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Most People are Getting Visceral Fat This Way, Experts Say

Four common ways to get visceral fat. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Visceral fat is a hidden health problem many people don't know about. It's fat located deep in your belly that wraps around your vital organs, causing severe health issues. Latonya Fore MSN, APRN-CNP and obesity and weight management specialist tells Eat This, Not That! Health, "Visceral fat can lead to heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle, high sugary beverages, stress, and alcohol can contribute to the accumulation of visceral fat. There are some things we can't change like our genetics, hormones or age. Maintaining a diet low in added sugar, regular physical activity, stress maintenance, and adequate sleep will prevent visceral fat." Even though you can't see or feel it, almost everyone has it. ETNT Health talked with experts who explain how most people get visceral fat and how to help avoid it. 

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1

​​Smoking Cigarettes

Business man in glasses and warm clothes smoking cigarette on the street
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Safa Kamran, a dietician with Max Healthy Living states, "Smoking cigarettes is another major risk factor for visceral fat. Cigarette smoke contains harmful chemicals that can damage your health, including your waistline."

2

Drinking Alcohol Regularly

woman drinking wine alcohol at home
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According to Kamran, "Drinking alcohol regularly is another major risk factor for visceral fat. The more you drink, the harder it will be to lose weight and keep it off. You should try to limit your alcohol intake as much as possible."

3

Not Being Active Enough

overweight woman at home lying on the floor, laptop in front of her, prepared to work out on mat according to video
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"Another common way to get visceral fat is by not being active enough," says Kamran. This means sitting or standing for long periods of time, not getting enough exercise, and using too much electronic media. If you want to prevent visceral fat, it's important to be active every day. Exercise doesn't have to be strenuous – even light activities like walking or biking can help. You should also try to stand up and move around every hour or so."

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4

Eating Refined Carbs

olive garden chicken shrimp carbonara
Courtesy of Olive Garden

Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and creator of the Candida Diet states, "Breakfast pastries, like donuts or muffins, should be avoided if you are trying to lose weight. There are two primary reasons that pastries will hinder your weight loss efforts. One, they are often made from refined carbohydrates and sugar which provide empty calories. They are also quite inflammatory and can hinder healthy digestion, both of which can cause stalled weight loss. Second, they are calorie dense foods that the body will process quickly and leave you hungry soon after. This means you've consumed a large amount of calories on a meal that didn't keep you full for long and now you need to eat again and consume more calories. If you'd consumed a nutrient dense breakfast with lean protein, healthy fat, and / or whole grains these nutrients would have kept you full for longer and resulted in fewer calories consumed."

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5

Other Common Ways to Get Visceral Fat

Overweight woman in tight clothes at home is trying to fit into tight jeans.
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Julia Walker, a registered nurse with Paloma Health explains, "Visceral fat is a type of fat that is inside the abdominal cavity and surrounds critical organs like the liver and digestive tract. It can also be found in the arteries. While some types of fat are good, visceral fat can be harmful to your health. There are numerous reasons why we put on visceral fat, and it is often a combination of lifestyle factors that causes this type of fat to accumulate in the body. Perhaps the most common cause of visceral fat is lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet. Visceral fat is stored when we have excess calories and do not burn them. Because this fat can surround major blood vessels in our body, it can leak free fatty acids into the bloodstream, which can increase your cholesterol levels. Of course, there are other causes of storing visceral fat, including smoking and even age."

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6

Preventing Visceral Fat

flat belly
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Walker says, "Getting daily exercise (such as strength training, walking, aerobics, and cycling) for at least 30 minutes is key for keeping visceral fat controlled. Also, eating a healthy diet of wholesome foods and reducing sugar intake is key to keeping your abdomen free from accumulating visceral fat. Because smoking is also correlated with increased visceral fat, smoking cessation is key, as is leading a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of sleep every day and stress reduction."   

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