Most People Get Visceral Fat This Way, Experts Say
If you haven't heard of visceral fat, you're not alone. While most people know about subcutaneous fat–the belly fat that you can see and pinch, visceral fat is hidden deep within your abdomen and it's wrapped around your vital organs, many don't know about visceral fat or even know they have it. Visceral fat is dangerous because it causes severe health issues like cancer, stroke, high cholesterol and more. So how does someone get visceral fat? Eat This. Not That! Health talked with NASM-Certified Personal Trainer and Performance Coach, Keith Hodges, founder of Mind In Muscle Coaching who explained different ways to get it and how to help prevent visceral fat. 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
Hodges says, "Visceral fat, also known as active fat, is the fat that is stored in a person's abdominal cavity surrounding our stomach, liver and intestines. Since it is located deep inside our bodies it is not always visible (depending on your body type) and can mislead someone into believing they are in good health, making this type of fat dangerous. Since visceral fat surrounds several vital organs, it actively increases the risk for Alzheimer's and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gout, stroke, breast and colon cancer, heart attack, low testosterone levels and infertility."
According to Hodges, "A sedentary lifestyle will increase visceral fat storage because your body isn't moving! This means a person's metabolism is slow because they are not engaging in enough physical activity to raise their metabolism and to burn calories. The opposite of sedentary is being active. It's important to start moving on a daily basis to jumpstart your metabolism. Remember, it's a battle of caloric intake vs caloric expenditure."
Chronic Stress and Cortisol
Hodges explains, "Cortisol is known as the stress hormone produced by our adrenal glands to help combat infections and aids in blood sugar regulation. Chronic stress increases cortisol levels and a few side effects associated with this is adrenal fatigue, inflammation and fat storage. These all can potentially lead to lack of physical activity and excess visceral fat storage. My suggestion to help manage chronic stress levels would be to engage in some kind of physical activity to release endorphins. I'd also suggest engaging in mediation and breathing techniques to help offset negative emotions that can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms due to chronic stress."
"Consuming too much processed and added sugar in the food you eat and beverages you drink can lead to visceral fat," Hodges states." These foods usually come in the form of candy, protein bars, cereals/cereal bars and pastries to name a few. The drinks usually are fruit juices, sport and energy drinks, sodas and specialty coffees like lattes. These types of food and drinks spike our blood sugar levels and increase the craving for more food and drinks. The best way to remedy this is to eat minimally processed foods and increase your water intake."
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Hodges says, "Alcoholic beverages are usually high in sugar, especially when mixed with sodas and fruit drinks to make cocktails, leading to a higher caloric intake. There are many reasons why too much alcohol consumption is detrimental to our health, but when it comes to visceral fat, higher alcohol consumption decreases fat oxidation, increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels and can alter leptin and ghrelin (hormones associated with appetite) levels. The first suggestion would be to stop drinking alcohol and if you're going to drink alcohol, replace the fruit drinks and sodas used to make cocktails with sugar-free options or tonic water."
Low Fiber Consumption
"Unfortunately, a lot of foods in America consist of refined carbohydrates that are low in fiber," Hodges explains. "These foods lead to weight gain because we usually eat more than we should to feel full, and we consume them more often because we don't feel full as long. This is because refined foods increase hunger cravings due to the additives that play a trick on our taste buds. These two factors will lead to an increased amount of fat in storage. Consuming fiber helps you feel full while consuming less calories. Both soluble and insoluble fiber normalizes bowel movements, lowers cholesterol levels, regulates blood sugar levels, and reduces visceral fat storage. Foods high in fiber include lentils, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans. The recommended daily intake for fiber is at least 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams per day for men." So get that fiber. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.