Visceral fat is stored within the abdominal cavity.
As opposed to subcutaneous fat that is found just beneath a person’s skin, visceral fat is located near several vital organs, including the liver, stomach, and intestines.
It can also build up in the arteries.
Its proximity to vital organs can significantly raise the risk of developing dangerous health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Fortunately, jogging offers one of the best fights against visceral fat. Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center found that people who exercised the equivalent of walking or jogging 11 miles per week didn’t gain any visceral fat.
But those who jogged 17 miles a week successfully reduced both their visceral and subcutaneous fat.
Another study involving runners provided an insight into how this happens.
In 2009, researchers from the University Hospital of Ulm in Germany followed entrants of the Trans Europe Footrace, a 4,500K odyssey from southern Italy to northern Norway – each carrying with them a mobile MRI unit.
Every three or four days the runners, underwent a full body scan that allowed scientists to track how their body composition changed as the race went on.
The results showed that runners lost an average of 5.4 percent body volume during the course of the race, most of which was in the first 2,000 kilometres.
They lost 40 percent of their body fat in the first half of the race and 50 percent over the duration of the race.
Another key finding of the study was that the first tissue affected by running was visceral fat tissue.
More importantly, visceral fat loss was slashed by 70 percent by the end of the event.
Commenting on the findings, lead author Dr Uwe Schütz said: “Much of what we have learned can also be applied to the average runner. When you just begin running, the effects of fat reduction are more pronounced than in athletes who have been running their whole lives.
“But you should do this sport constantly over the years. If you stop running for a long time, you need to reduce your caloric input or opt for other aerobic exercises to avoid experiencing weight gain.”
It is also imperative to eat a balanced diet to combat visceral fat, according to Harvard Health. the health body noted: “Avoid products that seem to encourage belly fat deposition, including trans fats (hydrogenated vegetable oils) and fructose-sweetened foods and beverages.”
It is also vital people get enough sleep. A five-year study found that adults under age 40 who slept five hours or less a night accumulated significantly more visceral fat.
But too much isn’t good, either — young adults who slept more than eight hours also added visceral fat. (This relationship wasn’t found in people over age 40.)