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Too Much "Fat Inside Your Belly"? Here's How to Lose It, Physician Says

Four ways to burn visceral fat.

Visceral fat is a hidden health issue that many people don't know about. We all know that excess weight is unhealthy, but visceral fat is especially dangerous because it's located deep in your belly and wraps around your vital organs. You can't see it or feel it, but it's there and can lead to serious health issues like stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and more. While visceral fat is a major health concern, with a few positive lifestyle changes you can melt it away and experts we spoke to reveal how. 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

belly fat, tape measure

Dr. Mahmud Kara, MD Internal Medicine says, "Not all fat is created equal. Fat cells in the body can be stored in three ways: essential, subcutaneous, and visceral.  Essential fat is as it sounds, it is "essential" for your health. This type of fat is usually found in areas that protect the body like membranes, nerves, bone marrow, and our brain. Subcutaneous fat is found under the skin. This is the fat that most people are familiar with because you can pinch it in areas like your buttocks, arms, and thighs. Visceral fat is often overlooked, but it is the type of fat that poses the most risk to our health. Visceral fat is found in the belly and around our major organs—kidney, heart, liver, pancreas, digestive tract, etc. Too much visceral fat is unhealthy because of its location in relation to key organs." 


How to Tell if You Have Visceral Fat

visceral fat

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?

woman eating pizza in bed
Shutterstock / Doucefleur

"A lack of exercise and a high calorie diet is the biggest contributor of visceral fat," Richards states. "Over time this lifestyle leads to weight gain beyond subcutaneous fat and into visceral fat stores. As we age hormones and genetics begin to play a larger role in the development of visceral fat, which is why keeping it at bay earlier in life is important."


Cut Down Refined Carbs

bread basket

Dr. Kara shares, "Visceral fat is not difficult to lose, and there are a variety of lifestyle changes that you can make to target this type of fat.  The first is in the food you eat. Studies have suggested that a diet low in refined carbohydrates can be effective for reducing visceral fat. This might seem contrary to what people think, as many would assume that a low-fat diet is the way to get rid of fat.  When in reality, a diet low in refined carbohydrates can put your body into a state of "ketosis" and can be an effective way to regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels. By doing this, your body is able to focus more on performing its metabolic processes, one of which is the breakdown of fat for energy." 


Avoid Certain Foods

drinking soda or teas

"When we look at diet, it is also important to look at what we should be avoiding," Dr. Kara explains. "High-sugar, refined foods, and trans-fat as well as alcohol can contribute to increased inflammation in the body as well as difficulty with losing weight and fat in general. Therefore, in order to lose visceral fat it is helpful to avoid these foods." 


Do Aerobic Exercise

woman jogging

Dr. Kara says, "Aerobic exercises include jogging, running, walking, swimming, and other forms of cardio. Research has suggested that aerobic exercise in particular effectively targets visceral fat.  This is most likely because aerobic exercise supports certain processes in the body like digestion, circulation, metabolism, etc, that can help speed up the loss of visceral fat storage." 



man sleeping soundly in bed
Shutterstock / Syda Productions

"Quality sleep is the body's opportunity to rest and reset itself so that all systems can function properly," says Dr. Kara. Studies have suggested that "7-8 hours of sleep per night can reduce visceral fat by roughly 26%." Again, when the body has the proper chance to refresh itself, all of our organs and processes, such as our metabolism, are able to function at their best which can help with fat 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
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