5 Ways to Impact Visceral Fat
When you were growing up you may have only been taught about fat, also known as adipose tissue, as a blanket term, and you were likely told to have as little of it as possible.
Nowadays being able to differentiate between the two types of adipose tissue: subcutaneous and visceral, is game-changing for your long-term health. Subcutaneous is likely what you first think of when you imagine fat: the stuff you can pinch on your body. Subcutaneous fat is crucial for providing insulation, energy storage, and hormonal function and is needed in some quantity for all - especially women. Your brain even needs fat to utilize your nervous system!
But there is a plethora of new research talking about the potential adverse effects of having too much visceral fat. According to Harvard Medical School visceral fat is more of a health concern than subcutaneous fat. But why? Let’s get into it.
Visceral fat lies below your abdominal wall and collects around your organs. It is also what scientists call metabolically or biologically active.
Research shows that all fat cells, particularly visceral fat cells, function similarly to an endocrine organ. That means they play a key role in hormone secretion. So, when they are out of whack, it can have far-reaching consequences in some unexpected places. Imagine that your menstrual cycle, your digestion, and even your mood are all regulated by hormones.
Other important implications of higher visceral fat could include an increase in the risk of breast cancer, asthma, colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. Visceral fat also releases cytokines, which can negatively impact blood clotting, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressure. [Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance].
Scientists at Yale suggest that there is a link between cortisol and visceral fat. Cortisol, the stress hormone, affects how fat is distributed around the central organs. Exposure to the hormone has been shown to increase visceral fat in some animals.
Managing stress both physiological and physical is crucial. For many folks, a visceral fat weight of 0 pounds is achievable. Keeping the goal beneath one pound would be a healthful goal to achieve. But how to reduce what you’ve got, or prevent accumulating more?
Solutions for Reducing VAT
Eat non-processed foods.
Eating whole foods as often as possible is a powerful tool in your arsenal against stress belly fat. Whole foods are less likely to cause an inflammatory response, and the extra fiber has been shown to correlate with lower VAT.
Manage your stress.
Having a healthy outlet for the stress we encounter with our jobs, our relationships, and our family is important. How you discharge life’s stress is up to you- whether you like painting or getting out for a walk with a good podcast, or spending time in nature. Create time for yourself to center on what makes you feel good.
Sleep deeply and enough.
Getting adequate sleep is crucial, it allows your body the necessary rest it needs to fully recover from the rigors of the day.
Avoid alcohol and cigarettes.
Cigarettes have been shown to correlate with increased adiposity around the midsection. As for alcohol, you don’t need to be a teetotaler to have a balanced lifestyle. However, overconsumption of alcohol can result in what is colloquially known as a beer gut. Aiming to reduce your alcoholic drinks per week is a fantastic way to tackle unhealthful belly fat.
The jury is in. Experts agree that exercise from 30-60 minutes a day can dramatically reduce your risk of adverse health effects. This is especially relevant when concerning fat- both subcutaneous and visceral! Not to mention all the other yummy side effects like boosted mood, lower blood pressure, and increased stamina and endurance.
Monitoring visceral fat and making it a goal of reducing it as much as you can is a superb health goal. Get a DEXA scan to receive personalized data that tracks over time. It’s significantly more accurate than going how your jeans feel or measuring waist circumference.
So, what are you waiting for? Book a DEXA scan with us to know where you stand when it comes to Visceral Fat!