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How to reduce visceral fat: Three foods that slow metabolism and promote belly fat

Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning

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Unlike the fat you can see, visceral fat neighbours vital organs in the body, such as the liver and intestines. Gaining entry into this area can cause a cascade of problems, such as an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. It can also trigger metabolic disturbances. Disrupting your metabolism – chemical reactions in a living organism that create and break down energy necessary for life – can prove life-threatening.

To provide a buffer against visceral fat, it is vital to keep your metabolism working efficiently.

This means speeding up the rate at which your body expends energy or burns calories.

While certain foods can aid this process, there are a number of items that slow down metabolism.

According to Holland and Barrett, the following foods slow down metabolism:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Fried foods.

What the evidence says

Research published in the journal PLoS One illustrates the impact low-calorie artificial sweeteners can have on visceral fat gain.

Low-calorie sweeteners are often touted as a substitute for sugar that can help to control weight.

However, abdominal obesity often remains “entrenched” despite substantial low-calorie sweetener use, note the researchers in the study.

They sought to evaluate whether chronic low-calorie sweetener use is a risk factor for abdominal obesity.

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To gather their findings, researchers used 8268 anthropometric measurements (measurements and proportions of the human body) and sifted through 3096 food diary records with detailed information on low-calorie sweetener consumption in all food products, from 1454 participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.

The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) is a clinical research program on human ageing that began in 1958 in the US.

The researchers compared 785 low-calorie sweetener non-users and 669 participants were low-calorie sweetener users.

By the end of their study, they found low-calorie sweetener users had a higher body mass index, larger waist circumference and higher incidence of visceral fat than low-calorie sweetener non-users.

Likewise, an investigation published in the journal Genetic Research determined that a refined high carbohydrate diet is associated with visceral fat.

Refined carbs have been stripped of all goodness, such as bran, fibre and nutrients.

Examples include white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour and white rice.

Fried foods are particularly dangerous for visceral fat accumulation because they contain saturated fat.

Recent data shows that overeating saturated fatty acids promotes greater visceral fat storage than overeating unsaturated fatty acids.

Saturated fat is the kind of fat found in butter, lard, ghee, fatty meats and cheese.

Eating a diet high in saturated fat is also associated with raised levels of LDL cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol is a waxy substance that collects on the inside of your arteries.

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