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Sure Signs You Have Too Much Visceral Fat

How do you know that you have too much visceral fat?
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Visceral fat—also known as belly fat—shows up and hangs around the abdomen. It's not just a superficial issue. Not only does excess visceral fat make your clothes more difficult to fit into, it can also shorten your life. How do you know that you have too much visceral fat? Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What is Abdominal Fat?

Body fat analysis with electronic bioelectrical impedance scale at weight loss clinic.

There are two types of body fat. Subcutaneous fat lies under the skin; it's the kind you can pinch.  Visceral fat lies deeper, under the abdominal muscles. Visceral fat cells secrete hormones, much like other organs like the thyroid and pancreas. Hormones secreted from visceral fat have far-reaching, negative effects on the body. 


Why Abdominal Fat Is Dangerous

Man and woman holding their bellies while sitting on the bed suffering from extra weight.

Visceral fat is a major contributor to several serious health problems. The hormones secreted by visceral fat are believed to cause inflammation throughout the body. People with too much visceral fat have a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, and dementia, among other conditions. 


The #1 Sign You Have Abdominal Fat

measuring belly fat

Experts say you're at increased risk of health problems from visceral fat if your waist measures more than 35 inches if you're a woman, and more than 40 inches if you're a man. The easiest way to gauge your level of abdominal fat is to use a measuring tape to measure your waist circumference at the belly button. 


How to Get Rid of Abdominal Fat

person walking on a stone bridge

Experts say that 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise can effectively burn visceral fat. (A nd more is better: Studies have found that increasing your exercise to 60 minutes a day can burn up to 30% of your belly fat over three months.) Resistance exercise is also key. A 2021 review of studies found that resistance training effectively reduces visceral fat in healthy adults. 


Avoid These Foods

Man eating pizza having a takeaway at home relaxing resting

Experts say that simple carbs and liquid calories are major contributors to visceral fat. Sodas, juices, nut milks, energy drinks—anything which is sugar-sweetened can pack on fat around your middle. So can simple carbs, like those found in highly processed foods and refined grains. Swap refined grains and processed foods for a diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins.


And Get Enough Sleep


Studies have found that people who sleep five hours or less a night accumulate significantly more visceral fat, and young people who sleep more than eight hours nightly also have more visceral fat. Experts advise getting seven to nine hours for better health overall. 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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael