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Over 60? Here's How to Lose Visceral Fat

Learn all about visceral fat and five ways to get rid of it. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Although visceral fat isn't talked about enough, it's a hidden health issue that's a major concern because it's been linked to some cancers, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and more. Unlike subcutaneous fat, which you can see and pinch, visceral fat is located deep in your belly and wraps around your vital organs, so most people don't know it's there. Anyone from their teens to 100-years-old can have visceral fat and it's important to lose in order to maintain overall health. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Hector Perez, a board-certified general and bariatric surgeon with Bariatric Journal shares how to lose visceral fat after 60. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What is Visceral Fat?

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

Dr. Perez says, "Visceral fat is known as 'hidden fat' stored deep within the abdominal cavity, wrapped around vital organs, including the liver, pancreas, and intestines. Unlike subcutaneous fat, which resides just under the skin, visceral fat cannot be seen or pinched. Having or carrying too much visceral fat is extremely dangerous to one's health. This type of fat has been linked with an increased risk for several chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer."


How to Measure Visceral Fat

Nutritionist inspecting a woman's waist using a meter tape

Dr. Perez states, "Since visceral fat cannot be seen or pinched, it's more difficult to determine if you have it. One way to tell is through imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI. However, these tests can be expensive and may not be accessible to everyone. Another way to estimate the amount of visceral fat you have is by measuring your waist circumference. Those with a waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women are considered to have too much visceral fat and are at risk of developing health problems because of it. You can also calculate your body mass index (BMI) to determine whether you have too much visceral fat. A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese, which is a key sign that you could be carrying too much visceral fat."


How to Know When You Lose Visceral Fat

slow aging and lose belly fat

According to Dr. Perez. "You can also use the above methods to know if you're losing visceral fat. Losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce the visceral fat in your body and improve your overall health. If you're trying to lose weight, aim to do so gradually by making small, sustainable changes to your diet and exercise routine. And be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any weight loss program".


Why It's Hard to Lose Weight As We Age

fit mature man doing dumbbells workout

"Losing weight gets harder as you age," says Dr. Perez. "That's because the metabolic rate, or the rate at which your body burns calories, naturally slows down as you get older. So while you may be able to lose weight more quickly in your teens or 20s, it's often harder to keep the weight off as you get older."


Get 30 Minutes of Exercise a Day

mature couple jogging outdoors

Dr. Perez suggests, "be sure to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. This could include going for a brisk walk, riding a bike, or swimming. You can even break up your exercise into shorter 10-minute sessions throughout the day if that's more manageable. Just remember that any amount of exercise is better than none at all."

The Cleveland Clinic states, "Exercises that increase your heart rate and make you sweat help you lose weight in general — both visceral fat and the fat under your skin. Aerobic exercise burns overall calories and helps you reduce total body fat, especially if you make changes in your diet at the same time."


Eat More Fruits and Veggies

eat fiber foods

Dr. Perez says, "The best way to prevent gaining visceral fat as you age is to live a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Start incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet, and stop consuming processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive amounts of alcohol."


Manage Stress

Woman with tablet indoors on sofa at home feeling stressed, mental health concept.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, "If you're feeling stressed out, your body is likely releasing the stress hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. While this can lead to weight gain, there's a strong link between an increase in cortisol and higher amounts of visceral fat."


Cut Back on Alcohol

drinking alcohol

The Cleveland Clinic says, "Research shows that if you're a heavy drinker, you may have more belly fat than social or casual drinkers. In addition to the extra calories you consume by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, alcohol can lower your inhibitions."


Sleep 7-9 Hours a Night

older couple sleeping peacefully

The Cleveland Clinic says, "A good night's sleep is vital. It can boost your immune system, improve your mood and increase productivity — among other things. When it comes to belly fat and weight loss, our sleep can affect ghrelin and leptin, appetite-stimulating hormones."


Talk With Your Doctor


Dr. Perez states, "Making these lifestyle changes can help to reduce your risk of developing visceral fat and improve your overall health as you age. However, it's important to talk with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or exercise routine, especially if you have any medical conditions. This way, you can make sure that any changes you make are safe and appropriate for your individual health needs."

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