Visceral fat isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Having a larger waist measurement and too much fat around your abdominal organs can put you at risk of heart and circulatory problems, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnoea, type 2 diabetes, and a number of deadly diseases, so it’s important to keep an eye on it. Express.co.uk chatted to Signe Svanfeldt, nutritionist at nutrition app Lifesum (www.lifesum.com), to find out how to get rid of visceral fat.
Visceral fat is abdominal fat that is located deep in your belly, surrounding your organs.
It isn’t to be confused with subcutaneous fat, which is just below the skin.
Signe said: “Visceral abdominal fat is often referred to as the ‘dangerous’ fat, as having a large proportion of it is a sign of metabolic syndrome and can lead to health risks such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”
So how do you get rid of visceral fat? Here’s everything you need to know.
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How to get rid of visceral fat
Losing visceral fat is about more than eating healthier foods; you need to eat in a calorie deficit.
Signe said: “While we all wish it was as easy as eating a magic food, the reality is there are no single food items that, by themselves, will reduce visceral fat, or any fat for that matter.
“To lose visceral fat you need to reduce your total amount of body fat, and this is done by having an energy deficiency, meaning you need to burn more energy than you eat.
“This can be achieved by a healthy diet, regular physical activity and a limited intake of alcohol.”
Foods to avoid
Shedding your visceral fat isn’t about “a single good or bad food”, it’s about “the whole picture”.
You don’t need to start cutting out whole food groups, but there are four things that you should avoid as much as possible:
Saturated fats (found in food such as ice cream, pastries, full-fat dairy and meat)
Trans fats (found in doughnuts, baked goods and deep-fried food)
Sugar (found in sodas, pastries, sauces and sweets)
Salt (found in frozen meals, some meat, salted nuts and crisps, beans and more)
Signe explained: “Inactivity along with an energy-dense, nutrient-poor diet, filled with saturated fats, added sugars and sodium lead to weight gain, which can lead to an increased amount of visceral fat.”
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Excess visceral fat is often more common in men than women.
Signe explained: “The reason for getting visceral fat can vary, but is most often caused by an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity.
“However, it can also be genetic and can vary with age and sex. Even if women, in general, tend to have a higher body fat percentage than men, men tend to have more visceral fat than women, but women tend to increase their amount when ageing, as their levels of oestrogen drops.”
You can still keep an eye on what you eat and make healthier choices in order to reduce your visceral fat.
When wanting to get rid of visceral fat, a healthy, balanced diet will help you a long way.
Improving your diet isn’t just about cutting things out, it’s about adding things in. A balanced and healthy diet includes:
- dietary fibre such as wholegrain bread, oats, vegetables and fruits
- lean protein such as beans, lentils, fish, tofu, egg, poultry
- healthy fats such as avocado, salmon, olive oil, nuts & seeds
- adequate water intake
While diet is the most important thing when trying to get rid of visceral fat, exercise will also help.
Signe said: “Make sure to include daily physical activity, both cardio and strength training.
“It’s recommended that you do at least 150-300 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity weekly, or 75-150 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity.
“Additionally, make sure to include strength training at least twice a week.
“You don’t need to go to the gym; your own body weight will be enough!”
Remember, some physical activity is better than none. Easy tips on incorporating some physical activity in your daily life are:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Jump off the bus a few stops before your stop, and walk the last part
- Take lunch walks
- Instead of meeting up for a coffee, meet up for a walk
- Set an alarm every hour and do 20 squats or 10 push-ups