What are non-surgical weight loss strategies for abdominal obesity?

Heather Campbell
 min read

What are non-surgical weight loss strategies for abdominal obesity?

What are non-surgical weight loss strategies for abdominal obesity?Abdominal obesity is when excessive visceral fat has accumulated around the stomach and abdomen, harming our health.

There are a number of surgical options to eliminate abdominal obesity. However, if surgery is not an option, seek to reduce stress, sleep well and enough, get enough regular exercise, stop smoking and drinking, and make the right nutritional choices to eat healthily.

This visceral fat, also known as organ fat or intra-abdominal fat, is located in the peritoneal cavity, packed between the internal organs and the trunk.

This is in contrast to subcutaneous fat, which is located under the skin, and intramuscular fat, which is found scattered around the skeletal muscles.

Abdominal obesity is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other metabolic and vascular diseases. Read on to understand what your options are.

What are non-surgical weight loss strategies for abdominal obesity? Introduction

Visceral fat has a bad name. It is the fat that sits around your organs and increases the risk of diabetes or stroke. Yet this organ fat also has utility because it protects our organs from blows and bumps.

However, it becomes dangerous if you have too much of it. The disadvantage is that it is not always visible.

Even if you are slim and have a healthy weight, you can still have it.

This article tells you everything you should know about abdominal obesity and organ fat.

Visceral fat: What is it, and where is it located?

There are 2 types of belly fat:

  • Subcutaneous fat: That’s the fat between your abs and your skin.
  • Visceral fat: That’s the fat under your abdominal muscles, between the organs.

Visceral fat is found in the abdominal cavity, around your organs, especially around the liver, stomach, and intestines. It can also accumulate in the veins.

On the other hand, subcutaneous abdominal fat is visible as a soft layer that you can even grasp with your fingers. This is not possible with visceral belly fat. That’s deeper in the abdominal cavity.

If you have too much visceral fat, it will push the abdominal wall outward. Because this type of organ fat is underneath the muscles, unlike subcutaneous belly fat, the abdomen actually feels hard.

This is most common in men. We often call this bulging, bloated belly a beer belly, even though beer may not be the cause.

The difference between these two types of fat is the location. Subcutaneous fat can be found in the abdomen and on your upper legs, buttocks, and upper arms.

Related post: Best fitness exercises for wheelchair users: Upper body workout ideas to get fit

Visceral fat is really only in the abdominal cavity. Subcutaneous belly fat is not as pretty to look at but is not nearly as dangerous as visceral fat.

So even though you can’t see this visceral fat right away with the naked eye, it is a problem you should address sooner rather than later.

Did you know that visceral fat is also called active fat and can actively contribute to serious health problems? So what are non-surgical weight loss strategies for abdominal obesity?

The causes of excess visceral fat

Why does the body store this unhealthy fat in the first place?

There is a lot of scientific research on this, and there are probably several reasons.

The simplest is that most people just eat too many calories. When you eat more calories than you consume, this excess is stored as fat.

Smoking, drinking alcohol, and lack of exercise also play a role in forming visceral belly fat.

Another factor that is probably important is stress. In fact, several studies have shown that the body produces more cortisol under the influence of stress and that this hormone can prompt the body to store more visceral fat.

What are the harmful effects of visceral fat?

Unfortunately, this type of fat can be dangerous to your health in several ways:

  • Visceral fat produces inflammatory substances. As a result, the fat can cause long-term, low-grade inflammation and thus increase the risk of chronic disease. In this way, for example, it can be the underlying cause of heart disease. These chronic inflammations can cause plaque in veins, which increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Visceral fat can increase insulin resistance. It is not yet clear exactly how this will work. Studies indicate that this hidden fat secretes a protein that increases your insulin resistance. This fat can also cause symptoms because it produces all kinds of substances that burden your organs. The fat itself produces hormones that harm fat burning. These hormones can even cause your body to store even more fat.
  • Organ fat is around the organs. When you have too much of this fat, it starts to press against your organs, such as your liver, kidneys, and stomach. Everything comes to a head, and the organs will slowly but surely become unable to function correctly.

Effect of visceral fat on the portal vein

Scientists believe that proximity to the portal vein is also why visceral fat is so harmful.

The portal vein transports blood from the intestines, pancreas, and spleen to the liver.

However, the visceral fat that surrounds the organs releases various substances such as inflammatory markers and free fatty acids.

These also enter the liver through the portal vein (in combination with the blood).

This can cause fats to accumulate in the liver, which can cause insulin resistance in the liver and type 2 diabetes.

Visceral fat has significant negative health consequences

So it’s pretty clear that visceral fat can have a significant negative impact on health.

If you suffer a lot from this type of internal organ fat, you are more likely to have the conditions listed below:

  • Dyslipidemia
  • Bowel cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Strokes
  • High blood pressure
  • Breast cancer

How do you find out if you have visceral fat?

Because this fat is hidden under the abdominal muscles, you cannot say for sure if and how much you have of this organ fat. The only way to make this visible is through a CT or MRI scan.

But this comes at quite a cost. By asking questions about their lifestyle and diet, a doctor will be able to find out if they have a high risk of visceral fat.

According to various studies, it is estimated that about 10% of your total body fat is visceral fat.

There are 3 other ways to determine if you have visceral fat:

A body scan

If you choose a professional body scan, where the percentage of body fat can be measured, you will get a value between 1 and 59.

If the number is below 13, then you are healthy.

But if it is 13 or higher, then your visceral fat percentage is too high, and it would be best to make some adjustments in your diet and lifestyle.

Your body shape

Your body shape is also something by which you can tell if you are more likely to have this hidden visceral fat.

For example, you may have more fat stored in your hips and thighs. Your body is then shaped a bit like a pear.

Fat around the hips is a less active form of fat and therefore less harmful.

Those who suffer from visceral fat store it mainly around the abdomen. In this case, the body is shaped like an apple.

So you can already deduce something from the shape of your body.

In other words, does your body have an apple shape due to a round belly? Then chances are pretty good that you have too much unhealthy visceral fat in the abdomen.

Measuring the abdominal circumference

Another way to determine the presence of this type of fat is by measuring your abdominal circumference.

The doctor can do this, but you can also easily do it with a tape measure.

How to fight abdominal obesity and eliminate visceral fat?

You can address excess visceral fat in several ways:

  • Reduce stress and get a good night’s sleep
  • Get more exercise and participate in sports
  • Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Eating less and healthier

Reduce stress and get a good night’s sleep

As mentioned above, stress significantly impacts the likelihood of suffering from visceral fat, so you may need to make some lifestyle changes.

If you suffer from a lot of stress, now might be the time to do something about it.

Be realistic, avoiding stress altogether often doesn’t work, but you can look for ways to deal with it differently.

Take a mindfulness course or start meditating or doing yoga. These techniques can help you look at your thoughts, (anxiety) feelings, and environmental factors differently.

Ensure you have a healthy sleep rhythm. A good night’s sleep gives you more energy, allowing you to handle stress better.

Exercise more against visceral fat

To lose fat, it is essential to do some exercise every day.

You don’t have to exercise vigorously every day, but try to do so two to three times a week.

Cardio training is beneficial, but strength training also has benefits in the long run if you want to lose fat.

Cardio sports you can do include:

  • Interval training (HIIT training)
  • Swimming
  • Running or jogging
  • Bicycles

Strength training also offers long-term benefits because your muscles need a lot of energy.

So the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn in a day, even when you are at rest.

Therefore, in addition to fitness training, it is helpful to strengthen your muscles.

Stop smoking and be careful with alcohol

Both alcohol and smoking are linked to higher amounts of visceral fat.

Therefore, stop smoking decisively and limit your alcohol consumption to a few drinks a week.

Tip: If you’re really actively trying to lower visceral fat in your belly, it’s best to stop drinking alcohol altogether.

Eat less and healthier

You can lose fat thanks to the creation of a negative energy balance. Your body takes in less energy (calories) than it burns with a negative energy balance.

Your body then begins to use body fat as an energy source. So if you want to lose (visceral) fat, you will need to ensure a negative energy balance.

For this, you can follow a healthy and balanced diet to lose fat healthily…

Choose high-protein foods

There are 3 reasons why eating high-protein foods can help in the fight against visceral fat:

  1. Less hunger: Proteins stimulate the production of a hormone that inhibits appetite. At the same time, the production of the hormone that causes hunger (ghrelin) is suppressed.
  2. Proteins stimulate fat burning. It takes the body more energy to burn protein, making for a faster metabolism.
  3. Proteins saturate well. Because they take longer to digest, you are left with a nice full feeling after eating. This will make you less inclined to reach for an unhealthy snack between meals.

Eat more high-fiber foods

Eating fiber-rich foods can also help reduce visceral fat and make it easier to lose weight. This is because after eating products that are high in fiber, you experience a feeling of satiety (fullness).

This is because fiber absorbs a lot of moisture and thus fills up the stomach and intestines nicely. Because fiber cannot be digested, it has a retarding effect on digestion.

In this way, fiber helps you to eat less and thus can be helpful if you want to lose weight.

Related: Check our other article for helpful diet tips for abs: Best diet for abs: 8 Super tips to reveal & define your abs

What are non-surgical weight loss strategies for abdominal obesity? Conclusion

If going under the knife frightens you, then the right right non-surgical weight loss strategy for abdominal obesity can be as simple as choosing the right nutrition and exercise to help you combat visceral fat.

About Heather Campbell

As a dietitian, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More