Visceral fat is stored within the abdominal cavity, and as such, can build up around many vital organs in the body, including the pancreas, liver and intestines. If a person has too much visceral fat, their risk of serious health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is increased. But the good news is, visceral fat is extremely receptive to lifestyle measures such as eating well, exercising, sleeping and minimising stress day to day. While there isn’t a single food that can get rid of visceral fat there are certain foods that will play a role in reducing overall body fat levels, helming to control the stress hormone cortisol (which can contribute to visceral fat) and help to keep appetite levels under control.
Ruth Tongue, nutritionist at FOGA, recommended five foods to include in your diet.
Many studies have shown people with abdominal obesity had reduced visceral fat levels when fibre was introduced into their diet.
Ruth advised: “For a quick way to boost your fibre, I would recommend the FOGA Plantshakes, which are a delicious rang of instant-plant-based smoothies that contain at least 3g of fibre per serving.”
There are so many reasons why eating plant foods will help to keep visceral fat levels under control, according to Ruth, one of which being the effect that polyphenols (the anti-oxidant substances found in plant foods) have on the release of sugar into the blood after eating.
She explained: “We know that people who have better blood sugar control are less likely to have abdominal fat.
“Eat a range of different coloured fruit and veggies throughout the day to keep your intake of polyphenols as diverse as possible.”
Not probiotics which are the healthy bacteria found in their trillions in the gut, but the food that they feed on – prebiotics.
Ruth said: “These types of fibre found in all plant foods but particularly in foods like onions, garlic, leeks, bananas and asparagus help to keep the gut microbiome thriving – in turn we know that people with a more diverse microbiome have lower levels of visceral fat.
“A veggie-based stir fry is a great way to get tons of these probiotics into your diet, or if you want to start the day with a healthy shake – blend a FOGA Plantshake with your favourite milk and perhaps a handful of almonds for an extra prebiotic fix.”
Monounsaturated (healthy) fats
It may sound counter intuitive that eating more fat can reduce fat in the body, said Ruth, but eating a diet rich in MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) found in foods like avocado, olive oil and nuts, has been shown to reduce central fat storage.
She added: “Avocados are so versatile – snack on half an avocado with a little lemon, chilli and salt, blend half in a smoothie for a delicious creaminess or whizz up with some soy sauce, ginger and a little honey for an Asian inspired dip.”
It’s been suggested the calcium found in dairy products has a direct effect on the reduction of abdominal fat – in fact a study of dieters found that in people given either calcium supplements, or natural yogurt daily, the yogurt eaters had great fat loss, and more of it was from the tummy area.
Ruth said: “Natural yogurt is a filling snack at any time of the day – add some berries and seeds for a perfect start to the day or mix with cucumber and mint for a low-fat alternative to your shop bought Tzatziki.”
So how can you tell if you have high levels of visceral fat?
Ruth advised: “The simplest way to tell if you have visceral fat is to measure your waist – measure at the belly button level – In women, a waist circumference of 35 inches or larger is generally considered a sign of excess visceral fat. In men, it’s 40inches.”
When it comes to an overall diet to follow to get rid of visceral fat, studies have proven the keto diet to be effective.