Visceral Fat: The Impact on your health and how to reduce the risks

Visceral Fat: The Impact on your health and how to reduce the risks

What is Visceral Fat?

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Visceral fat is a type of body fat that’s stored within the abdominal cavity. It’s located near several vital organs, including the liver, stomach, and intestines. It can also build up in the arteries. It’s often referred to as active fat because it can activate the many health problems associated with it from diabetes, heart disease, insulin resistance and neurological disorders. It is different to subcutaneous fat which is the level of fat just below the skin that you find all over your body. Visceral fat is more dangerous due to its proximity to your vital organs.

How do I reduce visceral fat? Macronutrient basics:

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To lose visceral fat, the body needs a nutrient dense diet which is based around a high protein intake and a lower carbohydrate intake. It’s important to remember that there is no magic diet to lose fat, such as KETO which is just the reduction of carbohydrates. All “diet plans” come back to trying to lower your caloric intake. You do need to be in a caloric deficit to lose visceral body fat. The macronutrient breakdown is then a personal preference, but a very effective method is to aim for high protein, aim for 40-45% protein, 35% healthy fats, and the remaining 25% as carbs. This is why it’s important to find out how many calories you should be consuming and also understanding a basic macronutrient breakdown of what is in the food you are eating. Some foods that are labelled as “healthy” in your local store may in fact just be some clever marketing that people have bought into for generations. Protein needs to be consumed and processed throughout the day to be used as your energy source and you should aim to have 1.8 to 2.3 grams per KG of your body weight. This should be across 5 or 6 protein intakes per day. Limit your consumption of simple sugars, as it’s often stored as fat. Also avoid consuming the saturated fats as they also are stored as fats.

Is eating late at night the problem?

Another common misconception out there is to avoid eating late at night to prevent fat gain however nutrient timing isn't as important as the actual food choices made.
Nutrient timing is discussed to keep people from indulging in late night binge eating sessions as this usually results in quick treats that are high in calories or have excess carbs and bad fats.

Soluble vs insoluble fibre, what’s the difference?

Fibre is also a very important part of the diet to help minimize visceral fat, it is essential to help pass nutrients through the body in an efficient manner. There are two types of fiber: Soluble which is found in fruits and vegetables, beans and oats and insoluble which is found in whole grain foods such as wheat bran.

Is it ok to drink alcohol?

It is important to limit alcohol consumption. This is fairly self-explanatory, but alcohol can be extremely caloric and usually leads to other bad choices, food and otherwise.

What type of exercise will rid visceral body fat?

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An obvious but extremely important thing to include in everyday practices is exercise, it comes back to a very basic human need…getting the body moving. While crunches and ab exercises are great, to lose visceral body fat it’s more important to build muscle mass and get the heart working. The best way to raise your BMR (Base metabolic rate) is to carry more muscle mass. Therefore, a strength training program is vital. High Intensity Interval Training (more commonly referred to as HIIT training) will also be beneficial in getting the heart pumping and helping to burn more calories. The third form of exercise that is often done without a thought or a plan and does not require an expensive gym membership is known as NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) this is the activity that is done every day that burns calories, such as walking up the stairs, making the bed or even gardening. All of these simple but effective activities will help to burn calories and keep your overall health at an optimal level, so next time you plan to get in an elevator consider taking the stairs instead! Small changes can lead to big results if implemented every day.

What if I’m too stressed out and busy to lose my visceral fat?

Stress levels can also lead to stored excess body fat, “stress eating,” While most people's glucose levels go up with mental stress, others' glucose levels can go way down. In people with type 2 diabetes, mental stress often raises blood glucose levels. Sleep is the final forgotten factor in getting rid of excess visceral body fat. Physical stress causes higher blood glucose levels and inflammation throughout the body. Sleep also contributes to your mental welfare and overall energy levels.

Losing your visceral body fat is dependent on making these small changes, whether this means avoiding that extra biscuit, eating more proteins or staying more positive this can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle. While some aspects of the fitness industry are more about aesthetics, losing visceral body fat is the most important to your long-term health and wellness.

Ty Henry

Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer, Fitness Coach

Ty’s interest in training was born out of his interest to become a great American Football Quarterback, leading him to a college scholarship and followed by a professional career that spanned across Australia, Spain, Brazil and America. Read more about Ty Henry