Melt Your Visceral Fat Fastest This Way, Say Experts
Visceral fat is a hidden health issue not talked about as much as it should be. While most people know about subcutaneous fat–the fat that you can see and pinch, many don't know about visceral fat, which is located deep in your abdomen. It wraps around your vital organs and can cause serious health issues like some cancers, stroke, type 2 diabetes and more. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Seema Bonney, the founder and medical director of the Anti-Aging & Longevity Center of Philadelphia who revealed three ways to lose visceral 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.
According to Dr. Bonney, "Diet is at least 80% of the equation when getting rid of visceral fat. Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables of every color. Some studies have shown that more calcium and vitamin D in your body is linked to lower amounts of visceral fat. Reduce or eliminate sources of sugar in your diet and simple carbs that turn into sugar. Avoiding processed foods will also help you lose and keep off visceral fat. Increase your intake of lean proteins and reduce intake of red meats. It's key to eat smart – while some foods help you reduce visceral fat, others help you gain it – so avoid foods with trans fats as well. At our longevity practice, our health coach helps patients read food labels to avoid ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup."
Dr. Bonney states, "Long-term lifestyle changes like making sure you exercise daily is key to losing visceral fat. And as far as the kinds of exercise you can do, specifically cardio is best when attacking visceral fat. In general, it's so important to keep moving. If your job is sedentary, get a standing desk and make sure to get some steps in every hour. If you can walk instead of driving close distances, opt for the walk. be sure to build some exercise into your daily regimen. Ideally you want to do 30 min of exercise daily, but studies have shown us that even 10 minutes of daily exercise enhances longevity!"
Get Good Quality Sleep
"Getting enough sleep is part of the plan to reduce visceral fat," says Dr. Bonney. "It's not only important for optimal physical and mental health as well as a healthy cardiovascular system. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology demonstrated that lack of sufficient sleep led to a 9% increase in total abdominal fat and an 11% increase in abdominal visceral fat. So beef up your sleep hygiene and track your sleep to see if this needs to be addressed with your functional medicine physician."
Why Visceral Fat is so Dangerous
Dr. Bonney says, "There are 2 kinds of fat in our bodies – there's the subcutaneous fat you can pinch and feel and there's visceral fat – deeper fat that wraps around our abdominal organs. You may not even know you have visceral fat because you can't feel it or see it. We have seen patients with flat tummies that still have visceral fat. Neither type of fat is optimal; however, the bigger problem with visceral fat is that it raises your risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, high cholesterol among other disease processes.Visceral fat is more sinister because it makes inflammatory proteins that damage blood vessels as well as tissues and organs inside the body."
Measuring Visceral Fat
Since you can't see or touch visceral fat, most people don't know it's there. Dr. Bonney shares how you can measure it. "Sometimes it's evident by your waistline and BMI. If you see your waist size going up, your pants being too snug in the belly area, this is evidence that you are gaining visceral fat. We have noted many men especially who have large bellies above their waist who over time get used to that fat, but it is a major red flag and needs to be addressed. Since our focus is optimizing health, we do a deeper dive into looking for visceral fat. We check waist sizes, BMIs, and do body composition scans on our patients that help tell us if they have visceral fat."
Causes of Visceral Fat
Dr. Bonney says, "Not getting enough exercise and physical inactivity leads to a significant increase in visceral fat. High amounts of exercise on the other hand, can lead to significant decreases in such fat, even in a short period of time. Eating foods high in trans fats which are found in dairy and meats as well as in processed and deep fried foods will raise visceral fat. Trans fats cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and lead to a higher body weight, even when the total dietary calories are controlled. Other foods to avoid are sodas, processed baked goods, and foods sweetened with fructose."