There’s an epidemic in Western countries, and one few people are aware of. It’s an epidemic of visceral fat, a deep kind of fat that packs around vital organs, like the liver, and is linked with health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
You might assume that only people who are overweight or obese have too much visceral fat, but that’s not the case. Thin people, particularly inactive ones and older individuals, can have enough visceral fat to increase their risk of chronic health problems. They may look thin, but they’re not healthy because they have too much visceral fat and other markers of bad health.
Although it’s not easy to trim down visceral fat, science shows there are ways to reduce your body’s visceral fat burden and improve your health simultaneously.
Signs of Excess Visceral Fat
How do you know if you’re tipping the scales in terms of visceral fat? One sign you’re carrying too much visceral fat is your waist size. If your waist is larger than half your height, you have too much visceral fat.
For example, a person who is five feet six inches, or 66 inches, should have a waist size less than 33 inches. In general, guidelines say a waist size over 35 inches in men and 30 inches in women is a marker of too much visceral fat.
In reality, the only way to know how much visceral fat you have is by doing an imaging study. But waist size is still a good marker, so check your waist size with a tape measure at least once per month and record the value.
If your waist size shows you have too much visceral fat, what can you do about it?
Eat More Fiber
Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system. This can help you feel fuller longer and reduce the number of calories you absorb from other foods. Plus, fiber helps with blood glucose control.
One way to reduce visceral fat is by consuming more fiber-rich foods. Fiber is the part of plant foods that your body can’t digest, so it helps you feel full longer and keeps your digestive system healthy. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (like beans and lentils).
Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also substantial sources of soluble and insoluble fibers and they’re nutrient-rich. They also have many other health benefits such as being anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich, which helps protect against cardiovascular disease and other chronic health problems. Non-starchy vegetables, lentils, beans, tree nuts, seeds, and whole grains are other rich sources of fiber.
Stress increases cortisol, a stress hormone that increases visceral fat. When your body produces too much cortisol, it shifts where your body stores fat to your mid-section and boosts deeper visceral fat. Make sure you’re not letting chronic stress take control of your life and health. Reduce stress levels with mind-body activities like yoga and meditation, going for a nature walk, or taking a hot bath.
Focus on Quality Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to health and wellness. Many people don’t realize how important sleep is for immune health, brain function, and more. Plus, numerous studies show lack of sleep increases the stress hormone cortisol and boosts visceral fat.
One study showed that people who slept for 5 hours or less per night had more visceral fat than those who slumbered 7 hours or more per night. So aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night to keep visceral fat in check. Plus, not sleeping enough increases the appetite hormone ghrelin, so you crave sugary foods and eat more. As you gain weight from eating sugary foods, your body stores some of it as visceral fat. Make sure you get at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night.
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
One way to reduce visceral fat is to cut back on sugar, another contributor to visceral fat. Beware! Sugar is in most ultra-processed foods and beverages, even fruit juice. It also shows up in foods high in fat — like candy and ice cream — and those high in carbs, such as bread and pasta. It’s everywhere!
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that sugars should make up less than 10% of your total energy intake each day. This means if you eat 2,000 calories a day, no more than 200 calories should come from sugar. How can you lower your sugar intake to get a handle on visceral fat?
Replace sugary beverages with plain water. Soda and fruit drinks are loaded with sugar. If you drink at least one sweetened beverage a day, replacing those calories with water could save you hundreds of calories each week. Plus, studies show that sugar-sweetened beverages are major contributors to visceral fat.
Know where sugar hides. It’s in everything from ketchup and salad dressing to bread, pasta, and yogurt. You might not realize how much sugar you’re consuming until you start counting grams. The best way to do this is by keeping a food diary for a few days.
Read labels carefully. This can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it if you want to know exactly what’s in the food you’re eating. Pay special attention to ingredients listed at the end of a list — these are things manufacturers add for flavor or texture, so they’re often full of added sugars. Even better, avoid packaged foods entirely!
Stay Physically Active With Exercises that Work Large Muscle Groups
Physical activity is a must if you’re trying to tame visceral fat. You’ll get the most benefits by performing exercises that work large muscle groups, like those in your lower body. These larger muscles burn more calories and fat and affect hormones that regulate weight and blood sugar control more. Focus on squats, deadlifts, and dynamic exercises like running or cycling.
Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and reduces inflammation in the body, which can help with weight loss and loss of visceral fat. You can lower visceral fat by staying physically active with exercises that work large muscle groups.
Walking is the most common form of exercise people do, but you’ll gain more benefits by adding hills and short periods of higher-intensity exercise like walking as briskly as possible.
But don’t ignore the benefits of strength training. Focus on exercises that work the large muscles in your lower body, such as squats and deadlifts, for the most return on your time investment.
The takeaway here is that healthy lifestyle changes can help you tame visceral fat. If you’re already doing these things, keep it up and be patient. You can monitor your progress by checking your waist size weekly and seeing if it’s shrinking.
- “How to Get Rid of Visceral Fat – Healthline.” 22 August 2017, healthline.com/nutrition/lose-visceral-fat.
- “The Effect of Exercise on Visceral Adipose Tissue in Overweight Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” by Dirk Vissers, Wendy Hens, Jan Taeymans, Jean-Pierre Baeyens, Jacques Poortmans and Luc Van Gaal, 8 February 2013, PLOS ONE.
- “Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is associated with visceral fat in children” by Claire Gallagher, George Moschonis, Katrina A. Lambert, Eva Karaglani, Christina Mavrogianni, Stavroula Gavrili, Yannis Manios and Bircan Erbas, 19 August 2020, British Journal of Nutrition.
- “The Effects of Fiber on Visceral Fat”by Yoona Kim, 11 January 2019, Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Abdominal Obesity (Second Edition).
Give me a healthy diet. I weigh 374 lbs and would love to loose 100 lbs.i
Your are the best advisors of all, thanks. Keep it up.
Careful the sugar recommendations are for free sugars not total sugars.
The recommendations are out of order. Eliminating processed sugar should be number one. If you do that, sleep gets better, cortisol drops, weight is lost, exercise gets easier, etc.
There’s a news. Eat less sugar, workout more, sleep better, don’t be stressed… Now everyone will get fit.
Hey Paul. The article just gave some very good guidelines for you to follow, why don’t you get started and stop asking for things to be made easier for you. That’s probably why you’re overweight in the first place.
@Paul- I have been regularly listening to the Ben Greenfield Life podcast & have gained so much better understanding of healthy practices & would encourage you to check it out. His website is bengreenfieldlife.com.
Doing the right “small” things as an easily doable daily routine will produce remarkable consistent positive results over time. God bless you- I am excited for your progress!
Maybe if people didn’t have to work long hours in or often having long commutes this wouldn’t be getting out of control. About the best I can do is work on diet and exercise, but can’t avoid job related stress or often it’s impact on my sleep schedule.
These are the things that work for me: Get a walking buddy and commit to walk every day. Next, decrease red meat consumption and throw out all snacky food and drinks from your fridge and pantry – don’t have junk food in the house! Finally, don’t eat out or order in. There are lots of healthy recipes that can be found online. Do some research to find recipes that appeal to you. Have a friendly competition with a buddy to reduce weight.
Hey Anthony, at least Paul is an honest person seeking solutions to his problem. Good luck with yours, going to take some major changes for you to find happiness and peace.
Diets don’t work. It took me 35 years of losing 50 lbs and gaining 60 to realize that a program like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, keto or fasting was not going to save me.
I had to change my behavior and I had to do it one step at a time. I decided to eat fruit every day. One serving of fruit and I was done. I constantly reminded myself that I met my goal and deserved to feel good about it (to counteract my inner critic’s constant negativity). After about 3 weeks, eating fruit became a normal part of my day: a habit.
My next goal was lean protein, then veggies, then a 5 minute walk… I probably averaged 1 small change each month.
My weight loss was slow and steady. After a couple of years I lost 100 lbs and gained a positive attitude and a lot of healthy habits. That was 15 years ago, so it seems sustainable…
Covid vaccines were backed by “science” too. The “science” isn’t too inspiring anymore.
I was able to eliminate my visceral fats in 2013 with a 90-day program. From 180 lbs to 157 lbs then waistline from 36″ to 32″. The program is a life changer because it taught me the right approach to eating meals and the portions. Who says you have to go hungry or diet to reduce weight? Because of this program, I was able to maintain fit upto now.
Help me I have 4 heart conditions plus edemia. I can barely walk my lungs are filling with fluid because of this. I am miserable my weight has gone way up I’ve hit a high I’ve NEVER SEEN IN MY LIFE I’ve been hospitalized twice in the last 2 months my weight comes down around 30 #s but that’s it. Then it starts right back up water weight they call it puff huff I am disgusted. I only feel like resting and sleeping and drinking my water. That they have restricted me on so I’m always thirsty. My weight keeps going up. Oh I have gastro intestinal bleeding too an ulcer in my stomach and bleeding hemorrhoids inside and out. My blood work is bad I’m very anemic and undernourished. Now what help fatty
Hi helping Fatty.😊
You’re not alone ,I dont have as many disorders as you. But , I do have heart issues along with COPD, Sleep apnea and rheumatoid arthritis .
I am the very same. I watch what I eat( calorie count is under 1800) I grow my own vegetables and chickens , rabbits and turkey for meat , and I don’t eat much fast food as I live in a rural setting, I however dont walk or exercise much but with all the walking I do in a day, I figure its enough ( over 10,000 steps daily) I’m on very high doses of lasix, and I still have severe edema, wake up gurgling and always short of breath due to the fluid build up in the belly area and lungs.
This year my weight too has increased up into 300lbs, I struggle to take it off.
It’s funny that doctors will ask you to eat better and exercise more, you can try, but no matter how much you decrease your calorie count or how much you excercise nothing seems to help.
Its frustrating to no end , exspecially when you try hard to feel better .
My prayers go out to you in this struggle . Try to start doing some exercises while seated every day for about 10 mins . Leg lifts . Arm lifts . Patting your body firmly to aid your circulation . Make this a regular habit . Eat more green vegetables with protein and leave out all carbohydrates and all processed foods . Soon the benefits of fresh foods with protein the size of yours closed fist will bring you healing. All the best
This article is missing information about people in perimenopause and menopause and how hormone changes impact visceral fat and health risks that result.
The other things missing from this “science” it what chronic pain and acute depression does to the body. If being healthy, was only about eating right, exercise and sleep. I can sleep 22 hours a day, not eat a thing and drink water and I’m still fat, unhealthy, in pain and even more depressed.
Surprised that alcohol isn’t mentioned. As much as I love wines I thought they were a big contributor to an excessive waistline, no?
I was eating beans and green veggies only for 8 weeks, no sweet , no soda,no meat no bread. 500 calories a day, walked 5 miles every day.Did 100 sit ups every day. My stomach is the same size. Dose people who write all dose food tips are making crap up just to have something to write. No education in fitness health.If you wann get rid off stomach fet you need to get liposuction and tummi tac surgery. Period!!!
Paul you need to check out the keto/carnivore diet. Do your research but I can tell you first hand it works
I haven’t gained any substantial weight until I hit 50. Now I have a BMI of 30.I currently weigh in at 200 + , I’m 5″10 and I’m moderately active.nmy personal goal is to lose 25 pound’s by the end of September 2023. Wish me luck
I pray for all who struggle with losing weight and being healthy. I think we should support each other and be positive. Peoples honest tips are appreciated. Negative ones aren’t… Don’t give up or in to the negative stuff… We’re all in this life together… Hugs 🤗 to y’all
1 month ago I decided to eat for the nourishment of my body. Before I eat anything I ask myself is this good for you? Will it nourish you? If the answer is no, I don’t eat it. So far the weight loss is incredible!
There are two reasons why this formula right here isn’t working. Number one is not enough time even though there’s 24 hours in a day we only have 12 of that to work with. You don’t have the schedule. That is why this situation is out of control and it only works for people who have this time and it’s horrible setup against man kind to allow these companies to come in was all this s***tiest food that the chemicals and the compounds and the Composites of the food has made everybody obese and sick. All good deeds will be blessed and surely our evil Deeds will have their day too. Look at all the people who have expired from this this will not go unpunished. But the main focus is these doctors are not handling this situation correctly. After anybody that has been diagnosed with diabetes. After 5 years of diagnosis cannot get the weight off it’s because of time and should be put on a prairie disability these doctors are not treating this situation correctly. If anybody in this world is like me soon as you get up you’re running not to go run not to be able to cook something healthy but to get up to go to work and when you come home you’re coming home late at night you have a few minutes in between to walk your pets straighten up your house a little bit or not at all and you go there’s no time. So the only reason why this formula right freaking Hair Works it’s because you have that time and you have that money. But if you’re poor and you’re working all the time you don’t you don’t even have time to cook you don’t even have time to correct meals you don’t have time to do s*** but you get up and go to work and I’m sick of all this BS fake a** s***. These people are not dealing with this situation correctly thousands of lives are being lost because of their inadequacy. It is a pandemic this is a pandemic. And when doctors realize that you don’t have the time the first thing they should work on is getting you temporarily disabled so you can get out there and get healed and get back the way you were but they’re not doing it they don’t give a rat’s ass. These doctors can tell you to this and do that and every time you go to the doctor and they say why haven’t you done it I don’t have the time when they realize that they need to disable you this is a medical emergency and they’re not so I’m really sick of the big f***ing bs. That is why you’re having the problems that you’re having with this pandemic in America because it is not being dealt with correctly
I didn’t have time to do this. And that’s why this formula is not working for people who work 12 hours. So I don’t know how you’re going to fix this but if you had diabetes for over 5 years and you cannot get it under control it should automatically be considered a emergency just like any other physical health issue you get time to fix it and recover. This is not being handled correctly and this formula right here is only for the people who have this time otherwise everybody else is s*** out of luck. This is only facts because this is what I’ve lived. I’ve tried this formula Weight Watchers all of that it doesn’t work if you don’t have the time and the things pre-made salads in the store or full of parasites and then it’s not clean you take your eating healthy and you eating a bunch of damn parasites because it’s not clean and then y’all wonder why everything is the way it is some of these stores should have a open salad buffet so people can get clean salad not full of parasites been sitting there in dirty water full of parasites diabetes is more than just diabetes it’s also a parasitic infection and these people are not addressing this correctly. I’m not a doctor but I should be I act like I have more sense to damn doctors they are not diagnosing this stuff correctly diabetes is just more than sugar it’s a parasitic infection of yeast is a parasite itching all over these are different types of parasites one doctors at least professionals and all these people are not treating this accordingly like you’re dumb and you’re stupid and you don’t read, and most people are not doing self study and you need to it’s your life on the freaking line so this formula right here is only for people who have the time now what about people who don’t have the time you can’t tell me to make time when there’s no time am sick sick of the BS
I’d recommend not following fad diets as they can be harmful, don’t help with weight loss in the long-term, or simply don’t work for an individual. Instead, go and see a registered dietician to figure out what works for you.
To Mario Livaja,
You’re not going to see results in 8 weeks by doing all you described. First of all 500 calories a day is WAAAAAAY too low for most adults, 1800-2000 calories depending on weight and height is more reasonable for an adult male. You should get a calorie counter app that will tell you how many calories you need to consume to lose weight.
Second of all you need a BALANCED DIET. That means a combination of carbs, fruits, veggies and protein. Also, you’re starving your body and it’s probably going into panic mode holding onto all the fat and muscle now that you’re not eating which is making it harder to lose weight.
Third of all, there’s no such thing as spot reduction. Doing hundreds of ab workouts a day isn’t going to give you abs. The most it’ll do is strengthen your core which you should continue doing. You need to work out your whole body and that includes doing a combination of cardio and strength training exercises to lose weight.
Unfortunately the belly fat is usually the last to go but that doesn’t mean you should stop.
Please for the love of g-d do not follow Mario’s workout
Stop allowing the manufacture of our death by supplying it. Period.
Cut out ALL OILS, dairy and REFINED sugars. Eat more raw food
I like your strategy. I need to try that. As nothing else has worked for me. 20 yeears of slow gains 5 to 15 and now I have over 100 to lose. I just know if I have enough time left.
Exercise just enough to make you feel better ,not to kill yourself don’t over do it. No sugar, pies, cakes, breads, milk, butter, cookies, or candy. No fat food like meats. No late snacks before bed time. Also No beer.
I would be willing to try this if the program was described in detail and the costs were presented in total – rather than by the day. Programs that are NOT upfront about these details indicate to me that they have something to hide. Providing “click bait” reports of research is also a clear sign of “gottchas”. As a researcher myself, this program makes a lot of promises and goes out of its way to hide details supporting claims.
I don’t want to read a ton of BS. Just get to the point and be upfront about the program.
I do all of these things,and I’m 61 inches tall with a 34 waist. I’m skinny as a rail, yet I’m almost to the point of too much visceral fat??
I mean 71 inches tall lol.
Check out Volume Eating and Eat cheap and healthy
Sugar will be my undoing. I have no desire to control it or reduce my intake of it. Yet I am unhappily overweight. What to do?
I suppose I will just have to get some self control building skills. Eay less, do more and do it with the knowledge that I am not going to SEE a difference before I FEEL a difference. Your attitude is going to get a boost from the endorphin release which is no small potatoes….pardon the high carb pun. That attitude boost is essential to recognize and hold stock in while physical changes catch up. This phase could discourage most efforts as non effective but trust when I say that there is NO EASY WAY!! Nothing good comes easy and hard work is still the only way to succeed!
There is no substitute for HARD WORK!! Your gonna want to quit before you get started if you seek immediateb validation from the scale or mirror. Your receptors have to be on ultra high alert to benefit from the natural endorphin release you will experience from just a couple of days of healthy routine. Remember only YOU can be honest with yourself, and truthfully sticking to a diet of unprocessed foods, no snacks beyond a cucumber or ice water, and portion control at each meal setting. Add to this your increased physical activity and endorphins are going to easily take priority to the dopamine release experienced during snack time. Addiction has many faces, none so easily misperceived as a lifestyle than obesity. Excess drugging, drinking and sexing are all addictions, food is no different. The lengths people go to hide consumption, the feeling of dread when its time to shop for clothing or go out in public are the equivalent of being put through a series of judgements by not just people or businesses, but society as a whole. Seems to me that its up to each and every one of us to find our inspiration, seize the opportunity and don’t look back. The human mind is the most powerful tool at our disposal, and making a choice is never easy, dedication to that choice is even harder still. I assure you with each minute that passes it will get easier. Each hour that passes will forego to days and days to weeks, you see no change in the mirror or scale, but you notice that you can breath easier, use the bathroom “differently”, and just have more spring in your step. Thats the endorphins and your senses kicking your self esteem in the rump, and for the first time in a long time, your eyes may not see what your body is up to, but your brain does. Soon after your skin will begin to melt, like a snow man from the head down. All the non sense you hear from dieters about how they lose weight from they’re feet first is snake oil, the body will burn from the top down, and blood flow is a big contributing variable, so break out the yoga mats, get in touch with your toes, and breathe that beautiful oxygen all you can before we inevitably get taxed for it!! Results will follow and for some they will follow swiftly. Our bodies don’t want all the excess weight on them any more then our brains do, a partnership of the mind and body is inevitable in this plight, once achieved transformation is soon to follow. I lost 100+ pounds over ten years ago, and since 2020 have gained back close to 60% of it, I am now taking my own advice as of the completion of this comment. Will check back with results soon as I get some, positive or negative.