Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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Visceral fat, also known as abdominal fat or belly fat, can be found near the liver and intestines in the body. It is associated with a range of metabolic disturbances, such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The belly fat can be hard to reach but diet has been shown to attack it.
Cutting back on the amount of calories you consume can have a positive impact on visceral fat, research suggests.
A study published in the Nutrition Journal evaluated the impact of mild-calorie-restriction on overweight individuals.
According to the NHS, a very low calorie diet is a clinically supervised diet plan that involves eating about 800 calories a day or fewer.
For the study, overweight individuals were put on a diet of 300 calories a day.
To evaluate the impact, eighty overweight subjects with high visceral fat were randomised into the 12-week mild-calorie-restriction or control groups.
By the end of the study, the weight-loss group had greater reductions in body weight.
Participants’ visceral fat area decreased by 17.7 cm2 from baseline in the weight-loss group.
What’s more, the weight-loss group showed greater reductions in other heart disease markers, such as triglycerides.
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Triglycerides are a combination of three fatty acids or fats that can contribute to the risk of developing heart and circulatory disease.
“The results suggest that mild weight loss improves abdominal obesity”, the researchers concluded.
Calorie-restriction – important things to consider
According to the NHS, very low calorie diets are for adults who are obese and severely obese, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) over 30 and 40, and need to quickly lose weight.
BMI is a measure of whether you’re a healthy weight for your height.
“They are not the first option to manage obesity and should not be routinely used,” warns the NHS.
The heath body continues: “Very low calorie diets should only be followed under medical supervision for a maximum of 12 weeks.
“Do not follow a very low calorie diet unless a GP has suggested it to you.”
Other helpful dietary tips
According to the Bupa, protein can be a helpful way to lose weight because it makes you feel fuller than carbs and fat do.
“So 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,” advises the health body.
It advises including protein with each meal.
Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.
Alternatively, there are lots of protein products on the market, such as supplements and powders.
“But if you decide to use these make sure you have a trained sports dietitian or nutritionist supervising your diet,” adds Bupa.
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