Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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Visceral fat belongs to a club of conditions that can hike your risk of heart disease so reducing the amount you carry is paramount. The fat is more stubborn than subcutaneous fat, which lies just under the surface of the skin. Visceral fat neighbours vital organs in the body, such as the liver and intestines. However, you can breach its defences by making sensible dietary decisions.
Some decisions may come as a surprise. For example, coffee lovers can rejoice in the knowledge that the popular drink has been shown to burn belly fat.
“The components of roasted or green coffee beans that promote abdominal fat reduction are not clear,” wrote researchers in a study published in the journal Nutrients.
They investigated the effects of daily consumption of coffee enriched in chlorogenic acids (CGA) – micronutrients found in abundance in coffee – on visceral fat in a randomised, double-blind, parallel controlled trial.
In a double blind study the patient doesn’t know if they’re receiving the experimental treatment, a standard treatment or a placebo, and their doctor doesn’t know.
Healthy, overweight men and women were randomly allocated to high-CGA or control coffee groups.
Instant coffee was consumed once daily for 12 weeks.
Visceral fat area was analysed at baseline and at four, eight, and 12 weeks, and 142 subjects completed the trial.
The researchers found that visceral fat area, total abdominal fat area, body weight, and waist circumference significantly decreased in the CGA group compared with the control group.
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What’s more, changes in visceral fat at baseline (start of the study) to 12 weeks were significantly greater in the CGA group than in the control group.
No severe adverse events occurred.
“Consumption of high-CGA coffee for 12 weeks by overweight adults might lower VFA [visceral fat area], wrote the researchers.
General dietary tips
To maximise the benefits of drinking coffee, you should commit to a belly-busting diet.
Generally, “if you want to reduce your belly fat, you’ll need to burn more calories (energy) than you consume, and eat the right kinds of food”, explains Bupa.
To achieve this, the health body says to try to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg each day, and include higher-fibre starchy foods in meals.
It also advises:
- Have some reduced-fat dairy or soya drinks fortified in calcium
- Eat more beans, pulses, fish and eggs
- Eat small amounts of unsaturated oil
- Drink six to eight glasses of water each day
- Avoid adding salt or sugar to your meals.
“And finally, cut out sports drinks, sugar sweetened drinks and other foods that have a lot of added sugar in them.”
A healthy dietary regime must be complemented with regular physical activity.
“You should try to take part in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, at least five days a week,” advises Holland and Barrett.
The key here is to do what interests you.
Holland and Barrett explains: “So you might fancy a brisk walk to work up a sweat, breathe harder and quicken your heart rate. Or perhaps cycling to work rather than taking the car. Not everyone needs to rush to the gym.”
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