Fat has gotten a bad rap over the years. For decades, advertising was filled with articles about the benefits of the low-fat content of food as a way to sell products. We were taught that fat was bad and that was that. In more recent times though, the balance has come back into research. The shocking visceral fat inducing effects of a high sugar diet became more evident, while at the same time, fat underwent a bit of a reformation and has finally reclaimed its place in the healthy food books.
The role of “healthy fats” found in avocados, nuts, fish, butter, and olive oil has become better understood as being crucial to overall health as part of a healthy diet plan, while saturated fats and trans fats have been limited and banned in several countries. Understanding the role that different food plays in your health is the most important factor when you’re trying to get rid of visceral fat.
How to Get Rid of Visceral Fat Effectively
The first thing to accept is that visceral fat is stubborn and hard to move. Following any one of the tips below might work for you. Equally, it might take a combination of all of them to see results.
If visceral fat can be caused by a high carbohydrate, low nutrient diet, it makes sense that the opposite might have beneficial effects. In fact, many of the “modern” diet trends of recent years such as the paleo diet and the ketogenic diet are based on this simple principle of lower carbohydrate intake. This naturally means that your proportion of fats and protein consumed will increase as a result.
At a minimum, restricting processed carbohydrates like biscuits, cakes, and pasta is a simple way to start down this path.
Intermittent fasting has gotten a lot of interest of late, popularized by several TV specials and books. Fasting helps accelerate the process of your body consuming the fat stores it is holding in reserve for a “rainy day” and also increases levels of the hormone that regulates fat storage.
When it comes to gym workouts and how to get rid of visceral fat, High-intensity interval training or HIIT is the key. HIIT is based on a reasonably simple premise: short, intense bursts of activity that repeatedly raise the heart rate get far better results than a lower intensity activity such as jogging.
And that’s it, really. In order to shift hidden belly fat you need to eat fewer carbohydrates in place of more protein and fat, and start doing some form of HIIT training combined with weightlifting a few times a week. There’s no secret hack, no magic supplement. Just smart choices and hard work.
Visceral Fat vs. Subcutaneous Fat – What’s the Difference?
This context is important for understanding where visceral fat sits on the body. Visceral fat is very clearly on the “bad fat” side of the ledger. But, unlike the fats listed above, it is not consumed in our food. Instead, it is the kind of fact that accumulates on the body.
There are two primary types of fat in the body:
Subcutaneous fat is simply the medical term for fat that is stored under the skin. This is spread pretty much everywhere throughout the body from the top of your arms to the bottom of your legs.
Visceral fat is different in that it is not just beneath the skin. Instead, visceral fat sits deep within the body and is packed around your internal organs like a layer of insulation. Some visceral fat is necessary and healthy, as it helps support several critical bodily functions including your immune system. However, excess visceral fat is bad for your health and can cause a number of problematic symptoms.
What Causes Your Body to Store Visceral Fat?
In three simple words, the cause of modern obesity could be broken down to “the western diet”. Carbohydrate-dense diets made up of white bread, pasta, pizza, cereals made from flour, and sugary drinks are all factors in the build-up of visceral fat. That’s because these foods are far more energy-dense than we actually need to function. In fact, a single box of pizza coupled with a soft drink can contain all for the calories we need for an entire day.
Diet alone isn’t the only cause. A little stress is normal and part of life, like the kind you feel when you run for the bus or get stuck in traffic. But uncontrolled stress that continues long-term can have consequences for how your body stores energy. In particular, it can activate a part of your brain that causes the release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can trigger your body to store more visceral fat.
Finally, genetics and the makeup of your body (height and dimensions) also contribute to how likely a middle-aged man is to build up visceral fat. In some good news, healthy levels of sex hormones (testosterone in males) and growth hormone can help prevent visceral fat, and both can be supported with a gym workout plan and a healthy diet plan.
So Why The Fuss? Is It Really That Bad?
Apart from being the reason that men find it hard to get abs over 40, why is visceral fat bad? Well, the first thing to realize is it’s not just those guys with some extra fat around the midsection that are at risk. In fact, visceral fat can be present even in men who are outwardly thin.
The most concerning negative impact of visceral fat is its link to insulin resistance. Once insulin resistance begins in the body, it becomes far more likely that that person will develop type 2 diabetes. And in turn, those with type 2 diabetes are far more at risk of truly nasty conditions like hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attacks.
Visceral Fat & Hormones
The other major negative effect of excessive visceral fat is that it messes with the hormones in your body that regulates how much fat you store. Visceral fat acts like a suppressant on this particular hormone, basically turning it into the “off” position. That then gives your body the green light to store more fat. So the cycle becomes an intensely negative one: visceral fat messes with the hormones that limit fat storage, causing you to store more fat.
In your bloodstream, visceral fat also has negative associations. High levels of visceral fat correlate with lower “good” cholesterol levels and higher “bad” cholesterol levels. So while visceral fat might not necessarily be the cause of these factors, it is a useful indicator that the fat you can see is a warning light about what might be going on at the microscopic level within your body.
And of course, there’s the vanity angle. Visceral fat in men, and men over 40 specifically, is mostly stored in the midsection. The “dad bod” and “beer belly” are both manifestations of how this occurs as we age.