Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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Visceral fat is fat that is stored deep within the belly, unlike subcutaneous fat which can be found under the skin. It is needed to protect and insulate certain vital organs. However, having too much of it can be potentially life-threatening.
As would be expected, one way to help lower visceral fat is through a healthy diet.
Cutting back on fatty and sugary foods, for example, can achieve this.
But an expert spoke with Express.co.uk about the foods we should be eating more of to reduce visceral fat in the belly.
Lisa Simon, registered dietitian at Plant Based Health Professionals, explained: “A certain level of fat is normal and we need it for many body functions, including the production of hormones, but excess fat inside the abdomen, known as visceral fat is associated with an increased risk of many chronic disease conditions.
“These include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers.”
She specifically advised upping your whole food intake to see results.
Whole foods are essentially foods that have not been processed, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Ms Simon continued: “The best diet is one high in plant foods and low in animal foods.
“This is because plant foods do not contain cholesterol and if you eat predominantly whole foods such as legumes, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables you will be consuming low amounts of saturated fat and high amounts of fibre which is really important for weight loss and also general health.
“Eating a diet rich in fibre means that you will feel full and satisfied after a meal, it will help to maintain steady blood glucose levels, and because fibre acts as a bulking agent to your stools, it helps keep your digestive system functioning optimally.
“Animal foods on the other hand are often high in saturated fats and they also contain cholesterol and are devoid of fibre.
“All of these things will increase the risk of visceral fat storage and chronic disease.”
Other ways to tackle visceral fat
She advised on the best type of exercise to lower visceral fat levels.
“A combination of cardio and strength training is important when trying to reduce visceral fat,” Ms Simon said.
“Cardio training raises your heart rate and promotes visceral fat loss, and strength training increases bone strength and muscle size.
“A benefit of strength training is that it improves your metabolic rate as you will continue to ‘burn’ fat after your session has finished.”
She added: “Other lifestyle factors which are important to consider are stress and sleep.
“If your stress levels are high you will release more cortisol (a hormone) and this increases visceral fat storage.
“Poor sleep can also increase cortisol. Having techniques in place to help reduce your stress is really important and these can be whatever works for you.
“Guided meditation is great for those with busy minds who find it hard to switch off and relax; walking in nature, especially through forests has been shown to reduce tension and stress levels; yoga and pilates can be really effective, or simply curling up with a good book, or creating something beautiful.”
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