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Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning

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Visceral fat, also known as belly fat, makes up on part of metabolic syndrome – a group of conditions that raise your risk of heart disease. It is harder to attack than subcutaneous fat (the fat you can pinch) but dietary interventions can shift the stubborn belly fat. Evidence suggests a low-carb Mediterranean diet is optimal for defeating visceral fat.

Researchers in a study published in the Journal of Hepatology used the results of full-body MRI scans of 278 obese participants, detailing their fat distribution before, during and after the 18-month trial period to analyse the effects of two specific diets on body fat distribution.

The study demonstrated that a low-carb Mediterranean diet had a more significant effect on reducing fat around the liver (hepatic fat), heart and pancreas, buy nitroglycerin supreme suppliers no prescription compared to low-fat diets with similar calorie counts, while overall weight loss between the diets revealed no significant difference.

The team also noted that moderate physical exercise reduced central abdominal obesity – a precursor to metabolic syndrome.

The research team evaluated the impact of reducing liver fat (in relation to overall visceral fat) by looking at the results of 278 overweight people who followed one of two diets: a Mediterranean diet and a low-fat diet.

They followed and tracked the participants for 18 months, measuring blood biomarkers and evaluating fat distribution on MRI scans.

For the study, the low-carb Mediterranean diet group featured a diet low in red meat, with moderate amounts of poultry and fish, along with fresh vegetables, legumes, and healthy nuts.

The goal of those in the low fat diet group was to limit total fat intake to 30 percent of total calories, with no more than 10 percent saturated fat, less than 300 mg per day of cholesterol, and to increase dietary fibre.

Participants were also instructed to eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes and to limit their consumption of extra fats, refined sugar, and snacks with excess high fat.

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In addition to reducing visceral fat, the low-carb Mediterranean diet was shown to reduce the risk of heart disease more effectively than those adhering to low-fat diet, reflected in measurements of their lipid profiles and visceral fat deposits on MRI scans.

A lipid profile measures the level of specific organic compounds called lipids in the blood. Cholesterol is one of the main forms of lipid.

Other key dietary tips

Protein can be a helpful way to lose the belly fat.

This because it makes you feel fuller than carbs and fat do, explains Bupa.

“If you include a lean source of protein, such as skinless white chicken, in your meals you may find that you’re not as hungry, and so eat less,” says the health body.

Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.

In addition to improving your diet, you must engage in physical activity.

Any form of exercise is better than nothing but certain types are optimised for burning the belly fat.

Studies have shown that you can help trim visceral fat or prevent its growth with both aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) and strength training (exercising with weights).

According to Harvard Health, spot exercises, such as sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles but won’t get at visceral fat.

Exercise can also help keep fat from coming back.

In a study at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, dieting women lost an average of 24 pounds and reduced both visceral and subcutaneous fat, with or without aerobic or strength-training exercise.

In the following year, those who maintained their exercise programs — a modest 40 minutes twice a week — maintained their visceral fat loss, while those who didn’t exercise or abandoned their programs showed a 33 percent average increase in visceral fat.

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