Belly fat isn’t just extra weight, it can be quite dangerous. There are many different types of fat in the body, so what is visceral fat? And how do you get rid of it? Express.co.uk chats to weight loss specialist and author of The Diet-Whisperer Dr Paul Barrington Chell to find out how to lose belly fat.
What is visceral fat?
There are two main types of fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
According to Dr Barrington Chell, the fat we see on our arms when we pinch our skin is called subcutaneous fat.
This fat is an insulator, protecting against knocks and bumps. It isn’t metabolically active.
Subcutaneous fat accounts for 18 percent of body weight in men and 24 percent in women.
Visceral fat is the second main type, and it’s also known as belly fat.
Dr Barrington Chell said: “This is not fat that we can ‘pinch’ as it lies between our belly button at the front, and the spine at the back.
“It pushes our belt size out from within. It accounts for about 10 percent of our total fat.”
READ MORE- The weekly amount of exercise you need to do to eliminate visceral fat
Of course, visceral fat is considered unappealing and uncomfortable for most people, but is it actually dangerous?
Dr Barrington Chell explained that visceral fat is “the really dangerous type of fat”.
He said it is metabolically active, producing more than 20 hormones itself.
He explained: “These hormones are exceptionally harmful to our health, causing long-term inflammation, metabolic syndrome, blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
“Ultimately, visceral fat causes us to die prematurely.
“Visceral fat occurs in 80 percent of people who are generally obese, but surprisingly in 20 percent of people who are clinically normal weight.
“This is particularly prevalent in the south Asian community.”
How do I know if I have visceral fat?
We can’t feel for visceral fat ourselves, so it can be tricky to know if you have it.
Dr Barrington Chell said: “If you are generally obese, there is an 80 percent chance you have, or will get, visceral fat.
“If you are apple shaped, then you should be checked.
“And if your belt size is increasing, you need to be investigated.”
Visceral fat is a problem on a pandemic scale, he said.
The UK is following closely behind the USA, where 80 percent of the adult population have visceral fat and metabolic problems.
Dr Barrington Chell recommends measuring your waist-to-hip ratio to check for visceral fat.
He advised: “Find your lowest rib and the top of the pelvic bone and measure around the belly halfway between them.
“Then measure your hips at the widest point and divide your waist by your hips and you get the W/H ratio.”
According to the WHO, men should have a ratio should be below 0.9 and women below 0.85.
If you want to simply measure your waist without the maths, that works too.
If you’re a man and your waist is over 37 inches or if you’re a woman and yours is more than 31 inches, you probably have visceral fat.
Get checked by your doctor for metabolic syndrome, because for every 1 inch of belly circumference from visceral fat, the risk of heart disease increases by 5 percent.
How to lose visceral fat: Diet to burn belly fat [INFORMER]
How to get rid of visceral fat: Eating plan to burn belly fat [EXPLAINER]
How to get rid of visceral fat: The best type of fat-busting exercise [INSIGHT]
How to lose belly fat
You’ll need to cut out the bad habits to lose belly fat. Dr Barrington Chell suggested:
- No super-refined carbohydrates (muffins, fizzy drinks, biscuits, fruit juices, breakfast bars and cereals, confectionery)-look around you: anyone eating or drinking these foods is likely to be overweight
- No refined carbohydrates or treat meal only (pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, anything with flour in it): Same as above, who is eating what?
- Eat a Mediterranean style diet; olive oil, fish, meat, and plants-nuts, seeds, vegetables, salads
- Watch people’s check out baskets in the supermarket, people with a healthy weight buy mostly plants, tend not to buy foods in packets and never buy sugary fizzy drinks
- Eat lots of fibre-eat plants
- Eat healthy fats-no trans fats, and aim for low omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (less than 4)
- Eat oily fish three times per week, or use omega-3 supplements
- Eat enough protein. You should aim for 0.9gm/kg. An average 80kg man will needs 72gms of protein = 2.4 chicken breasts
- Add green tea, apple cider vinegar, probiotic foods-kefir, cheeses from raw milk, live natural yoghurt, sugar-free kombucha, fermented vegetables (not picked in vinegar)
- No snacking
- No alcohol; if this is impossible for you, try alcohol without sugar, such as a Vodka and soda.
- Keep a food diary and track your food intake
- Weigh yourself every day; we know that weight and fat loss is more successful if you do this
- Set a weight or waist circumference target – people succeed more when they strive for goals. And dopamine is released, which makes you feel good
- Your genes determine your body fat composition to a large extent, but you can still exert a lot of influence
Diet plays a huge role in shedding visceral fat, but so does stress.
Dr Barrington Chell said: “Belly fat is mainly about our eating habits, but there are other factors too, that are easily overlooked.
“It is associated with stress and raised cortisol, sleep of a poor quality and less than 7 hours a night, and a sedentary lifestyle.”
Exercise is one of the ways you can de-stress, along with activities such as meditation, reading, going for a stroll, chatting with friends, and much more.
Exercise might help you lose weight but 99 percent of the problem is your diet.
Dr Barrington Chell said: “A lack of exercise generally is associated with increased belly fat.
“For 99% of human beings, it is physically impossible to exercise your way to a thin belly.
“Unless you are Bradley Wiggins, you should exercise for physical and mental wellbeing, but definitely not to lose belly fat. That has to come from your diet.
“Everyone has a six pack, but just like the seal, it cannot be seen through the blubber.
“Weightlifting and building muscle to lose weight are simply cons by the gym marketing departments; muscle accounts for only 15 percent of daily calorie burn; less calories burned than the brain at 20 percent.”