I recently had a rude awakening after I was asked to put my palms over one of those weighing machines at the health and wellness gym. I am by no means pudgy but it revealed that I had enough visceral fat that was considered alarming. Due to my lean figure, I had always assumed that I had steered clear away from obesity-related health risks like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart issues. Even though the fitness instructor downplayed the amount of visceral fat by explaining how most people my age have a high number, it still shocked me the same.
What Is Visceral Fat?
Unlike the fats that we see at common places like above our tummy and underneath our arms, visceral fat is a whole different ball game since it cannot be seen with the naked eye. To determine how much visceral fat you have, you would have to sit through an MRI or CT scan for a precise idea or the same machine that I was on to get an estimate on the amount of visceral fat you have. Unlike subcutaneous fat that can be observed based on larger waist circumference, those who appear thinner may even have layers of visceral fat hidden within their body.
Visceral fat gets a bad name because of how it builds up around our important organs like our intestines, livers and pancreas and that could cause serious health issues. This happens due to how visceral fat is known to be active and has the ability to impose harmful effects on our hormonal function. In particular, visceral fat can block insulin and cause us to have an intolerance to glucose, which could be very dangerous and bring about diabetes.
What Brings About Visceral Fat?
Guess what, all of us have some form of visceral fat within us, but for others, it is a lot more and it comes down to several different factors. A large factor is done to a carbo-heavy diet as it leads us to obesity. Chronic stress is also another such factor since it activates our neurotransmitter and hormone cortisol to trigger the fight or flight response and that tells the body to store more visceral fat. You must have heard about genetics playing a part in how our body stores fats and it is true — you will see that the ratio of visceral fat to subcutaneous fat differs from individuals. Lastly, our hormones are also known to play a part in it as well. When you frequently experience stress, it ramps up the accumulation of visceral fat.
How To Drop Visceral Fat
There are of course many different ways in which we can stop visceral fat from gathering like acorns beneath our skin. Read on to find out more on how to lose that stubborn visceral fat.
It has been uncovered that the practice of avoiding food entirely at certain times might be great for your body since it radically reduces the amount of visceral fat we have and boosts up our adiponectin levels to help with insulin sensitivity. We are not making these numbers up but a study revealed that subjects who were on an intermittent diet lost around 4-7% of their visceral fat between six and 24 weeks. That is some motivation there for you to get started! How intermittent fasting works is to cycle between periods of eating and abstaining from food entirely. A common fasting schedule is the 16 to 8 method. Here you consume all the calories you need in that 8 hours and maintain a no-calorie period for the last 16 hours that make up the day.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Working out helps with losing visceral fat, but high-intensity interval training (HIIT), that is the workout that will kick visceral fat in the bum since it ramps up the fat-burning benefits in the shortest possible time. What HIIT does is to put your body through bursts of intense activity like sprinting or exercises like squats or lunges within a short time frame. As compared to the normal workouts, you burn fat and build muscle at an accelerated speed. It may not feel comfortable while you are doing it, but it would improve your insulin sensitivity and boost your metabolism when you are resting.
A High-Fat Low-Carb Diet
If you have heard of the keto diet, you must be familiar with the concept of a high-fat and low-carb diet. What that consists of are meals that are high in healthy fats (like avocados, oily fish and nuts), low in carbohydrates (noodles, bread, rice). This would alter your body’s way of burning for fuel as your body burns fat instead of carbs in this process. To do so, you would have to drop your intake of carbs to around 60 grams a day for your body to recognise the switch. You can be assured that your visceral fat will be targeted in the absence of glucose.