Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat is located deep within the belly. A certain amount is necessary to the body as it protects and insulates your organs. However, having too much has been linked to serious medical conditions including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Although there is no easy way to banish visceral fat, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to reduce it.
Doctor Brian Fisher, from Evergreen Life, shared four ways to do so.
Give fast food the boot
“Refined carbohydrates and sugars contribute heavily to our storage of fat,” he said.
“Firstly, try to cut down on free sugars; that’s found in cakes, sweets, biscuits, chocolate, soft drinks, breakfast cereal and yoghurts etc.
“Free sugars are also found naturally in honey, unsweetened fruit juice, vegetable juices and smoothies.
“Try to stick to less than 30 grams of free sugars per day.
“It’s worth remembering this is a maximum and not a recommended amount; ideally we wouldn’t be having any but if you’d like a sweet treat, try to let it be just that – a treat.”
Make good food swaps
He explained: “Beat hunger and reduce insulin spikes with healthy protein choices.
“Avoid greasy hamburgers, bacon and processed sausages in favour of fish, lean meats such as turkey or chicken, beans and free-range eggs.
“Eating healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocados and walnuts, or fermented foods like kimchi, live yoghurt and miso can benefit your insulin balance, gut bacteria, hormones, and weight management.”
Lose the booze.
Dr Fisher said: “Alcohol makes you gain weight around your midsection, without you realising. It’s so easy to guzzle down hundreds, even thousands, of liquid calories.
“Extra alcohol units also place strain on the liver, which is already working over time to break down the toxic visceral fat acids, if you carry excess visceral fat.
“Give your liver a break – alternate beers with water.”
“Visceral fat loss comes with combining healthy food and a good fitness routine,” he added.
“Research found high-intensity interval training (also known as HIIT) to be the best method for losing visceral fat. It also helps increase your insulin sensitivity.
“Essentially HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise alternated with low-intensity recovery periods.”
It is not possible to know exactly how much visceral fat you have without imaging tests.
However, you can get a rough estimate by measuring your waist using the belly button as a marker.
For women 35 inches or more can signal visceral fat and for men it’s 40 inches or more.
Too much visceral fat can raise your risk of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
- Bowel cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease.
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