Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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Visceral fat gathers near vital organs in the body, such as the liver and intestines. Its location means it forms one part of metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions, including diabetes – that raise your risk of heart disease. Research has alighted upon some novel solutions for reducing belly fat, including changing your approach to sleeping.
Research published in the journal Obesity investigated the relationship between changes in sleep duration and long-term visceral fat changes in adults.
A study was conducted on 293 participants, aged 18-65 years, over the course of six years.
In the final year, sleep duration was self-reported and visceral fat was assessed using computed tomography (CT).
CT scan uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body.
The researchers found that people increasing sleep from six hours or less to seven to eight hours reduced visceral fat gain by roughly 26 percent.
Other studies have identified an association between sleep duration and visceral fat gain.
A five-year study found “extremes of sleep duration” associated with visceral fat gain.
Specifically, getting less than six hours of sleep and logging more than eight hours was associated with increases of visceral fat.
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This trend was only observed in participants under the age of 40 years of age.
General tips for reducing visceral fat
There is no single approach that will deal a decisive blow to visceral fat. Rather, it is your overall commitment to a healthy lifestyle that counts.
Eating well is integral to this effort is to improve your approach to eating.
“If you want to reduce your belly fat, you’ll need to burn more calories (energy) than you consume, and eat the right kinds of food,” explains Bupa.
According to the health body, trying to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg each day, and include higher-fibre starchy foods in meals, can help to achieve this.
Other key tips include:
- Have some reduced-fat dairy or soya drinks fortified in calcium
- Eat more beans, pulses, fish and eggs
- Eat small amounts of unsaturated oil
- Drink six to eight glasses of water each day
- Avoid adding salt or sugar to your meals.
Protein can also be a helpful way to lose weight because it makes you feel fuller than carbs and fat do, notes Bupa.
“So if you include a lean source of protein, such as skinless white chicken, in your meals you may find that you’re not as hungry, and so eat less.”
Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.
The other key component to visceral fat reduction is to engage in regular physical exercise.
“Studies have shown that you can help trim visceral fat or prevent its growth with both aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) and strength training (exercising with weights),” reports Harvard Health.
According to the health body, spot exercises, such as sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles but won’t get at visceral fat.
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