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How to lose visceral fat: The Dutch diet proven to reduce belly fat

Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning

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Visceral fat lurks near your abdominal organs, such as the liver and intestines. Its precarious positioning means it is linked to a host of chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. An accumulation of visceral fat therefore has grave health implications.

Fortunately, you can get at the stubborn belly fat by overhauling your diet.

One study published in the International Journal of Obesity examined the impact adhering to the Dutch Healthy Diet Index (DHD-index) would have on visceral fat.

The DHD-index includes 13 components representing the ten Dutch Guidelines for a Healthy Diet.

These include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Wholegrain products
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Dairy
  • Fish
  • Tea.

The research team examined associations of the DHD-index with visceral fat and adjusted for age, smoking, education, ethnicity, basal metabolic rate, energy restricted diet, menopausal state, physical activity, total energy intake, and total body fat.

The researchers additionally excluded the components one by one to examine individual contributions to the associations.

The conclusion of the study was that adherence to the dietary guidelines as estimated by the DHD-index was associated with less total body fat, and with less visceral and liver fat after adjustment for total body fat.

Other key dietary tips

There are also general dietary principles you should heed if you want to reduce visceral fat.

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According to Bupa, if you want to reduce your belly fat, you’ll need to burn more calories (energy) than you consume, and eat the right kinds of food.

You should try following:

  • Make sure you eat a balanced diet. Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg each day, and include higher-fibre starchy foods in meals.
  • Have some reduced-fat dairy or soya drinks fortified in calcium.
  • Eat more beans, pulses, fish and eggs.
  • Eat small amounts of unsaturated oil.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water each day.
  • Avoid adding salt or sugar to your meals.

As Bupa explains, protein can be a helpful way to lose weight because it makes you feel fuller than carbs and fat do.

“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,” notes the health body.

Good sources of protein include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.

In addition to eating well, exercise is integral to shedding visceral fat.

Studies have shown that you can help trim visceral fat or prevent its growth with both aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) and strength training (exercising with weights).

According to Harvard Health, spot exercises, such as sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles but won’t get at visceral fat.

Exercise can also help keep fat from coming back.

In a study at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, dieting women lost an average of 24 pounds and reduced both visceral and subcutaneous fat, with or without aerobic or strength-training exercise.

In the following year, those who maintained their exercise programs — a modest 40 minutes twice a week — maintained their visceral fat loss, while those who didn’t exercise or abandoned their programs showed a 33 percent average increase in visceral fat.

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