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The Best Ways to Shrink Visceral Fat, Says Science

Tricks to get rid of visceral fat. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Did you know there's a dangerous fat hiding deep in your belly that you can't see or touch, but it's there? It's called visceral fat and it's a hidden health issue that's not talked about nearly as much with patients as it should. It's unhealthy because it wraps around your vital organs and can cause life-threatening health issues. Eat This, Not That! Health talked with experts who explain what visceral fat is scary and how to eliminate it. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Why Visceral Fat is Dangerous

Asian young woman feeling discomfort as suffering from heartburn holding chest with closed eyes and sitting with folded legs on couch at home.

Dr. Seema Bonney, the founder and medical director of the Anti-Aging & Longevity Center of Philadelphia shares, "Visceral fat is dangerous because it is more likely to raise your risk for serious illness. Visceral fat makes more of certain proteins that inflame your body's tissues and organs and narrow your blood vessels. This inflammation can also damage your liver and negatively impact the way that your body breaks down sugars and fats. It has been linked to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, certain cancers and stroke."


How to Measure Visceral Fat

Female doctor measuring waist of overweight woman with measuring tape in clinic.

Reda Elmardi, a Registered Dietician, Certified Nutritionist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Trainer and owner of explains, "There are several ways to tell. You can measure your waist size using a tape measure. If you find yourself having trouble fitting into certain clothing sizes, then you may need to lose some weight. Another way to determine if you have too much abdominal fat is through your body mass index (BMI). A BMI between 25-and 29.9 is considered overweight, while a BMI above 30 is considered obese."


Exercise More

woman jogging in the city by water

Dr. Bonney says, "You can prevent visceral fat by exercising six times a week with a mixture of cardiovascular and strength training workouts." 


Stop Eating Processed Foods

Man eating pizza having a takeaway at home relaxing resting

"Eating nutrient dense real food and avoiding heavily processed meals, sugary drinks and alcohol is also important.," Dr. Bonney emphasizes. 


Get Sleep

woman sleeping at night with eye mask

Dr. Bonney states, "Getting plenty of sleep and implementing a meditation/mindfulness practice for stress management helps maintain optimal body fat balance."


Limit Alcohol Intake

alcoholic beverages

Elmardi says, "Alcohol consumption has been linked to obesity and belly fat. Alcohol dehydrates us and increases the number of calories consumed. People who consume alcohol have higher levels of cortisol, which makes them hungrier later. Cortisol triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas, which then converts any excess sugar into fat cells."


Manage Stress

woman relaxes while doing yoga by the water

According to Dr. Bonney, "Excessive stress causes visceral fat because stress stimulates the body to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases how much visceral fat a person stores."


Why Visceral Fat Isn't Talked About More

Nutritionist inspecting a woman's waist using a measuring tape to prescribe a weight loss diet

Dr. Bonney explains, "Well, we tend to focus on overall body fat percentage, instead of just visceral fat amounts….but all body fat is not created equal in terms of associated health risks. Subcutaneous fat is the other type that we carry on our body. It does not have the same disease promoting characteristics that visceral fat does and can even be protective. It is important to take this into consideration when measuring our body fat percentage. We really want to focus on the harmful type of fat first and foremost."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather