Who doesn’t want a flat, perfectly toned belly? Let’s say you are able to get that. But do you know that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have fat in your belly? Unlike the pinchable kind you can feel, there is a hidden and dangerous kind wrapped around your organs. This is the visceral fat. Here is what you need to know about it, its health impact and what to do about it:
What is visceral fat?
The fat around your belly that is pinchable is called subcutaneous fat. It is found right beneath the skin. Beneath this fat is the abdominal muscles that we can strengthen with all those ab workouts. And beneath that is visceral fat, which wraps our vital organs such as the intestines, liver and pancreas. As per Harvard Health, about 10% of total body fat is visceral fat. Those who have a flat tummy yet fat in their body are sometimes referred to as TOFI, which is short for thin-outside-fat-inside.
How to measure visceral fat?
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Since it is deep inside your body, it is impossible to measure visceral fat without a scan. However, there are certain hacks, like measuring your waist with a tape. Waist size over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men might mean visceral fat storage in the abdomen. However, this can be misleading as waist size varies as per body size and ethnicity and there’s no one size fits all.
You can also get an idea about this hidden fat by calculating BMI (body mass index). If it is 25 or more, it means you are overweight and that above 30 means you are obese. This could mean a high amount of visceral fat in your belly. But these are just hacks and the amount of visceral fat can only be determined through scans, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Dangers of visceral fat
Found near our vital organs, visceral fat can increase the risk for several diseases. It can make you susceptible to heart diseases, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Hence, it is necessary to shed this fat.
How to shed visceral fat?
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You don’t need to do anything special to reduce the visceral fat accumulation in your body. Here is what you can do:
- Exercise: Working out regularly and having an active lifestyle can help you shed visceral fat. But do remember there should be a mix of cardiovascular exercises and strength training. You can brisk walk, cycle, jog, lift weights, and/or do Yoga.
- Nutrition: Food is the key to losing fat. Studies have shown that calcium and vitamin D do wonder against visceral fat. So include dairy products, green leafy vegetables and fish in your diet.
- Stress: This is believed to be a major factor behind visceral fat accumulation. During stress, your body releases the hormone cortisol that signals your body to store visceral fat. Hence it is important to manage stress to manage this hidden fat. You can do meditation, do Yoga or practice breathing exercises to manage stress.
Try these simple things and protect yourself from accumulating visceral fat.
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