Ask The Expert
June 28, 2011
Excess belly fat (doctors call it visceral fat) creates serious health risks, even if you are only mildly overweight. So, it's great that you want to reduce it.
Visceral fat is found inside your abdomen, below the fat that lies underneath skin. Visceral fat surrounds the intestines, liver and other organs.
A tape measure is your best way to keep an eye on visceral fat. Measure your waistline at the level of the navel. Always measure in the same place. Don't suck in your gut or pull the tape so tight it pinches your skin.
In women, a waist circumference of greater than 32 inches suggests excess visceral fat. In men, it is 38 inches.
You can decrease your amount of visceral fat. Here's how.
Exercise can help reduce your waist circumference. Even if you don't lose weight, you lose visceral fat and gain muscle mass. Do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five or more days per week. Better yet, try to get 45 to 60 minutes each day.
Also, think about how you can add more walking to your day. Park farther from your destination and walk the rest of the way, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and stand while you talk on the phone.
Resistance training two to three times per week also helps reduce visceral fat.
Choose a balanced diet that helps you reach and keep a healthy weight. Avoid sugary foods and beverages. They are usually high in fructose. Of all foods, fructose may add the most inches to waistlines.
The more you smoke, the more likely you are to store fat in your belly.
Get your sleep
Too little sleep is bad. Adults that sleep five hours or less a night accumulate more visceral fat.