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Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning

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Visceral fat is not perceptible to the eyes but its impact is far more devastating than the fat that lies just under the skin (subcutaneous fat). Visceral fat neighbours vital organs in the body, such as the liver and intestines. From this location, visceral fat can interfere with key processes, hiking your risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Diet is key to reducing visceral fat and stopping it from accumulating in the body.

A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity sought to assess the impact different breakfast combinations have on visceral fat build-up.

To assess this impact, researchers explored the association between breakfast composition and abdominal obesity among regular breakfast eaters from a Swiss population-based sample.

Among 1351 regular breakfast eaters, three main breakfast types were identified.

The following breakfast types were identified:

After comparing each breakfast type, the prudent breakfast was negatively associated with visceral fat promotion.

“Regular breakfast consumers had less abdominal obesity if their breakfast was composed of fruit, natural cereal flakes, nuts/seeds and yogurt,” the researchers wrote.

They added: “This association was partly explained by their healthier diet during the rest of the day.”

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The findings are not surprising – unprocessed and unsweetened items are conducive to visceral fat reduction because they do not contain added sugars.

Added sugar products usually have a high calorie content, which promotes weight gain.

Added sugar is often found in sweet foods but is also found in sports drinks and sugar sweetened drinks.

Certain low-fat options might also have high amounts of added sugar in them, warns Bupa.

According to Jiantao Ma, M.D., Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow at the NIH and co-leader of a study examining the effects of added sugar, it’s possible that added sugars may also contribute to insulin resistance, a hormonal imbalance that increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Other key tips to reduce visceral fat

Protein can be a helpful way to lose weight because it makes you feel fuller than carbs and fat do.

“So 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,” advises Bupa.

The health body advises adding protein to every meal you eat.

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

A portion of protein is roughly as big as the palm of your hand.

Other key tips

In addition to eating well, regular physical activity is an effective weapon against 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),” reports Harvard Health.

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