Lifestyle and genes makes a Difference

Typically, if you are at a healthy weight, you’ll have healthy levels of visceral fat, as well. But genes can predispose a person to being thin and still having a disproportionate amount of visceral fat.

Like overweight people with excess visceral fat, thin people with a genetic tendency to store visceral fat may have higher cholesterol and blood sugar due to insulin resistance.

If a thin person is showing up with unusually high levels of cholesterol and blood sugar, it may be an indication that he or she is storing this kind of fat.

An inactive lifestyle can also lead thin people to store fat viscerally. A study at the British Medical Research Council showed that thin people who maintain their weight through diet alone rather than exercise are more likely to have unhealthy levels of visceral fat.

How Can I Control Visceral Fat?

There are four keys: exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management.

Exercise: Forget spot-reducing. There aren't any moves that specifically target visceral fat. As you lose weight, you lose all types of fat.

But vigorous aerobic exercise has been shown to trim subcutaneous and visceral fat, even fat stores in the liver linked to fatty liver disease. It's also proven to slow the build-up of visceral fat over the years.

In a Duke University study, 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, done four times per week, reduced subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat. Resistance training alone reduced only subcutaneous fat.

A PhD, who worked on that study, defines "vigorous” as jogging for physically fit people and walking briskly at an incline for obese people who may risk injury by jogging. Workouts of the same intensity on stationary bikes and elliptical or rowing machines are also effective.

On the flip side, studies show that inactivity leads to greater gathering of visceral fat over time. A lifestyle that includes moderate activity – raising your heart rate for 30 minutes at least three times per week – significantly slows visceral fat gains.

Rake leaves, walk, garden, play soccer with your kids or go to the gym. If you are not active now, check with your doctor or other health care provider before starting a new fitness program.

Diet: There is no diet that targets visceral fat alone. But when you lose weight, belly fat usually goes first.

A fiber-rich diet may also help. Research shows that people who eat 10 grams of soluble fiber per day, without any other diet changes, build up less visceral fat over time than others. That’s two small apples, a cup of green peas, and a half-cup of pinto beans, for example. Even if you kept everything else the same but switched to a higher-fiber bread, you might be able to better maintain your weight over time.

Previous Page     Next Page