Genes play an integral part in where and how much fat we store, but diet and exercise also have an effect. Too much visceral fat increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and liver diseases.
Checking visceral fat is simple by measuring your waistline and Body Mass Index (BMI). Healthy strategies for weight loss include eating a nutritious diet of lean proteins, low-sodium foods and non-fat dairy, exercising regularly – such as cardio and strength training sessions – and maintaining good sleeping habits.
What Is Visceral Fat?
Subcutaneous fat is easily pinched under your skin; in contrast, visceral fat that forms under the surface of your belly gives it an apple shape and produces chemicals toxic to your body, increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and fatty liver syndrome. Unfortunately, visceral fat is much harder to reduce with diet and exercise alone, although genetics and hormones can play an influence in its location as you age – particularly after menopause.
Researchers are discovering that fat cells can be biologically active, producing hormones and other substances which have an impactful impact on human health. Abdominal fat cells appear to produce chemicals called cytokines which disrupt normal hormone balance leading to complications like insulin resistance, systemic inflammation and increased blood pressure/blood clotting.
Visceral adiposity assessment is key in evaluating potential risk for serious medical illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes, among others. Techniques available to measure visceral adiposity vary widely in terms of accessibility, specificity and accuracy (Table 1). CT imaging remains the gold standard when it comes to measuring intra-abdominal fat tissue volume directly.
Regular physical activity, even if it does not lead to weight loss, can reduce visceral fat in your abdominal. Research on middle-aged men found that increasing daily exercise to 60 minutes led to an estimated 30% decrease in visceral fat volumes without altering body weight; furthermore, strength and stamina training led to greater reductions than aerobic only training when it came to visceral fat volumes – this finding is particularly noteworthy since visceral fat is highly toxic compared to other forms of body fat and contributes significantly to chronic diseases as we age.
Symptoms of Visceral Fat
Though subcutaneous fat can look unsightly and is generally harmless, the fat that collects around your abdomen can be much more dangerous as it increases weight gain and risks of serious medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and certain cancers. Visceral fat has the ability to form within arteries leading to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and even cancerous growths compared with subcutaneous fat which sits directly beneath the skin and is generally harmless.
Even thin people can suffer from visceral fat. Your genes and lifestyle influence where your body stores fat. For instance, women tend to store it more in their hips than in their bellies while men store more. Aging may alter these patterns; as women approach menopause they may begin storing more abdominal fat which increases risk factors related to health conditions.
Visceral fat has been directly linked to insulin resistance, leading to Type 2 diabetes and other health conditions. Furthermore, visceral fat raises blood pressure which has been linked with heart disease and stroke risks as well as inflamed tissues and organs as well as narrowed blood vessels – leaving your more susceptible to infections such as Covid-19.
Visceral fat can be shed with the same diet and exercise routine that helped you shed your overall bodyweight. Tracking your progress via mobile apps can be an excellent way to stay on course with healthy eating and exercising habits.
Eat a balanced diet filled with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats such as olive oil. Limit sugars and alcoholic beverages that add excess calories. Exercise daily in order to burn off calories and strengthen muscles – aerobics, running or swimming activities that elevate heart rates work especially well, along with strength training that can help your body burn even more calories – aim for 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular and strength training each day for maximum benefits.
Causes of Visceral Fat
Visceral fat is the accumulation of abdominal fat. The more visceral fat you carry, the higher your risk is of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancers such as prostate and colon. Poor diet and physical inactivity are some of the factors contributing to visceral fat accumulation – and men are more likely than women to have it.
Consuming too many calories causes your body to store them as fat in various places; hips, thighs and arms tend to store fat faster. Belly fat poses particular health threats so it’s crucial that you keep track of both calorie intake and physical activity levels for best health results. To do so effectively.
Once your intestines digest and absorb dietary fats, they transport it via the lymphatic system into your bloodstream. Lymphatic capillaries are much wider than blood capillaries, allowing larger particles like chylomicrons to enter. From there they travel to your liver where they’re converted into triglycerides and cholesterol; some of this latter compound then stores itself within fat cells in your abdominal cavity resulting in visceral fat being associated with poor health.
Visceral fat cells not only store triglycerides and cholesterol, but they also release hormones and chemicals that contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and more. Furthermore, they produce proteins which constrict your blood vessels further increasing your risk for high blood pressure.
Visceral fat can interfere with both your digestive and immune systems. It may prevent nutrients from being absorbed properly, cause constipation or gallstones and increase infection risks; even lead to diabetes by making cells less sensitive to the hormone insulin.
An ideal visceral fat level should be about 10% of body weight. To assess it, ask your healthcare provider to measure your waist circumference or take measurements yourself at home by wrapping tape measures around your waist and hips. A measurement exceeding 0.85 for women or 0.90 for men indicates abdominal obesity – meaning an elevated visceral fat content; healthcare providers can assist in making necessary changes in lifestyle and diet to decrease visceral fat accumulation.
Treatments for Visceral Fat
Visceral fat in the abdomen is especially unhealthy as it encases vital organs. An increase in visceral fat has been linked to numerous health concerns, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, liver conditions and blood disorders; and can release hormones that cause inflammation and insulin resistance.
Visceral fat can be hard to detect, and you might only realize you have too much when taking an imaging test such as CT scan or MRI. Measuring waist circumference may provide a good indication of risk. To reduce belly fat effectively, follow a healthy diet, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of restful sleep.
Diets to help reduce visceral fat should include lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy and fruits and vegetables as the cornerstone. It’s best to limit processed food consumption with added sugars or salt while increasing fiber intake as part of a plan to cut visceral fat. Physical activity targeting large muscle groups such as running can also help, so aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days per week.
Recent research demonstrated that increasing physical exercise to 60 minutes daily for three months resulted in reduced visceral fat in middle-aged men and women; particularly for those who were overweight at the beginning. The effect was particularly profound among overweight participants.
Additionally, it is crucial to successfully managing stress and getting enough restful sleep in order to minimize cortisol production – which in turn causes fat cell expansion and increases visceral storage in your body.
If your visceral fat concerns are being addressed by diet and exercise alone, seek medical advice immediately. A doctor will discuss your symptoms, check your blood pressure and heart rate, take samples from blood or pee, as well as suggest a diet and exercise plan designed to reduce visceral fat. However, results of such changes can take time; visceral fat tends to form quickly; by making changes you can slow its accumulation over time.