Visceral fat, often called “belly fat,” is more than a cosmetic concern. It is a type of fat that accumulates around the internal organs in the abdominal cavity, such as the intestines, stomach, and liver. Sometimes, it can pose significant health risks and should not be underestimated.

Excess visceral fat is a significant risk factor for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and hypertension. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is crucial to reducing visceral fat.

Understanding Visceral Fat

There are two types of body fat: brown fat and white fat.

White fat can be categorized into subcutaneous, visceral, and ectopic fat.

Visceral fat accumulates when calorie intake exceeds physical activity levels. Unlike subcutaneous fat, located beneath the skin, visceral fat is found deep within the abdominal cavity, surrounding vital organs.

Impact on Heart Health

Visceral fat is necessary for storing excess energy but also produces hormones and inflammatory substances. 

Over time, these hormones can contribute to chronic inflammation, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Chronic inflammation can lead to the formation of plaques within the arteries, potentially blocking blood flow and causing heart attacks or organ damage.

Measuring Visceral Fat

To measure visceral fat, the following information must be taken into account:

  • Waist circumference is a standard method of assessing visceral fat.
  • Medium cardiometabolic risk is associated with waist circumference values above 94 cm in men and 80 cm in women.
  • High risk is indicated by values above 102 cm in men and 88 cm in women.
  • Other methods to measure visceral fat include waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index (BMI).

When to Seek Specialist Advice

Consulting a specialist is relevant when visceral fat levels reach medium and high-risk thresholds.

Significant amounts of visceral fat may indicate markers of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

Seek specialist advice if threshold values are reached to prevent complications.

Reducing Visceral Fat: Lifestyle Factors

To reduce visceral fat, it is essential to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes:

  • Quitting smoking;
  • Maintaining a balanced diet;
  • Engaging in regular exercise;
  • Getting sufficient sleep;
  • Reducing stress levels;
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

The Role of Nutrition in Reducing Visceral Fat

Nutrition plays a critical role in preventing and reducing visceral fat.

The mother’s nutritional status during pregnancy may influence the susceptibility to obesity and related diseases in the child. Also, a fiber-rich diet with a solid plant-based component is essential.

Choose fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plant proteins.

Limit consumption of fatty foods, fried foods, alcohol, processed meats, sugary drinks, and refined products.

By following these guidelines and making positive lifestyle changes, it is possible to reduce visceral fat and improve overall health.