Visceral fat is deemed harmful because it’s stored in the abdominal cavity next to many vital organs, including the liver, stomach and intestines. High levels of visceral fat can increase the risk of serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A diet high in saturated fat can lead to visceral fat build-up, so looking at what you eat is one of the best ways to help reduce it. But what diet is considered best and are there certain foods you should be eating?
Low-carb diets have been found beneficial to banishing visceral fat.
A number of studies have demonstrated a low-carb diet is more effective at reducing visceral fat than low-fat diets.
One eight-week study involving 69 overweight men and women found people who followed a low-carb diet lost 10 per cent more visceral fat and 4.4 per cent more total fat than those on a low-fat diet.
When it comes to what foods you should eat as part of the diet, experts say protein is the most important nutrient for fat loss.
Research has shown eating more protein can help fend off hunger by increasing levels of the fullness hormones GLP, Pyy and cholecystokinin.
It’s also been found to reduce levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
Studies have also shown protein can help boost metabolism, which can promote weight loss, as well as visceral fat loss. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2003589?dopt=Abstract)
One study in 23,876 adults showed a higher protein intake was linked to a lower body mass index, higher ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and a smaller waist circumference – a marker of visceral fat.
The British Dietetics Association (BDA) outlines the best sources of protein (for meat eaters and vegetarians) and how much you should look to eat with a meal.
- Chicken – one small breast (75g)
- Eggs – three medium eggs
- Semi-skimmed milk – one pint (600ml)
- Baked beans – one large can (400g)
- Unsalted nuts or seeds – two handfuls (100g)
- Quoin mince – six and a half tablespoons (165g)