Visceral fat is stored in the abdominal cavity – hidden from plain sight. Too much of the stuff can increase the risk of serious health complications, such as heart attacks, heart disease, breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have now shown how a certain eating plan can reduce the harmful belly fat.
In fact, there are several studies that confirm intermittent fasting may help people lose visceral fat.
A large review of studies recorded that following an intermittent fasting plan helped reduce visceral fat by four to seven percent over a period of up to 24 weeks.
Intermittent fasting involved cycling periods of eating and fasting – either completely abstaining from food or eating very little.
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The main focus of intermittent fasting is when you eat, not what you eat (which is typical of any kind of diet).
There are three popular methods of intermittent fasting: the 16/8 method, Eat-Stop-Eat and the 5:2 diet.
The 16/8 method
Also known as the Leangains protocol, the 16/18 method involved skipping breakfast and restricting the eating period to eight hours, such as 11-7pm.
This then means from the evening onwards, till the next brunch time, you’ll spend 16 hours of fasting.
This intermittent fasting method involves fasting for a whole day (24 hours) once or twice a week. A good example of how this works is when you eat dinner then wait till the same time the next day to eat another meal.
The 5:2 diet
For five days you eat normally and, for two non-consecutive days each week, you only consume 500-600 calories.
Believe it or not, intermittent fasting is thought to be more natural than eating three or four meals per day.
This is because, in ancient times, hunter-gathers didn’t have the option of popping to the store and so could not eat for days at a time.
As a result, humans evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time – reportedly, it can stretch pass three weeks (but, of course, this isn’t recommended).
When you fast, several cellular and molecular adjustments start to take place within the body.
For one, the body adjusts hormone levels and insulin sensitivity improves, enabling stored body fat to become more accessible.
Secondly, the levels of growth hormone skyrocket – which has benefits for fat loss and weight gain.
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nd thirdly, when fasting, cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, which is the body’s way of removing old and damaged proteins that build up inside of the body.
Intermittent fasting is thought to reduce calorie intake, and lead to weight loss – just as long as you’re not scoffing away like a starving animal for those moments when you do eat.
Bear in mind that you could be slim on the outside and still be carrying dangerous levels of visceral fat on the inside.
A good way to measure levels of visceral fat – aside from an expensive CT scan – is to get the tape measure out and record your waist to hip ratio.
The simple calculation goes as follows: divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
For men, a waist to hip ratio above one is considered high. It indicates there is visceral fat in the abdomen that needs to be shifted to lead a healthier lifestyle.
For women, a waist to hip ratio above 0.85 is high and this also suggests a dangerous level of visceral fat swirling around the body’s vital organs.
A great way to reduce visceral fat, as well as taking up intermittent fasting, is to do aerobic exercises such as hiking and swimming.
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