Most American adults would like to lose a few pounds. According to data from Healthline, over two-thirds of adults in this country are overweight or obese. But most don’t know how to meaningfully change habits to lose fat,
Visceral fat accumulates around the abdominal organs, which can cause a protruding belly or expanding waistline. Unlike subcutaneous fat, which sits just below the skin, visceral fat develops deep within the body and surrounds crucial organs.
Having too much visceral fat can increase the risks of numerous diseases and health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
The only way to determine exactly how much visceral fat you have is by asking your doctor for an imaging test, such as a DEXA scan, which measures fat, visceral fat, lean mass, and bone density. CT scans and MRIs can also show this information, but they are more expensive.
Waist measurements and body mass index calculators cannot reliably estimate your visceral fat
If you’ve recently got the results from a DEXA scan that revealed you have a large percentage of visceral fat, you may be wondering how to lose it.
While you can’t specifically target visceral fat (or any other area of your body, for that matter), there are some simple hacks you can follow to lose weight and reduce your body fat overall.
Eat fewer calories than your TDEE.
Your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the number of calories you burn per day. Eating fewer calories than you burn each day will lead you to lose weight in a ratio of 50% fat and 50% muscle. If you want to burn off up to 97% fat and just 3% muscle then follow the next two pieces of advice.
Begin resistance training
Strengthening your muscles with weight lifting (even small weights) will help your body retain more lean muscle mass during fat loss.
Double your protein intake
If you couple resistance training with increased protein intake, your will burn mostly fat instead of 50% lean muscle and 50% fat which occurs with calorie restriction alone. Consider eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight while weight training. Protein will also satiate your hunger better than carbs, meaning that 100 calories of protein will make you feel more full than 100 calories of carbs.
Choose “good” fats
Many people wrongly assume that all fatty foods are “bad.” This couldn’t be further from the truth! Some heart-healthy, antioxidant-rich foods like avocados, seeds, fish, and nuts are high in unsaturated fats. Avoid all fried foods.
Boost your step count
You don’t have to become a gym addict to lose visceral fat. Simply trying to walk a little more every day can make a huge difference over time. If you’re up for a challenge, try to walk 10,000 steps per day!
Don’t drink your calories
Drinking your calories from sugary drinks, juices, smoothies or shakes is a problem because it does not leave you feeling full. If you ate the same amount of calories from nuts, eggs, yogurt, berries, or veggies you would feel more full and you would be less likely to eat again soon.
Get 8 hours of sleep
When you’re not properly rested, you won’t want to walk more, prepare healthy meals for yourself, or make other positive lifestyle choices. Getting a good night’s sleep will help set you up for success and increase the likelihood of you sticking to your fat loss goals.
Try a “healthy cola”
What is a healthy cola?! Simply mix 2 tablespoons of white or balsamic vinegar with 8 to 12 ounces of soda water. Some people swear it tastes just like cola as you drink it. The aftertaste is vinegar for sure, but the going down taste is cola. Vinegar has several benefits to your body, but this hack is about giving you something fun and refreshing to drink that’s not loaded with sugar.
Find an active hobby you truly enjoy
Jogging, cycling, and yoga are great for some people, but not if you don’t enjoy those activities. You can easily become more active by finding a type of exercise you love, such as swimming, martial arts, tennis, or rock climbing. Anything that gets you up and active is better than sitting on your couch!
Want to learn more about ways to lose visceral fat and extra weight? Here are a few good places to start
- Losing Weight (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Abdominal fat and what to do about it (Harvard Medical School)
- Micah Frye’s book “Banking with Your Liver: Why You Need to Stop Eating Cash“
In the book, Frye explains the first step to losing fat is depleting your liver’s glycogen stores. “Banking with your liver” is a metaphor for the weight loss process. To extend the metaphor in your liver carbs are cash, fats are the checking account, and proteins are construction materials for muscles that are property. The book explains the fat loss mechanism in the body, a super simple diet to follow, and debunks some nutrition myths.
And a parting thought… losing fat is difficult when you’re stressed, as you’re more prone to give into cravings or binge on unhealthy foods. Do the things that calm you down and make you feel good when you are stressed.