The Dangers of Visceral Fat
Tips for Taking It Off
A group of men and women ages 40 to 65 were able to prevent accumulation of visceral fat by walking on a treadmill for an average of 11 miles a week over a period of eight months. A second group, who logged just six more miles a week -- for a total of 17 miles -- not only prevented visceral fat accumulation but melted off an average of 8 percent over the same eight-month period. A third group, who did not exercise at all, actually saw an increase in the percentage of overall visceral fat by as much as 9 percent in the same time frame. "Compared with subcutaneous fat, which lies just beneath the skin, visceral fat is quicker to respond to exercise," explains Tim Church, MD, medical director at the Cooper Institute in Dallas. If you exercise, "the numbers on the scale may not drop, but your pants size will." Fortunately, spending hours at the gym isn't the only way to melt away this fat. Forty-five to 60 minutes of physical activity most days a week should be enough, says Dr. Church. Try brisk walking -- it's easy to incorporate into your day. And to keep visceral fat from accumulating in the first place, eat more polyunsaturated fats such as fish, vegetable oils, and nuts, and less of the saturated fat found in meat, butter, milk, and cheese. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that people whose diets were rich in saturated fat, rather than polyunsaturated fat, stored excess flab around their middles. "Even if your diet doesn't change much in terms of calories, simply swapping polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat would be helpful," says senior study author Kerry Stewart, EdD, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins.