How to lose visceral fat: Three lifestyle interventions linked to reduced belly fat
Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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Visceral fat lies perilously close to important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. Visceral fat build-up can be a precursor to chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, you can reduce the belly fat by making healthy lifestyle interventions.
One study sought to identify the impact of different lifestyle interventions on visceral fat.
The study included 97 obese and overweight people with a low socioeconomic status in an eight-month lifestyle intervention.
Anthropometric (muscle, bone, and body fat), fitness and nutritional tests were assessed.
The key finding was that eating the recommended daily portions of fruit, gaining strength in the legs and gaining flexibility are “factors predictive of a lower visceral fat index”.
The researchers also found being older than 45 and eating the recommended weekly portions of cereals and meats, fat and processed meats increased the visceral fat index.
The findings of the study are not surprising – gaining strength in the legs is a product of aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective interventions against visceral fat.
Examples of aerobic activities:
- Brisk walking
- Water aerobics
- Riding a bike
- Doubles tennis
- Pushing a lawn mower
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According to Harvard Health, you should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity most days, such as brisk walking or bicycling at a casual pace.
What’s more, exercise can also help keep the belly fat from coming back.
In a study at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, dieting women lost an average of 24 pounds and reduced both visceral and subcutaneous fat, with or without aerobic or strength-training exercise.
In the following year, those who maintained their exercise programs — a modest 40 minutes twice a week — maintained their visceral fat loss, while those who didn’t exercise or abandoned their programs showed a 33 percent average increase in visceral fat.
Other key tips
In addition to exercising regularly, you should also eat a healthy, balanced diet.
According to Bupa, protein can be a helpful way to lose weight because it makes you feel fuller than carbs and fat do.
“If you include a lean source of protein, such as skinless white chicken, in your meals you may find that you’re not as hungry, and so eat less,” explains the health body.
Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.
Other key dietary tips include:
- Have some reduced-fat dairy or soya drinks fortified in calcium.
- Eat more beans, pulses, fish and eggs.
- Eat small amounts of unsaturated oil.
- Drink six to eight glasses of water each day.
- Avoid adding salt or sugar to your meals.
According to Bupa, you should cut out sports drinks, sugar sweetened drinks and other foods that have a lot of added sugar in them.
Added sugar is one of the main contributors of visceral fat build-up.
“Be aware that low-fat options might have high amounts of added sugar in them,” warns Bupa.
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