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Visceral fat is the excess intra-abdominal adipose tissue accumulation. This fat is stored within the abdomen region and therefore covers several sensitive internal organs like the liver, pancreas, and intestines. This gel-type fat is stored under a layer of superficial belly fat. If you have a large waist, that’s indicative that you are storing a lot of dangerous visceral fat, but don’t be too sure as anyone can have visceral fat, without even knowing it.
Visceral fat is considered highly dangerous and is also termed as ‘active fat’ because it plays a critical role in changing the way your body works and hormones operate. This type of fat is considered toxic and increases the trouble in the body because it acts as an organ of the body and starts pumping out hormones and inflammatory substances. Not only does this increase the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals, but it also tends to play a dynamic role in the regulation of moods, weight, eating patterns, and functioning of the brain.
The human body is a mixture of various natural chemicals
The human body is designed with regards to a perfect amalgamation of chemicals that trigger the brain to perform the right actions. These include calculating the time to sleep, time to eat, the amount of food to eat, etc. An effective communication between the brain and these chemicals holds the accountability of maintaining a healthy weight. Conversely, it may make you more susceptible to weight gain and visceral fat storage.
The base of the weight of a human body is defined by the blood sugar levels which are controlled by the insulin. It is responsible for managing blood sugar levels. To digest the food the body breaks down sugar into simpler units which are known as glucose. This glucose then enters the bloodstream and triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas, and this insulin sends blood sugar into the biological cells in our body. This ultimately helps in energizing the brain and body tissues and increasing muscular functions.
Insulin also corresponds to body fat stores, including the visceral fat stored deep within our bodies. When there’s too much glucose in our bloodstream, glucose gets stored as fat in the body. The more often and the longer that blood insulin levels remain high, the more likely a person is to accumulate excess body fat and to battle weight problems.
Assessment of visceral fat
The most effective and certain way is to undergo a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (or MRI) scan. You can also use a Body Composition Analyzer machine to assess the level of visceral fat in your body. Along with this, another good indicator is to take a waistline measurement. As per the Harvard University, around 10% of the total fat is likely to be stored as visceral fat, therefore if you are carrying higher amounts of body fat, it is more likely that you are also storing excessive visceral fat.
Major risks of visceral fat
1. Higher risk of diabetes
In comparison to the other types of fat, visceral fat is thought to play a larger role in insulin resistance. This automatically means that people who have this type of fat are at a heightened risk of developing diabetes. This is the reason why abdominal fat is viewed as a bigger health risk than hip or thigh fat, not only for diabetes but for many other chronic diseases too.
2. Increased inflammation
Another major problem caused by this fat is the production of hormonal and inflammatory molecules that are dumped directly into the liver, leading to even more inflammation and hormonal reactions. If there is a layer of visceral organs like the liver, heart, kidneys, pancreas, and intestines, your body becomes inflamed and your metabolism suffers, making it a hard cycle to break out of.
3. Difficulty in losing weight
People tend to gain more and more weight as time passes on and one of the main reasons is that stored body fat affects hunger levels, especially visceral fat. Though it sounds unreal, your body’s metabolism levels are highly governed by none other than the existing stored fat. Fat messes with our appetites and makes it easier to overeat due to hormonal changes that take place.
If there are higher levels of insulin that automatically convert the calories into body fat making it a never-ending cycle. The mind loses its effective functionality when you tend to eat more refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar. This makes it very difficult to follow a moderate-calorie, healthy diet. Thus, it is really important to kick your sugar addiction and address weight gain and visceral fat formation as soon as possible.
4. Battle with heart disease and strokes
Inflammation caused by excessive fat is the main contributor to heart disease and other inflammatory disorders. Visceral fat is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease markers like high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
1. Opt for healthy, balanced meals
Create and follow a meal plan that focuses on improving your health and helping you to lose weight. As per the recommendations given by the American Diabetes Association, limit your total daily fat intake to less than 30% of your total calories, saturated fat to less than 70% of the same, and eliminate harmful trans-fats from the meals.
Try to consume more fresh vegetables and fruits, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates such as beans, lentils, and sprouted grains for energy and fiber. Also try to include healthy vegetable oils for cooking like coconut, sunflower, olive, avocado, and grapeseed oils.
2. Incorporate healthy habits
It’s not just healthy eating but overall lifestyle habits that play a crucial role in getting rid of visceral fat. Say no to smoking, drinking, junk food, refined carbs if you are serious about getting fit. Choosing healthier lifestyle choices will improve your quality of life and will show up in weight loss. Along with this, make sure you incorporate the following in your daily living like deep breathing, yoga, quick walks, plenty of sleep.
3. Don’t forget to exercise
It is important to exercise for at least 30 mins every day which will help you stay on track. If you lose around 5-10% of your total body weight, it can help in reducing the visceral fat stores. To achieve this, you must burn more calories than you consume and for that exercising is a must. Any form of exercise is welcomed-be it walking, circuit training, brisk walking, biking, or suchlike.
4. Stay motivated
It is important to understand that the process of weight loss does not happen overnight. But even a little weight loss will play an important role in reducing your visceral fat stores and this should be enough motivation for you to stick with a better eating practice and exercise program. Track your meals and exercise in a calorie tracker app like MEVOLIFE, which will help you to reach your goals faster and speed up your weight loss journey.
The special case of frequent flyers and their long journeys
Then there is a special case of those frequent fliers who prefer to travel by air to distant parts of the country or the world for either business or leisure. We understand you may not always have the time to work out and to live a healthy lifestyle, but you should know that these habits shall only help you in the long run.
Sitting and eating for most parts of the day can only wreak havoc on your body fat and visceral fat is usually the first one to receive attention. Here’s what you can do if you are flying next month and we are also offering the steps that you may take to negate the accumulation of visceral fat.
How to avoid weight gain on long flights?
When you’re planning a vacation, you probably start by figuring out where you’re going to go, how you’re going to get there, where you’re going to stay, and what you’ll want to do once you get there. But there is something else also you might have to plan to make your travel a happy one- and that’s weight gain, especially the one that’s called the visceral fat.
If you want to avoid returning from your holiday with loads of dreaded excess baggage that might creep around your middle or derriere, you’ll need to eat and drink reasonably, and that begins from the moment you step on the plane!
Here are some useful to do and to avoid tips that might prove helpful to take off those calories:
1. Plan ahead
Planning will help you keep off the immediate meal decisions. Have a thorough check at the airport eateries in case you want to eat before you fly, else order a special nutritious meal in the plane that has more veggies and less fat & sugar.
2. Eat veggies at every meal
Start your meal with an olive oil and lemon juice dressed salad. Crowd your plate with extra veggies and eat them before you start eating anything else. By doing this, you’ll eat low-calorie, nutritious foods, curb your appetite, and be less likely to overeat on starches and animal proteins.
3. Stay hydrated
No matter where you are, drinking lots of water will keep your body working properly. Everyone knows that the air in an airplane is dry so drinking a liter or two of water before your flight will keep you hydrated and would also not let you feel hungry. Often the body confuses thirst for hunger, leading you to eat unnecessary calories, which will also be avoided with sufficient water intake.
4. Safe snacks
No matter what your travel mode is, easy-to-pack foods like protein bars, almonds, seaweed snacks, lentil chips, fruit, string cheese, and individual packs of baby carrots always come to your savior. Along with this, in the flight, ask for nuts or fruit instead of pretzels and chips. And choose 1 percent milk as your beverage of choice (other than water). Its perfect combination of protein (8 g), carbohydrates (11 g), and fat (2 g) will fill you up and keep you that way better than nearly any other snack.
Other good foods to pack are dates, dried mango, crackers, cherries, carrot, celery sticks, smoked salmon, homemade popcorn, and bean salad.
5. Keep moving
When flights are delayed, use the time to walk around in the terminal rather than letting the restaurants and watering holes tempt you. At some large airports, you can easily log a mile or more by walking back and forth along the concourses. Even in the flight, rather than being stuck to your seat just keep strolling a little every two hours for better functioning of your digestive system. It doesn’t matter what you do, just keep moving.
What foods should you avoid?
Visceral fat is one of the hardest of body fats to melt once it starts forming. We would thus advise you to go through the following tips and check the ones that you can follow to the T.
1. Avoid zoning out with menus
Don’t glaze your eyes over the menu. A double chocolate cheesecake has the same number of calories when at home and when traveling. It’s time to grip your temptations and apply the same healthy rules you follow at home. Look out for some healthy and simple dishes, prefer green salads!
2. Avoid aerated drinks and alcohols
Watch out for empty liquid calories. Avoid chugging sodas, cocktails, and alcoholic drinks else you’ll rack up a bundle of calories. Stick to water, iced tea, or lightly sweetened sports beverages instead.
3. Miss the complementary
Give the complimentary snacks served with drinks a miss. It’s tempting to overeat starchy bagels, cereal, and waffles and it’s far easier to eat more than you should, especially when you’re not paying for it. Avoid it, be on the lookout for fresh fruit, and you could find some protein in the form of hard-boiled eggs or yogurt there!
4. Avoid eating large portions
A small portion is key to keep your weight loss regime on the right track. If you want to have a to-die-for dish or dessert that’s packed with calories, share it. Don’t deprive yourself, rather have a few bites, relish it, and appreciate it.
5.Ignore the sides
It’s all the extras/side dishes that have the potential to pile on the unnecessary pounds/calories like the mayo dressing of your salad, the cheese and biscuits, the butter with the roll, and the after-dinner chocolate. Avoid them as much as you can.
Visceral fat is not invincible!
Visceral fat is a nasty thing to happen to anyone and you would always be well advised to stay away from its improper accumulation. While you may not always put off your daily routine and business activities, but you may still get stay away from its increasing load. We suggest you keep these tips in mind next time you travel to keep loads of excess weight baggage at bay.
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