Visceral fat is the type of fat that accumulates around vital organs in the body, such as your liver, pancreas and intestines. This means that carrying excess amounts of it can interfere with vital mechanisms in the body, leading to chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. To ward off the threat of life-threatening complications, it is therefore imperative to keep visceral fat in check.
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The food and drink you consume will directly impact your chances of developing the harmful belly fat so it is important to up your intake of certain items while shunning others.
The trouble is, certain dietary decisions are deceptively risky because they contain hidden risks that may encourage visceral fat.
Fruit juice is one of the primary culprits to watch out for because it contains a lot of sugar.
In fact, nutritional data comparing different drinks shows that a 250 millilitre glass of apple juice contains the same amount of sugar as a glass of cola.
Although fruit juice provides some vitamins and minerals, the fructose it contains can drive insulin resistance and promote belly fat gain – key drivers associated with type 2 diabetes.
Fructose is a simple sugar that is metabolised by the liver and evidence shows that in large amounts, fructose can get turned into fat by the liver and this may increase visceral fat storage.
Strengthening the case for avoiding fructose-rich products, one study found that cutting fructose out of your diet can encourage weight loss.
In a study in 41 children aged nine to 18, scientists replaced fructose in their diets with starch that provided the same amount of calories.
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They found that this simple change reduced liver fat by 3.4 percent and visceral fat by 10.6 percent in just 10 days.
Other reasons to cut out fruit juice
Research investigating the impact fruit juice has on weight gain also notes that is another source of liquid calories that’s easy to consume too much of, yet still fails to satisfy your appetite in the same way as solid food.
According to medical website LiveStrong, fruit juice is also stripped of the fibre found in whole fruit that helps control the rate at which your body absorbs its natural sugars.
“When fruit is stripped of its fibre, as it is when it’s juiced, not only does your body absorb its sugar faster, but there’s more sugar to absorb,” says the health body.
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It adds: “It can take several pieces of fruit to make one glass of fruit juice, which is what makes juice a more concentrated source of sugar.”
Swapping out fruit juice for green tea, on the other hand, may help to curb the harmful belly fat.
Several studies on green tea catechins – compounds naturally found in plants – show that although the weight loss effects are modest, a significant percentage of fat lost is harmful visceral fat.
Other ways to reduce visceral fat
In addition to making dietary tweaks, engaging in physical activity also provides a defence against the harmful belly fat.
For optimal results, you should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, which helps you burn calories, advises LiveStrong.
The health site explains: “A weight loss of five to 10 percent of your total body weight can help reduce visceral fat stores. To achieve that, your daily caloric balance (calories consumed minus calories burned) needs to be negative.”
The health body recommends engaging in any moderate-intensity exercise that gets your heart pumping, such as circuit training, brisk walking, biking.
A University of Virginia study also found that high intensity interval training attacks total abdominal fat, including visceral and subcutaneous fat (the type of fat you can pinch).
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