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If You Have Visceral Fat, This Is When You'll Begin to Tell

Experts reveal how to measure visceral fat and get rid of it. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Visceral fat is a health issue not widely known about, but affects millions of people. Visceral fat is located deep in your belly and you can't see or touch it, but it wraps around your vital organs and causes severe health issues. Eat This, Not That! Health talked with experts who explain what causes visceral fat, how to prevent it and how to tell if you have 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 so Unhealthy

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Dr. Jae Pak, M.D., of Jae Pak Medical says, "Visceral fat is also known as 'hidden fat' because it is stored deep inside the body and wraps around the organs. If too much visceral fat accumulates, it can be dangerous as it has been linked to heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke and certain cancers."


How to Know When You Have Visceral Fat

Patient lying on the TC scanner bed waiting to be scanned

Dr. Alex Spinoso, MD with Genesis Lifestyle Medicine explains, "The unfortunate thing about visceral fat is that it usually does not become apparent until it is very late in the process. This is because you do not see it from the outside, such as subcutaneous fat. However one can infer that if a patient has a lot of subcutaneous fat, they definitely will have a higher amount of visceral fat. The only way to tell how much visceral fat a patient has is by doing imaging scans such as a CT scan or MRI test."

Dr. Pak adds, "The best way to know if you have a dangerous amount of visceral fat is to measure your waist. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a waist circumference of 35 inches or less if you're a woman and 40 inches for men."


Mistakes People Make When Trying to Lose Visceral Fat

Hungry woman

David Brendan, a ISSA/IFPA Certified Fitness Trainer with Start Rowing says,

"Never be too restrictive with your diet. The more restrictive it is, the less likely you'll continue it long-term. When the strategies go, so do the results which they produced.

  •       Never make large, drastic leaps but rather focus on making small, gradual improvements which compound over time and produce a big result.
  •       Do NOT fall for 'fat loss supplements,' fat loss creams, fat loss stickers/patches, or any other gimmick which at best produce nothing more than a negligible, short term impact. 99.9% of these products are useless and those which are not will ever make a significant enough difference which would warrant taking them. Save your money for healthy foods, educating yourself, home gym equipment, etc NOT 'fat loss products.'
  •       Never negate the importance of the 3 P's; Patience, Perseverance, & Positivity. Be patient, keep pushing forward, and stay positive!"

Causes of Visceral Fat

happy family on couch

Dr. Pak says the following can lead to visceral fat:

Genetics: "Some people tend to carry weight in their mid-section because of their inherited genes. Since that's where your organs are, that means the amount of visceral fat tends to be higher for people who have this type of build.

Aging: "As we age, hormone levels change (like when women go through menopause). This can lead to weight gain (and as a result, an increase in under-the-surface fat)."

Drinking Alcohol: "They call it a 'beer belly' for a reason. Drinking alcohol is known to cause some people to put on excess weight in their mid-sections, leading to a higher concentration of visceral fat."

RELATED: Signs You Have Celiac Disease, Say Physicians


Working Out Helps Reduce Visceral Fat

middle-aged woman working out with dumbbells
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Dr. Alex Spinoso says, "The best ways to reduce visceral fat are going to be exercising for at least 30 minutes every day. This exercise will not only increase blood flow but reduce the amount of visceral fat in the body because the body is not storing excess calories it is using them."

RELATED: If You Notice This on Your Body, Have Your Arms Checked


Eat Healthy

Senior woman making choice between healthy and junk food

Dr. Alex Spinoso explains that "eating a healthy diet," helps reduce visceral fat. "Trans fats that are in fatty, fried, or sugary foods are the cause of visceral fat. Avoiding anything that has trans fats in it will reduce the amount of visceral fat produced in the body."

RELATED: COVID Symptoms That Worry Doctors Most


Other Ways to Eliminate Visceral Fat

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"The way to reduce visceral fat is to make the right lifestyle choices," Dr. Pak reminds us. "Stop drinking alcohol, consume more water, watch what you eat, get plenty of sleep and exercise more. All of these things can help promote weight loss and decreased abdominal fat (which is a good indicator for how much visceral fat you have on your organs)."

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