Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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Visceral fat is a particularly dangerous type of fat which clings to your abdominal organs. It’s not always visible, but high levels of visceral fat are linked to dangerous health conditions including heart disease and diabetes. Here’s how to tell if you have visceral fat, and the foods you should eat to lose it.
Jenaed Brodell, expert dietitian from Nutrition & Co, says: “Visceral fat is a type of body fat that’s stored within the abdominal cavity. It’s located near several vital organs, including the liver, stomach, intestines.
“Visceral fat can start causing health problems immediately. It can increase insulin resistance even if you’ve never had diabetes or prediabetes.
“Most importantly, carrying excess visceral fat increases your risk for developing several serious and life-threatening medical conditions.”
If you carry a lot of weight around your waist, you may have high levels of visceral fat.
Jenaed says: “For women, your risk of chronic disease is increased if the waist circumference is 80 centimetres or more and for men 94 centimetres or more.”
Although visceral fat is incredibly dangerous, the good news is because it is close to the liver, it is easy to burn.
And, despite what you may have heard, diet is much more effective than exercise at targeting this type of fat. So, even more good news: no more crunches.
Jenaed says: “Unfortunately, you can’t forcefully reduce fat around your belly no matter how many crunches you do.
“Saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars contribute heavily to our storage of fat.
“Firstly, try replacing sugar with healthy, natural sweeteners in moderation.
“Eating healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocados and walnuts, or fermented foods like kimchi, live yoghurt and miso can benefit your insulin balance, gut bacteria, hormones, and weight management.”
So, could these five popular foods help beat visceral fats? Jenaed shares her expert verdict.
1 – Oily Fish
Oily fish refers to fish including salmon, herring and sardines that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Jenaed says: “Absolutely yes! Omega 3 is cardio protective. The regular use of fish oil prevents inflammation due to the presence of fatty acids DHA and EPA.
“Prolonged inflammation or stress leads to weight gain. When you have fish oil then there will be no stress, and you will be able to shed off some pounds in no time.”
2 – Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is often touted as a ‘healthier’ alternative oil, but Jenaed warns it is high in saturated fat.
“Coconut oil largely consists of saturated fat (80% to 90% of fat in coconut oil is saturated), making it solid at room temperature.
“Too much saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol, increasing risks of heart disease and stroke.
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“The belief that this oil benefits weight loss is mainly based on the claim it may decrease hunger, as well as the fact coconut products contain specific fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs.
“Still, it’s important to note that, like all fats, coconut oil is high in calories. When trying to reach your desired weight, use it in small amounts to enhance the taste of your foods while keeping your calorie intake in check.”
So, coconut oil isn’t great for shedding weight or losing visceral fat, but a small amount for some glorious coconut flavour is no problem.
3 – Beans
Chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils: all are great low-calorie sources of fibre and protein.
Jenaed says: “Beans are high in fiber which aids satiety (feeling fuller for longer) and blood sugar control.”
It’s a thumbs up for beans.
4 – Yoghurt
Because of the live cultures in yoghurt, eating it can increase the levels of good bacteria in your gut.
Just make sure to choose a yoghurt that doesn’t have high levels of added sugar.
“Although high in saturated fats, there are many benefits such as probiotics , protein and calcium in yoghurt,” Jenaed adds.
5 – Eggs
Jenaed says: “Eggs are a great source of protein, which aids in satiety. This means you will stay full for a longer period of time.”
Just be careful not to cook with too much butter or oil when you enjoy your eggs, stick to olive oil and don’t use too much when cooking.
Boiled eggs are the lowest calorie option for enjoying eggs.
In addition to eating more of these foods, you’ll have to limit anything high in sugar and fat, including alcohol.
Jenaed says: “Refined sugar helps to raise the insulin level in the body which promotes the storage of fat.
“Minimise red meat consumption and decrease Alcohol consumption. Lastly, be wary of salty foods and refined carbohydrates.”
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