When we think of “fat,” we tend to think of subcutaneous fat, which is the fat just underneath our skin that we can pinch and feel. However, there is another type of fat that’s “hidden.” It’s called visceral fat, and it is stored deep inside the body where it wraps around abdominal organs like the liver, stomach and intestines.
Is visceral fat dangerous?
In some people, visceral fat can make the belly stick out or give someone an “apple-shaped” body. Studies show that having excess fat around the waistline can cause a host of problems like high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance, increasing the risks for stroke, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes.
Visceral fat can also be dangerous because it is considered “metabolically active,” meaning it produces chemicals and hormones that be toxic and inflammatory to the body. Even in thin or slender people, having visceral fat carries many health risks.
What causes visceral fat?
Consuming too many calories and exercising too little inevitably causes fat to be stored in the body. However, there are certain foods known to increase the risk of visceral fat. One is trans fats, found typically in meats, dairy products, and deep-fried or processed foods. Alcohol, sugary drinks, candy, processed baked goods, and fructose-sweetened foods can also increase the risk of gaining visceral fat.
How do I know how much visceral fat I have in my body?
Having a rotund belly or thick midsection is generally an indicator of increased visceral fat. But if you want a clearer picture, there are various ways to measure visceral fat. CT scans and full-body MRIs are the most precise. However, body composition scans, such as InBody 570 or Evolt 360, can measure visceral fat, along with skeletal muscle, body fat, and hydration.
How can I reduce visceral fat?
The best way to reduce visceral fat is through nutrition and exercise. Here are five tips to consider.
1. Move more throughout the day.
Moving more throughout the day will burn calories and help you create the caloric deficit you need to lose weight. Your body has an enzyme that’s critical in converting fat to energy. It’s called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), and if you are consistently sedentary, you have LESS of it! Moving your body throughout the day can help keep those levels up! It can be as simple as parking further away from an entrance, taking the stairs at work, or walking after a meal.
2. Begin resistance training.
Resistance training is the pathway to getting stronger and promoting lean muscle growth. Muscle tissue burns more calories per day than fatty tissue because it helps raise your resting metabolism. By promoting lean muscle growth, you can help improve your gut health. Studies show that regular exercise makes for more healthy bacteria inside your digestive tract – and more healthy bacteria is linked to being at a “normal” weight.
3. Eat a complete protein at every meal /snack.
Protein is a staple in our nutrition plan. It helps support your lean mass and helps you feel full. Try to aim for at least 20-30g of protein at each meal. Sometimes, it is hard to get enough protein if you’re constantly on the go. This is where protein supplements come in handy because they are great for quick and easy on-the-go options.
4. Lower your stress levels.
Stress places extra pressure on your body, leading to unfavorable changes in hormones, recovery, and other crucial aspects that influence metabolism, making you gain weight, especially unhealthy belly fat. You can take back control by finding different ways to participate in stress-relieving activities such as going for a walk, taking a mini-break during your workday, yoga, meditation, etc.
5. Get enough sleep.
Researchers from the University of Chicago found that when people only get 5 hours of sleep at night, it reduces the rate of fat loss by more than half. In the study they conducted, researchers had people eat a calorie-restricted diet. Everyone in the study lost weight, but the individuals who had eight hours of sleep burned significantly more fat than those who received only 5 hours of sleep.
You can start prepping for a good night’s sleep by getting some sunlight first thing in the morning. Research shows that bright lights stimulate the part of your body that regulates your circadian rhythms.
About the Author: Brittinie Wick is an Air Force Veteran turned Health and Fitness Coach who founded Brittinie Wick Fitness. Her mission is to empower all women, through fitness and nutrition, to gain confidence, lose weight, and celebrate the feeling of strong and sexy. Grab Brittinie’s “Healthy at Every Age” guide! This ebook is aimed at people just like you, who want to live their BEST, MOST ACTIVE life, starting TODAY and continuing deep into the future!