We know that the fat that we store in our body is not the same nor does it have the same characteristics according to its location. We all have some visceral fat, but some people can develop more, especially those with a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits.
Sometimes we talk about body fat, abdominal fat and visceral fat without making any kind of differentiation between one and the other. But the truth is that visceral fat, as opposed to peripheral or subcutaneous fat, has a greater impact on health. And there is some confusion when it comes to finding the best way to burn this or that type of fat so that we can find several “solutions” regarding the diet to follow and the necessary and specific exercises to eliminate it.
These large deposits of visceral fat are associated with serious health complications, such as cardiovascular problems, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Therefore, it is very important that we distinguish it from body fat or essential fat, which is one of the main components of our body, a source of energy that controls our body temperature, protects organs of our body and helps us in hormonal processes.
Where does it come from?
The body uses fat as food during periods of starvation, but if the amount of non-essential fat is too high it can negatively influence health, which is a result of the intake of high-calorie foods and little or no physical activity. Having visceral fat is completely normal but your deposits should be low. The increase in these fatty deposits can be due to several reasons, but the most common, we insist, is usually related to diets rich in fat and simple sugars together with a sedentary lifestyle.
Not doing physical exercise for long periods usually has a perverse effect that results in the storage of visceral fat more and more quickly. However, we are on time: a little activity can inhibit its development. Other factors directly related to lifestyles, such as lack of sleep or stress, also increase the risk of increasing this type of fat.
Age is also one of the main factors to gain visceral fat. As we get older we lose muscle mass and gain a higher percentage of body fat in general. This also affects energy consumption and the way our body burns calories, making it easier to accumulate fat. Hormonal changes also have a prominent role, particularly in postmenopausal women. And it is also true that some people have genetic factors that predispose them to develop more visceral fat than others even in a normal weight range.
Consequences on our health
As we have mentioned, visceral fat is associated with important negative effects on health, such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, hormonal imbalances and the increased risk of type 2 diabetes due to insulin resistance. It is also associated with higher levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, as well as an increased risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and colorectal cancer.
Abdominal fat deposits are more dangerous than peripheral fat because of their proximity to the main hepatic vein that carries blood to the liver from around the bowel. Substances excreted by fatty deposits, especially adipocytes, would pass into the bloodstream and reach the liver where they could be retained and affect blood levels of fat and cholesterol.
How can we lose visceral fat?
Losing visceral fat requires the combination of cardiovascular aerobic exercise and changes in dietary habits. So clear. We have to be aware that, being nonessential body fat, it is not necessary for vital functions.
It is recommended to practice at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, four days a week. This exercise can consist, to start, in a light gait and we can go increasing in intensity as we improve our physical form, until we dare with other fitness activities more fat burning.
With regard to diet, avoid sugary drinks, excess alcoholic beverages and products rich in simple carbohydrates. You also have to avoid high-fat foods, especially saturated fat. We recommend diets with a high content of fruits, vegetables, lean meat and high-fibre foods, such as whole grains. The dietary requirements of each person vary considerably and the best thing, without doubt, is to consult a nutritionist.
And, as the last recommendation, along with dietary measures and physical exercise, we should always rest enough and reduce stress as much as possible.