My last quick question looked at what visceral fat is, why it’s harmful and how you can tell how much visceral fat you have. Do read that first if you need to, you can find it here. Now let’s consider how we can get rid of visceral fat. What can we do to make ourselves healthier on the inside and reduce our risk of major diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer?
It’s good to know that there are steps we can take to reduce our visceral fat and significantly improve our future health. Here are some simple, every day things we can all do:
- Mix up your exercise. Visceral fat is very responsive to exercise so increasing the amount you do will help to reduce its levels. Abdominal exercises like sit ups aren’t going to reduce that central fat though, even if they feel as if they should. You need to do lots of exercise where your heart rate is high and you are out of breath. Running long distances is good but lots of brisk walking every day will help too. High intensity interval training is very effective for reducing visceral fat and short sessions of this can be easily fitted into most people’s day.
- Tackle your diet. Diet is key to reducing visceral fat. Cut back on your carbohydrates and increase your protein. In the extreme you can use a ketogenic diet but personally I prefer smaller changes that I can easily sustain. Reduce your sugars, increase your vegetables, protein and wholegrains. Don’t be afraid of healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados. Make lots of small healthy choices.
- Reduce your alcohol. Alcohol is such an easy way to guzzle unwanted calories and these often end up stored as fat around the middle and as visceral fat. Small changes all add up, just cut back a bit.
- Sleep well. According to research, a lack of sleep can increase your visceral fat levels. Sleeping excessively however is known to increase weight so that’s to be avoided too. Aim for 7 to 8 hours per night. Regular exercise is proven to help sleep and will of course help to reduce visceral fat while you do it – win win!
- Stress less. Easy to say and hard to do but it’s worth trying. Stress causes an increase in the level of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is made in the adrenal glands which sit just above the kidneys. It’s involved in many body processes including metabolism and the immune system. It increases blood sugar levels and it’s thought that it increases visceral fat levels. Stressing less means less cortisol. Do whatever works for you, laugh with friends, ask for help and don’t forget exercise can really help to manage stress levels.
Don’t worry about what the scales are telling you. This is not about weight loss per se. It’s about making you healthier from the inside out and reducing the levels of harmful fat in your body. This is for all of us, not just for those that are overweight. People who have a normal BMI can have lots of visceral fat too. We shouldn’t judge ourselves or make judgements about others. Just choose one thing. Keep going and make it a habit. You will be making yourself healthier and shaping your future.
Let me know how you get on.
There are more answers to questions like these and lots of health information to help you lead a happy and active life in my book Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health. Published by Bloomsbury and awarded First Place in the Popular Medicine category at the British Medical Association Medical Book Awards 2018.
Disclaimer: I can’t give personal medical advice and as always with health advice, reading something online doesn’t replace seeing your doctor who knows your medical history and can assess you in person. So, if you are unsure then always seek the opinion of a health care professional.