Visceral fat is a particular type of adipose tissue stored around the abdominal organs. In excess, it poses a risk to health ... Here are 7 tips to help you eliminate unwelcome visceral fat.
There are several types of body fat or adipose tissue (1):
brown adipose tissue, particularly abundant in babies but also present in adults, which is responsible for providing ATP, a source of energy, and has little or nothing to do with excess weight and obesity;
white adipose tissue, an essential energy reserve in the form of adipocytes, amounts of which are regulated by the pancreas depending on food intake.
This white fat is itself divided into two distinct types:
It’s therefore common to confuse abdominal and visceral fat: when a person is overweight, and especially when they have an unhealthy lifestyle, they accumulate fat around their middle and abdomen, not just subcutaneous abdominal fat but also visceral fat. And together, these two types of fat produce what is sometimes referred to as a ‘a pot belly’.
Visceral fat in itself is not dangerous; indeed it’s necessary. It serves as an energy reserve for vital organ function in case of famine. However, modern Western lifestyles, which are completely out of step with our bodies’ needs, promote excessive accumulation of visceral fat, which has endocrine functions.
Indeed, excess visceral fat is involved in metabolic syndrome, the development of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. (2-3).
Visceral fat levels are very difficult to calculate accurately without a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA, scan.
However, it’s possible to estimate your visceral fat by calculating your waist-hip ratio. For this, you divide your waist measurement by that of your hips. If this figure is less than 0.85% for a woman or 0.9% for a man, the level of visceral fat is judged to be reasonable. If it’s above these percentages, it’s generally considered wise to take steps to reduce or eliminate it (4).
While for obvious hormonal reasons, there are differences in visceral fat between men and women, the methods for eliminating it are the same, regardless of sex.
It’s worth noting though that the main difference between men and women here is in the distribution of subcutaneous fat, rather than the accumulation of visceral fat. Broadly speaking, white fat accounts for 15%-20% of adult bodyweight.
Women tend to accumulate subcutaneous fat around the hips, neck, arms and breasts, while for men it’s more around the abdomen.
The first way of naturally eliminating visceral fat is, of course, to change your diet.
As it is regulated by the pancreas, visceral fat is particularly significant in those who eat a lot of foods with a high glycaemic index (GI) and a high glucose and fructose content (5).
So the first thing to do is switch to a low GI diet, focusing on fresh, unprocessed wholefoods.
It’s not about following a weight-loss diet but removing foods harmful to your health: fizzy drinks, ready meals, chocolate bars, alcohol, processed breakfast cereals, etc.
20-30 minutes a day of light to moderate exercise is enough to increase calorie expenditure. The body’s organs will then draw the energy they need to function directly from stores of visceral fat.
In addition, physical activity has positive effects on insulin regulation, which is directly involved in metabolising the carbohydrates that supply visceral fat adipocytes.
So to get rid of this tummy fat, think seriously about adopting a less sedentary lifestyle (6).
The rind of fruit from the Asian treeGarcinia cambogia is one of the few sources of hydroxycitric acid, a molecule which helps to reduce fat storage by inhibiting ATP-citrate lyase, an enzyme essential to the body’s synthesis of fatty acids.
Hydroxycitric acid also enhances fat oxidation and has a recognised appetite-suppressant effect. Garcinia cambogia is thus known to help maintain normal blood sugar levels and aid weight control (7).
That’s why Garcinia cambogia features in many synergistic slimming supplements (such as Metadrine™, which also contains a patented chilli extract, caffeine and many other compounds that optimise the hunger-suppressant and metabolic effects of Garcinia cambogia).
Another plant worth considering is an Ayurvedic herb called Coleus forskholii. Its active ingredient, forskolin, helps to increase lipolysis (the breakdown of fats) and aid weight loss (a natural extract can be found in Advanced Fat Burner).
The body cannot function properly without water. It regulates temperature, enables intra- and extra-cellular exchanges, as well as metabolic reactions that require a hydrogen atom, and promotes the elimination of waste products in urine and stools. It’s also an excellent, calorie-free appetite-suppressant.
Add to that the fact that a dehydrated body is one under significant metabolic stress and you can see just how important adequate hydration is for eliminating visceral fat (8).
So every morning, remember to drink half a litre of water, plus at least another litre throughout the day, to ensure your body stays properly hydrated.
As well as focusing on low GI foods, it’s essential to eat a diet high in fibre. Not only will it facilitate intestinal motility, and thus excretion of toxins and surplus macronutrients, but according to some studies, soluble fibre may support weight control (9).
These studies suggest that one of the benefits of soluble fibre is that it forms a kind of gel in the gut which traps some of the fat. In doing so, it may slow down cholesterol and fat absorption, and carbohydrate digestion. This latter effect may help reduce a food’s glycaemic load, which explains why, for example, wholegrain rice has a lower glycaemic load than white rice.
And glycaemic load has a direct effect on insulin spikes and thus storage of visceral fat.
That’s why many people take natural soluble fibre supplements (such as Organic Acacia, made from acacia gum) to help get rid of visceral fat.
Used for millennia for supporting digestive health, liquorice may also be a valuable aid in countering the accumulation of visceral fat.
One Japanese study compared loss of fat mass between two groups of volunteers, one given a placebo and the other a liquorice extract, both consuming the same amount of calories throughout the study.
After 8 weeks, the liquorice group had lost on average almost a kilo more in fat mass than the placebo group.
The researchers surmised that it was liquorice’s antioxidant properties which were responsible for the impact on fatty acid synthesis but added that further studies were needed to understand the effects of this age-old plant.
Nonetheless, liquorice is considered good for metabolic health and weight loss (which is why it is found in supplements such asViscerox) (10).
A plant traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 2500 years, Gymnema sylvestre is also an interesting natural remedy for fighting visceral fat.
Rich in gymnemic acid, Gymnema sylvestre may:
In any event, with numerous studies having demonstrated its benefits,Gymnema sylvestre is recognised for helping to normalise the metabolism or sugars and aid weight control (11).
Stressful situations also promote the accumulation of visceral fat, the latter serving as a reserve for the body when survival is under threat.
What’s more, stress and lack of sleep induce excess production of the stress hormone cortisol, a hormone which increases cell sensitivity to insulin.
It has thus been widely demonstrated that storage of fat, especially visceral fat, is stimulated by stressful situations and lack of sleep (12-13).
So to eliminate visceral fat, it’s important to sleep well and take care your mental health: both of which will be greatly helped by a healthy diet and regular exercise. You can therefore kill several birds with one stone!
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