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What is Visceral Fat and How to Get Rid of It?

By Rachael Attard, Updated Feb 19, 2021
What is visceral fat and how to get rid of it

One question that I get often is: How can I get rid of unwanted fat?

The answer isn’t terribly simple. Why? Because there’s more than one type of fat. The most problematic type of fat is called visceral fat.

Before you can start making improvements, you need to understand what this fat is. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Different types of fat

If you’re trying to lose weight, it might seem like all fat is the same. However, it’s very important where fat is located.

There are two main types of fat that can be found in different areas of the body:

  • subcutaneous fat
  • visceral fat

Subcutaneous fat

what is subcutaneous fat

Subcutaneous fat is the type of fat that’s located right under the skin and on top of our abdominal muscles. This is the fat that we can grip with our hand.

It’s what most people think of when they’re trying to lose weight.

The fat we notice on our arms and legs is also subcutaneous fat. Everyone has it and it has several uses:

  • It’s your body’s way to store energy
  • It pads your muscles and organs and protects them from impact
  • It helps regulate body temperature
  • It connects the skin to the muscle and tissue

The amount of subcutaneous fat depends on various influences, such as diet, exercise, and even genetics.

Chances are, we are usually worried about subcutaneous fat rather than visceral fat. Getting rid of subcutaneous fat can be difficult, but with a good diet and effective workout routine, and hard work, it can definitely be reduced.

Visceral Fat

what is visceral fat

Unlike the subcutaneous belly fat that sits on top of our abdominal muscles, visceral fat is the type of belly fat that’s located on the other side of our abdominal muscles and collects around our abdominal organs.

Visceral fat is the smallest contributor to overall body weight. We can have a flat tummy and still have visceral fat.

Visceral fat, like subcutaneous fat, is a way for our bodies to store energy and effectively pad or protect our organs when we’re being active. That said, too much visceral fat can be problematic.

Too much visceral fat is more risky for health than subcutaneous fat.

Who Has Visceral Fat?

Everyone has at least some amount of visceral fat. As I said before, it’s natural and our bodies are designed to deposit certain amounts of fat cells around sensitive organs.

Even though women most often tend to store fat in our lower bodies, we are still more prone to have visceral fat than men.

So, what influences the visceral fat levels in our bodies? Well, it’s largely the result of the types of activities we participate in.

For example, if we tend to live a sedentary lifestyle, don’t get enough exercise regularly, or eat more calories than we tend to burn each day, we likely have higher amounts of visceral fat beneath our abdominal walls.

However, if we live an active lifestyle, eat right, and stay fit, we’ll typically have a lower amount of visceral fat.

RELATED POST: How to Calculate Your Daily Calorie Intake

Is Visceral Fat Bad for Your Health?

Apart from storing excess energy, fat cells also produce hormones and inflammatory substances.

Visceral fat also produces more protein which can cause inflammation and negatively affect your health.

High percentages of visceral fat can cause:

  • Heart problems
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • A stroke
  • Breast and colorectal cancer
  • Dementia 
  • Asthma 
visceral fat health problems

How to Measure Visceral Fat?

Before we can start looking for ways to ditch that visceral fat for good, we need to know if you have too much building up in our body. It’s possible to measure the estimated visceral fat percentage, just as we can measure our estimated body fat percentage.

The best way to measure the amount of visceral fat is to go to the doctor. A doctor can give us a CT scan or an MRI. This can show us exactly how much fat is collecting in the body and can give us a definitive idea of how healthy we are and whether we need to be proactive about decreasing our visceral fat levels.

That being said, those scans are very expensive. There are ways we can try and check on our own, even though these cannot be said to be absolutely reliable.

Think about waist size. There are studies to suggest that women with a waist measurement of 35 inches (89cm) or more have higher amounts of visceral fat than those with smaller waistlines.

By knowing our body mass index (BMI) measurement or body fat percentage, we can also estimate our visceral fat levels. On average, visceral fat makes up about 10 percent of our body’s total fat content. The higher the body fat percentage is, the more visceral fat we are likely to have.

Keep in mind that this is just a guide. We can’t really know exactly how much visceral fat we have without going to the doctor. That said, it should still give us an idea of whether or not we need to be more proactive about fat loss.

How to Lose Visceral Fat

The best thing we can do, if we are worried about too much fat collecting around our middle, is to be proactive and start taking steps to decrease the amount of body fat we have.

I’ll be honest. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s definitely worth the effort. All it takes is commitment to the process.

Here are a few simple things we can do to further decrease visceral fat buildup and achieve that lean and toned body.

how to lose visceral fat

1. Exercise the Right Way

The best way to get our waistline to slim down and lower our body fat levels is to exercise. And I’m not just talking about dancing in the living room when no one is home (which is totally fun and something I think everyone should do to de-stress). We need to kick things up a notch.

We need to get some serious cardio work going. Download that book you’ve been meaning to get to or make a playlist of your favourite songs and go for a 60 minute power walk every day!

Or try a HIIT routine to get your heart pumping quickly. If you feel up for it, you can go for a quick jog around the block too!

The point is to get your heart pumping. If you can walk fast enough to at least get slightly out of breath, you’re getting some serious cardio in.

RELATED POST: No Jumping HIIT Workout for Women

2. Eat the Right Way

Exercise is an important component of any weight loss routine. But it’s not the only thing we need to do. We also need to pay attention to the types of food we’re eating.

The best thing to do is to cut out all processed foods from the diet. That means ditching junk food and sugar.

We need to start eating a diet rich in lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you drink regularly, try to cut back. Remember, the calories in alcohol are mainly empty calories, which means they have no nutritional value.

RELATED POST: Healthy Foods That I Eat Every Day

3. Get Enough Sleep Each Night

Did you know that sleep can have a major impact on our body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight? It’s important to start prioritizing your sleep schedule.

If you can, get at least eight hours each night. This will help your body recover and give it the rest it needs to better burn calories and shed unwanted fat. If you’re struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night, find ways to foster relaxation.

Do a yoga routine before bed. Have a cup of herbal tea and listen to relaxing music. Whatever can put you in a more relaxed state will help you get better sleep.

Final Thoughts

Visceral fat is the most potentially problematic type of fat we can have in our bodies. Small amounts are fine, but letting it build up puts our health and wellbeing at risk.

Start getting active as soon as you can, and you’ll start to see a serious improvement in your health and a decrease in your waistline.

If you have any questions, make sure to ask me in the comments!

Love Rachael xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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2 comments on “What is Visceral Fat and How to Get Rid of It?”

    Victoria says:

    Hi Rachel, please i need help i am 25 years, i weigh 91kg and this gives me concern because I noticed for a while now that my hips is going in..(hip dips) and fat storing on the upper part of my bum…..causing my bum to go wide and flat……and secondly my thighs really big & fat stopping on my knee area causing my lower legs to look way slower than my thighs please i wish to drop neatly….I seek your help. Thanks

      Len - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Spot-reducing isn’t really possible so if you want to lose fat on certain parts of your body, you’ll need to lose weight overall. :)

      If your goal is to slim down your legs there are 3 steps you should follow – do the right type of cardio, do bodyweight resistance training, and adjust your diet for weight loss.
      I have a very detailed blog post that will help you learn how to slim down your legs so please go give it a read

      It will definitely help! :)

      Feel free to reach out to us at info@rachaelattard.com

      Love,
      Len