The Hidden Dangers of Visceral Fat (and How to Get Rid of It!)
Dr. Philip Rodger
Owner and Clinic Director
Those who are trying to get rid of their excess belly fat know how hard it can be. More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, opening them up to several dangerous (if not deadly) health risks.
Weight loss can be challenging, and getting rid of stubborn visceral fat is going to take time and effort.
Visceral fat is dangerous. It’s not the same as what we consider “normal fat”, and that extra weight around your middle could be impacting your health more than you know.
While having some fat is healthy, getting rid of that visceral fat is important.
If you’re worried about visceral fat in your midsection, we’re here to help. Read on to learn all about visceral fat and how to get rid of it.
What Is Visceral Fat?
There are two primary types of fat in the body, subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat is often the kind of fat that annoys us the most. It’s soft and jiggly and prone to dimples and cellulite craters. That said, normal amounts of subcutaneous fat helps to improve the metabolism of glucose. It also helps to protect your organs and it keeps your face looking full.
This fat is the first (and last) fat to go away for people who are working towards weight loss. Visceral fat is harder to target.
Visceral fat is deeper under the skin, even wrapping around the organs and underneath the abdominals. This is the fat that’s connected to the weight-related health conditions like type 2 diabetes and certain kinds of cancer. It isn’t soft or “squishy” like subcutaneous fat. It’s often referred to as “firm” fat due to its texture.
It creates inflammation in your body, constricting blood vessels. It puts you at risk for heart disease and strokes. In other words, this kind of fat should be removed.
Why Do I Have It?
Visceral fat can be genetic, though it’s something that you can still remove with time and effort. The genetic aspects just leave you more predisposed to accumulating visceral fat.
The most common reason for this fat is a lack of a healthy diet and exercise. This is common in the United States due to our sedentary lifestyles.
Eating too much sugar or other forms of empty calories can result in the accumulation of visceral fat. That said, you can work towards visceral fat loss with a few dietary changes and a new active lifestyle.
Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid
Changing your diet is the first step towards getting rid of that stubborn visceral belly fat. It’s an easy thing to do that has a big impact, though it will take a bit of discipline and a new way of grocery shopping.
Here are a few foods you should ditch and a few foods you should aim for.
What to Avoid
You’re going to want to get rid of anything with excess sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. This is common in sweet snacks and sodas, but it also shows up in surprising areas.
Some yogurts, salad dressings, fruit juices, granola or energy bars, and even canned fruit contain high-fructose corn syrup. You should always check the labels to make sure that your “healthy foods” are actually healthy.
Refined carbohydrates should be avoided as well. limiting your carb intake overall will help you get rid of excess body fat, but refined carbs are the real culprit. Refined carbs are stripped of any nutritional benefits. They’re only there to taste good.
You want to eat whole wheat products instead of refined products. This means avoiding things like most pizza dough, white rice, most cereals, and sweets.
Foods with a lot of fat can also increase visceral fat, but there are good fats as well. Limit your fats to polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats (like avocados or nuts).
What to Eat
Aim your shopping cart towards the produce aisle first next time you go shopping. Eating foods like leafy greens, fibrous fruits, and vegetables, and legumes will help you with your fat loss journey.
A higher protein diet can also be good for removing visceral fat (and it can help you build muscle).
Protein and fiber can keep you full, helping you resist the urge to snack.
If you have trouble losing weight even with your new diet, look into supplements taken with a doctor’s supervision that may help you with the process. Every type of body is different and some benefit more than others from standard diet changes.
Start an Exercise Program
Exercise is going to be the key player in your visceral fat loss.
If you’re very overweight, exercise might be difficult or even dangerous at first. Start slow if this applies to you.
Even taking walks around the neighborhood is a good start but you should build up from there when you’re able. Even starting with low-impact indoor options like pilates and yoga can help. High-intensity exercises are better for burning fat. These can be aerobic exercises or strength-training exercises.
These exercises have other health benefits as well. You’ll be releasing endorphins that improve your mood. You’ll also be improving your respiratory and cardiovascular health.
Investing in a trainer if you’re new to exercise is a good idea, even if you only need them for a few sessions. They can help you find an exercise routine that suits your needs, restrictions, and goals.
You Can Get Rid of Stubborn Visceral Fat
Visceral fat is dangerous but you don’t have to live with it. Changing your diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle will help you to lose the fat that you’re trying to get rid of.
Improve your health today by shedding some of that extra visceral fat around your middle.