Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
Visceral fat is a type of fat we all have in our bodies.
Located deep within the belly, it is needed to protect and insulate organs.
However, having too much of it has been linked to serious health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
To reduce levels of visceral fat in the body personal trainer and fitness influencer Isabella Murray recommended taking five minutes of every day for a stress relieving activity.
This could be an after dinner walk or meditation, she said.
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Ms Murray said: “Develop daily habits of an after dinner walk or five minutes of meditation daily.
“Five minutes of daily self care like daily mini walks reduce your stress levels to avoid high levels of visceral fat (abdominal fat).
“Stress fat is real and can happen regardless of gender.”
She explained the link between stress and visceral fat.
“Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones produced by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex (outer part of your adrenal gland), when these levels rise due to stress such as cortisol it causes preferential storage of fat in the abdomen leading to visceral fat,” Ms Murray said.
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“High levels of cortisol can also lead to overeating which can put you in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you burn), however even if you don’t over eat your maintenance calories you can still increase visceral fat through stress.
“This is proven in research, there is even research to suggest that focusing on stress management can help reduce abdominal fat without a calorie deficit.
“So make sure you socialise, take time for yourself, medication, take time for you.”
What does research say?
One study, published in Current Obesity Reports in 2018, found a link between obesity and stress, although some people may be more sensitive to the effects than others.
It said: “Stress has long been suspected to be interrelated to (abdominal) obesity. However, interindividual differences in this complex relationship exist.
“We suggest that the extent of glucocorticoid action partly explains these interindividual differences.”
The study concluded: “Stress may play a major role in the development and maintenance of obesity in individuals who have an increased glucocorticoid exposure or sensitivity.
“These insights may lead to more effective and individualised obesity treatment strategies.”
It is not possible to know exactly how much visceral fat you have without imaging tests.
However, you can get a rough idea of whether you have unhealthy levels by measuring around the waist.
For women 35 inches or more can signal visceral fat and for men it’s 40 inches.
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