Visceral fat isn’t necessarily associated with being overweight or obese. It’s stored in the abdomen, so isn’t as pinchable, but is located near vital organs, such as the liver, stomach and intestines, putting you at increased risk of many serious health conditions. Too much visceral fat can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease. So what can you do to get rid of it? Sweating for 30 to 60 minutes each day doing exercise is one way suggested by MyFitnessPal.
It explains: “Visceral fat responds well to regular endurance exercises, such as running, biking, rowing, swimming, that elevate your heart rate.
“As your body uses fat to fuel exercise, it’ll start using up your visceral stores.”
Other methods it recommends is sleeping more, stressing less, and eating a well balanced diet.
So what changes should you be making to your diet?
Studies have found eating more protein and soluble fibre, limiting sugar and alcohol intake and avoiding trans fats can help.
Eating more protein
Eating more protein has been found to help you feel fuller for longer and can also boost your metabolism – both of which can aid weight loss.
In studies, such as one titled ‘Quality protein intake is inversely related with abdominal fat’, people who eat more protein tend to carry less visceral fat.
Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, diary and legumes.
Eating more soluble fibre
Soluble fibre is found in oats, barley, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils, as well as many vegetables.
Eating soluble fibre has been found to help suppress appetite, which can therefore reduce visceral fat.
One study (‘Short-chain fatty acids stimulate glucagon-like peptide-1 secretion via the G-protein-coupled receptor FFAR2’) found short-chain fatty cards help increase levels of fullness hormones.
Limit sugar intake
It’s not secret that eating too much sugar an lead to weight gain.
Studies (including ‘Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes: Epidemiologic evidence’) have also suggested people who eat more added sugar usually have more visceral fat.
Adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day, according to the NHS.
To cut down your sugar intake, opt for whole foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean meats.
Limit alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol can have a number of negative effects on a person’s health.
A study polished in The Journal of Nutrition (‘Alcohol Drinking Patterns Differentially Affect Central Adiposity as Measured by Abdominal Height in Women and Men’) said those that drink too much alcohol may encourage fat to be stored as visceral fat.
Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis, but try cutting down to see significant weight loss results.
Avoid trans fats
Trans fat is a type of fat created by pumping hydrogen into vegetable oils. They have a longer shelf way which is why they are added to many processed foods.
But a study shows trans fat can increase visceral fat and cause a number of health problems (‘Health effects of trans-fatty acids: experimental and observational evidence’).
Most supermarkets in the UK have removed trans fats from their own-brand products.
Figures show Britons eat more saturated fats than trans fat so it’s also important to eat less of this.
Unsaturated fats are found primarily in oils from plants and fish.
Harvard Health Publishing, part of Harvard Medical School, recommends three ways to get rid of visceral fat.