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The Best Ways To Increase Your Visceral Fat Burn, Physician Says

Belly fat begone!
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Visceral fat can occur even in people who are slender, and is a particularly dangerous form of fat. "Difficulty with losing weight is troubling, especially concerning belly fat, also known as visceral, abdominal, or truncal fat," says Bret Scher, MD. "Belly fat's impact is more serious than aesthetics. It's associated with metabolic disease, type 2 diabetes, and other serious health concerns. That may sound depressing, but with the right information, you can adopt an eating strategy that will help you lose belly fat." Here are five very effective ways to get rid of belly fat, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Sleep Your Fat Away

woman sleeping peacefully

If you don't make sleep a priority, it will be difficult to keep belly fat at bay—chronic sleep deprivation is linked to belly fat specifically, so make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep a night. "Normally, fat is preferentially deposited subcutaneously or under the skin," says Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D. "However, the inadequate sleep appears to redirect fat to the more dangerous visceral compartment. Importantly, although during recovery sleep there was a decrease in calorie intake and weight, visceral fat continued to increase. This suggests that inadequate sleep is a previously unrecognized trigger for visceral fat deposition, and that catch-up sleep, at least in the short term, does not reverse the visceral fat accumulation. In the long term, these findings implicate inadequate sleep as a contributor to the epidemics of obesity, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases."


Stop Smoking

stop smoking

Studies show that when smokers give up cigarettes, their belly fat goes down over the long term. "In general, people think that when they stop smoking, they are going to gain weight and their diabetes and insulin resistance are going to get worse, but we didn't find that," says  Theodore C. Friedman, MS, MD, PhD. "Our study showed that insulin resistance was basically the same and some of the fat redistribution seemed to be better. Initially fat might have gone into the abdomen, but later, it went back to the thigh, which is more benign."


Try Weight Training

good mornings
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Resistance training is a great way to melt fat—but focus on your actual measurements and try not to obsess with the number on the scales. "Resistance training does so many fantastic things to the body that other forms of exercise don't, like improving bone mineral density, lean mass and muscle quality. Now, we know it also gives you a benefit we previously thought only came from aerobics," says Dr Mandy Hagstrom, exercise physiologist and senior lecturer at UNSW Medicine & Health. "If you're strength training and want to change how your body looks, then you don't want to focus on the number on the scale too much, because it won't show you all your results. Instead, think about your whole body composition, like how your clothes fit and how your body will start to feel, and move, differently."

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Ditch the Sugar

Coffee and Sugar Main Picture

Sugar drinks are directly linked to belly fat, experts warn. "There is evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes," says Caroline S. Fox, M.D., M.P.H. "Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink. To policy makers, this study adds another piece of evidence to the growing body of research suggesting sugar-sweetened beverages may be harmful to our health."

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Stop Binge-Watching TV

A woman in her 40s wearing headphones and eating popcorn while watching a movie on a streaming service on a laptop at night.

Sedentary behavior is strongly linked to an increase in belly fat—but for some reason, binge-watching TV specifically seems to have the worst results for weight gain. "These findings are important because they have some implications for interventions to improve health," says Kara Whitaker, PhD, MPH. "If we're finding that television viewing is associated with abdominal fat, and we know that people with higher levels of abdominal fat are at higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, then it would be likely beneficial to people to reduce their television viewing time."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan