Visceral fat, also known as belly or abdominal fat, rings alarm bells because of its proximity to vital organs, such as the liver and intestines. In fact, it makes up one third of the infamous trio called metabolic syndrome – a group of conditions that heighten your chances of developing heart disease. Despite the obvious health risks, some people find weight loss fiendishly difficult to achieve.
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There are many complex factors that may complicate a person’s weight loss journey but one is trying to do everything at once and then being let down when you do not see instant results.
Weight loss requires persistence but more importantly, it requires an acceptance that you have to tackle it in stages.
First you should attempt to get your diet in order.
There is no single solution to tackle visceral fat but evidence suggests certain items boast fat-burning properties which can make them essential for anyone looking to reduce the harmful belly fat.
One of the most promising is rosehip extract, a herbal tea or supplement derived from the Rose plant.
Studies show that rose hips from the Rosa canina plant are high in an antioxidant called tiliroside, which may have fat-burning properties.
In a 12-week study in 32 adults with excess weight, taking 100 mg of rosehip extract daily significantly decreased body weight and visceral fat, compared with the placebo group.
Furthermore, in an eight-week study in mice prone to obesity, those fed a high-fat diet containing one percent rosehip extract gained significantly less body weight and stomach fat than animals that did not receive the supplement
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General dietary principles
As Maya Aboukhater, senior specialist dietitian at Bupa Cromwell Hospital, Bupa explained, 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.
She recommended the following:
- Make sure you eat a balanced diet. Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg each day, and include higher-fibre starchy foods in meals.
- 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.
The above dietary goals can be achieved easily by sticking to a low-carbohydrate diet.
In fact, many studies have shown that low-carb diets are more effective at reducing visceral fat than low-fat diets.
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In an eight-week study including 69 overweight men and women, scientists found that people who followed a low-carb diet lost 10 percent more visceral fat and 4.4 percent more total fat than those on a low-fat diet.
Additionally, the ketogenic diet, which is a very low-carb diet, may also help reduce visceral fat.
Ketogenic diets drastically reduce carb intake and replace it with fat.
This can put you in a natural metabolic state called ketosis, suggests research.
A study including 28 overweight and obese adults found that those who followed a ketogenic diet lost more fat, especially visceral fat, than people following a low-fat diet.
Interestingly, they did so while eating roughly 300 more calories per day.
Any form of exercise will also help to beat the belly fat into submission but optimal benefits can be reaped by combining resistance (strength) exercise and cardiovascular exercise, according to Aboukhater.
She explained: “Resistance exercises are a great way of helping you to maintain your muscle mass and your glucose metabolism (the way your body processes sugar and uses it for fuel), which are important for managing your weight.”
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