talked About More?

Nutritionist inspecting a woman's waist using a measuring tape to prescribe a weight loss diet

Dr. Hruby explains, "There's a lot of confusion about visceral fat. Many people think that it's the same as general body fat, but this isn't the case. Visceral fat is a specific type of body fat that's closely linked to producing certain chemicals and hormones that can damage the body. But people often make mistakes when trying to lose it, because they don't understand the unique challenges involved. That's why it's important to talk to a doctor or other health professional before trying to lose visceral fat."

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
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