Proven Ways to Melt Visceral Fat, Say Experts
Visceral fat—or belly fat—is body fat stored in the abdominal area, surrounding your intestines, liver, pancreas, and more. Visceral fat has been linked to a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke, which is why it's considered far more dangerous to your health than subcutaneous fat. Fat around the abdomen and waist is one of the worst places to carry weight, but deep belly fat can be reversed with just five lifestyle changes. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs COVID is Hurting You—Even After a Negative Test.
"Add aerobic exercise to your routine," says Julie Chen, MD, a board-certified physician in internal medicine and obesity medicine. "You may think that abdominal crunches are the best way to lose unhealthy belly fat, but the best approach is really to burn calories through aerobic exercise that raises your heart rate. To really lose weight, aim for 300 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. Low-intensity activities, such as walking, biking, swimming or jogging, can lead to great results."
A Healthy Diet
"Eat a well-balanced diet," says Trinh Le, MPH, RD. "Eat a diet high in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein with calories set for gradual weight loss (e.g. about 1-2 pounds per week). Cut way back on added sugars and alcohol since these nutrients will more likely end up as visceral fat."
"If your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like poking sticks in your bicycle wheels," says Plamen Penev, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "Cutting back on sleep, a behavior that is ubiquitous in modern society, appears to compromise efforts to lose fat through dieting. In our study it reduced fat loss by 55 percent."
"Because aging is associated with sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, relying on body weight alone is insufficient for the study of healthy aging," says Rania Mekary, a researcher in HSPH's Department of Nutrition and assistant professor of social and administrative sciences at the School of Pharmacy of MCPHS University. "Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults. Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass."
"Reduce your stress. When we're stressed, our adrenal glands produce cortisol, a stress hormone," says Dr. Chen. "Cortisol stimulates our fight or flight response, which in turn stimulates our appetite to fuel our bodies to combat the stress. This leads to higher insulin levels in our bodies and a craving for sugary, fatty foods." And to live your healthiest life, don't miss this life-saving advice I'm a Doctor and Here's the #1 Sign You Have Cancer.
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