Fat comes in two forms – visceral and subcutaneous, and the former is much more pernicious than the latter. Visceral fat lies deep under the surface, in close proximity to vital organs such as the liver and intestines, so carrying an excess amount of can raise your risk of developing potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as heart disease.
- How to lose visceral fat: Cut back on this food to reduce belly fat
One of the primary causes of visceral fat is unhealthy dietary decisions so it is vital to exercise moderation when consuming certain items in a bid to keep visceral fat at bay.
Evidence ties high alcohol consumption to visceral fat gain, for example, so drinking within the NHS’ recommended guidelines of no more than 14 units a week is critical.
In fact, several studies investigating the link have shown that drinking too much alcohol may encourage fat to be stored as visceral fat.
A study in 8,603 Korean adults found that people who drank the most alcohol also had the largest waist circumference, a marker of visceral fat.
Bolstering the findings, another study in 87 women found that a moderate alcohol intake was also linked to carrying more visceral fat.
How does alcohol intake cause the harmful belly fat?
Alcoholic drinks, such as beer, increases the risk of belly fat because the liver prioritises burning alcohol before metabolising fat, according to Columbia Health.
As medical website LiveStrong explains: “This allows more fat to store in your body in a process known as fat sparing. Beer and other alcoholic drinks tend to increase appetite, so extra calories can be consumed through snacks often paired with beer, such as potato chips, pizza or baked goods.”
Beer also has empty calories; it doesn’t contain the fibre, vitamins or minerals you need to feel satisfied, which also leads to excess calorie consumption and fat gain, explains the health site.
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According to charity Drinkaware, alcoholic drinks also account for 10 percent of 29 to 64 year olds in the UK’s daily intake of added sugar, and six percent for over 65s.
Several studies have shown that people who consume more added sugar tend to have more visceral fat.
Research investigating the link revealed that added sugar contains roughly 50 percent fructose, a simple sugar that is metabolised by the liver.
In large amounts, fructose can get turned into fat by the liver and this may increase visceral fat storage.
- How to lose visceral fat: Eat this food to reduce harmful belly fat
This process suggests that eating less added sugar and fructose may be an effective way to lose visceral fat.
This claim is supported by a study of of 41 children aged nine to 18, in which scientists replaced fructose in their diets with starch that provided the same amount of calories.
They found that this simple change reduced liver fat by 3.4 percent and visceral fat by 10.6 percent in just 10 days.
In addition to restricting your intake of unhealthy dietary items, engaging in physical activity also provides a defence against the harmful belly fat.
You should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, which helps you burn calories, advises LiveStrong.
The health site explains: “A weight loss of five to 10 percent of your total body weight can help reduce visceral fat stores. To achieve that, your daily caloric balance (calories consumed minus calories burned) needs to be negative.”
For optimal calorie burning, the health body recommends engaging in any moderate-intensity exercise that gets your heart pumping, such as circuit training, brisk walking, biking.
A University of Virginia study also found that high intensity interval training attacks total abdominal fat, including visceral and subcutaneous fat.
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