Last week we discussed the different types of body fat and how they affect your health. The most dangerous type of fat, called visceral fat, is found deep within the belly area and surrounds your major organs. The bad news is that having a lot of this type of stomach fat can increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. The good news is that although it’s dangerous, it’s very responsive to weight loss attempt — meaning, you can burn it off pretty easily with the right strategy.
Calories In Versus Calories Out
The most basic strategy for all weight loss is this: take in fewer calories than you expend. The source of your calories definitely matters, but simply restricting your calories will have a significant impact on your visceral fat.
According to researchers at Harvard University, exercise can reduce your waist circumference and help get rid of visceral fat even if you don’t actually lose any weight. To reduce visceral fat, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or biking, on most days of the week.
A study done by researchers from the University of Alabama Birmingham reported that the more calcium-rich foods a woman eats, the less visceral fat she gains. Good sources of calcium include plain yogurt, collard greens, broccoli, kale, bok choy, figs, oranges, sardines, and canned salmon.
Avoid Trans Fat and Fructose
Trans fats and fructose (read: high-fructose corn syrup) encourage the storage of fat around the belly. In addition, foods that contain trans fat and fructose are typically processed, packaged foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients anyway.
Finding your perfect sleep balance is important for reducing visceral fat. Studies show that both too much (more than 8 hours) and too little sleep (fewer than 5 hours) can increase visceral fat. Aim for around 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
Manage Your Stress
Stress increases production of the hormone cortisol, which prompts the body to store belly fat. If you want to reduce your visceral fat, you’ll need to get your stress levels under control. Try deep breathing, yoga, meditation, exercise, and/or journaling.