Visceral fat is abdominal or belly fat that builds up and surrounds the internal organs. Visceral fat is not easily seen from the outside but surrounds your organs, causing metabolic issues. This type of fat can also accumulate in arteries. This type of fat is active in your body, producing hormones that can affect your health.
You can look thin and still have dangerous levels of visceral fat. The best indication is waist size. For women, if your waist measures 35 inches or larger, and for men 40 inches or larger, you may be at risk for health problems related to visceral fat.
Whether fat accumulates in your abdomen or lower body depends on genes, hormones, and other factors, such as ratio of visceral to subcutaneous (under the skin) fat, insulin, and cortisol levels.
See a doctor
If you suspect you might have visceral fat, see a doctor for a physical. Your doctor may refer you to a nutritionist to get on a healthy eating plan.
To find out your exact amount of visceral fat you would need to get a CT or MRI scan, but doctors can generally estimate it based on waist size and BMI. Visceral fat is about 10 percent of total body fat, so you can estimate it that way too.
Factors that can lead to visceral fat
What can lead to excess visceral fat?
- Unhealthy eating
- Eating too many carbs
Health effects of visceral fat
Too much visceral fat can lead to dangerous health conditions such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Insulin resistance
- Higher levels of LDL cholesterol
- Lower levels of HDL cholesterol
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
How to get rid of it
Weight loss surgery and liposuction are not the best way to get rid of visceral fat. These procedures can only get rid of subcutaneous fat, while dangerous belly fat may remain hidden underneath. The best way to eliminate visceral fat is to reduce carbs, reduce calorie intake, and exercise regularly. Exercise should include cardio and strength training, and be done at least 30 minutes each day. You can also lower your stress levels by practicing meditation and deep breathing.