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Surprising Habits That Melt Your Visceral Fat

Four ways to get rid of visceral fat, according to experts. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Did you know you could be living with a deadly fat inside of you? Sounds scary and dramatic, but it's true. Visceral fat is hidden deep inside your belly and it wraps around your vital organs, which can cause major health issues. According to Harvard Health, "Visceral fat has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery." Eat This Not That! Health spoke with experts who explained ways to help get rid of 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.


Why Visceral Fat is Unhealthy

Doctor with glucometer and insulin pen device talking to male patient at medical office in hospital.

Dr. Jessica Folek, MD, director of bariatrics at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills (LIJ Forest Hills) in Queens, one of Northwell Health's 21 hospitals in New York says, "Visceral fat, the fat that is intra abdominal and surrounding your internal organs, as opposed to subcutaneous fat, which is the fat underneath your skin, has been shown to be strongly associated with some serious health problems. These include insulin resistance which can lead to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease (heart disease). Visceral fat demonstrates increased production of proinflammatory molecules called cytokines. These are thought to contribute to a low grade chronic inflammatory state thought to play an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes."


How to Tell If You Have Visceral Fat

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

Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and author of the Candida Diet explains, "The best approach to determining if you have visceral fat is to measure your waist. Waist circumference is a good indicator of the presence of visceral fat. For women, over 35 inches and for men, over 40 inches are good predictors of visceral fat." 


What Causes Visceral Fat?

A woman squeeze her tummy

Dr. Folek shares, "Numerous factors go into why the body stores fat in the viscera as opposed to the subcutaneous compartment. Essentially when there is an excess of lipid that can no longer be stored by the subcutaneous fat cells, this will then get shunted to storage in the visceral compartment. Age, sex, genetics, stress which increases cortisol production, are some of the factors that come into play which determine how the fat is stored. For example, men have on average, twice as much visceral fat compared to women. Visceral fat is known to increase with age in both men and women. In individuals who are overweight or suffer from obesity, having increased total body fat is associated with increased visceral fat. However there are individuals with normal weight, and high proportion of visceral fat which places them at increased risk for the cardio metabolic risk factor mentioned above. Dietary factors obviously also contribute and studies show intake of highly processed carbohydrates and fructose in particular is known to be associated with an increase in visceral fat as well."


Strength Training

woman sitting with dumbbell at gym

Dr. Sean Preuss, CXO at The Perfect Workout, "Strength training reverses the age-related loss of muscle and the slowing of metabolism. Resting metabolism actually increases for up to 72 hours following a strength training workout, which also fights against potential weight gain." 


Cut Out Soda

Sluggish Food Sugary Soda

Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD reveals, "Diet sodas are almost always made with artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners have been a controversial food product for years. The primary concerns have been whether their calorie reduction in our foods is worth the potential side effects. The known side effects range greatly from bloating to potentially being cancer promoting. Sucralose promotes gas and bloating because it causes gastrointestinal irritation. This artificial sweetener also reduces the amount of healthy gut bacteria. This side effect makes gastrointestinal discomfort and irritation more likely. Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to weight gain due to the overeating they lead to. Studies have shown that consumers of artificial sweeteners eat more calories in the following meal."


Count Calories

woman counting calories with diet app
Shutterstock / Africa Studio

"Decreasing calorie/energy intake," helps get rid of visceral fat, Dr. Folek states. "Studies show a 25% decrease in visceral fat stores with diet OR exercise."

Dr. Preuss adds, "When people lose weight, visceral fat is included. Therefore, the most effective ways to lose weight are usually effective ways to lose visceral fat. Dietary changes, specifically reducing overall caloric intake, is the most effective way to lose visceral fat (and fat in general). A reduction in calories stimulates lipolysis, where fat tissue in the body is broken down to create energy." 


Stop Eating Processed Carbs

pasta pizza carbs

"Decrease intake of highly processed carbohydrates, and especially fructose," also helps melt away visceral fat, Dr. Folek says. "Fructose has been purported to be an independent risk factor for causing inflammation resulting in cortisol secretion which causes more fat to shift from these subcutaneous fat cells into the circulation to be stored in the 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