The chief problem visceral fat presents is that it raises your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and diabetes. It plays a major role in how your body functions. Visceral fat is connected to inflammation, which is a major culprit in heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It’s linked with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.
It’s also associated with insulin resistance, which can result in type 2 diabetes. And visceral fat increases inflammation throughout the body. It’s connected to the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of respiratory infections.
Visceral fat is fat that’s hidden beneath your skin. It’s sneaky because it can look as though you’re a healthy weight — you may even feel like you’re losing inches. But visceral fat is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat, which is the fat you can see.
Visceral fat surrounds your organs and puts pressure on them, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and coronary heart disease. It can contribute to insulin resistance, which may lead to diabetes. And it can contribute to the development of depression, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and gout.
Visceral fat is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat, which is the fat you can see.
So how can you lose visceral fat? First, it’s time to ditch your bad habits. Cutting back on sugar, alcohol, salt, and smoking will help.
Then, aim to increase your lean body mass. This means building lean muscle, which boosts your metabolic rate. Adding more muscle to your body will also increase your basal metabolic rate — the rate at which you burn calories at rest — so you’ll burn more of the calories you do eat.
Some studies suggest that building more muscle can lead to as much as a 20 percent reduction in visceral fat, even if you’re not doing much extra exercise. Finally, aim to get adequate sleep. It’s common for people to drop a few pounds when regularly getting adequate sleep.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this. If you have trouble sleeping, it can seriously affect your health and your body composition.
In one study, researchers followed more than 3,000 men over 20 years. They found that those who slept fewer than six hours a night were 49 percent more likely to die over the course of the study than men who got an average of seven or eight.