Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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Visceral fat is fat which wraps around your abdominal organs deep inside your body. You can’t always feel it or see it. In fact, you may have a pretty flat tummy and still have visceral fat. That’s sometimes known as TOFI, or “thin outside fat inside.” Too much of any body fat is bad for your health. Studies suggest that more calcium and vitamin D in your body may be linked to less visceral fat.
When a person has adequate levels of vitamin D in their body, more leptin is released which is the hormone that sends signals to the brain indicating the body has eaten enough food.
Conversely, lacking in vitamin D means less leptin and therefore more food is consumed which swells the belly further.
A study in Australia found those who ate a breakfast which was high in both vitamin D and calcium were able to stunt their appetites for the next 24 hours.
Dr Liz Applegate, director of sports and nutrition at the University of California, added: “Being vitamin D deficient is also linked to insulin resistance which leads to hunger and overeating.”
Vitamin D can help to burn belly fat because vitamin D is known to trigger weight loss.
A German study showed that high levels of vitamin D actually increased the benefits of weight loss, improving cardiovascular risk markers like triglycerides.
Another study from the University of Minnesota found the essential vitamin helps to burn fat particularly in the belly area.
The nutrient may work with calcium to reduce production of cortisol which is the stress hormone synonymous with extra belly fat.
Most milk products boast calcium as well as vitamin D.
Calcium helps to reduce levels of fat-storage hormones.
Dairy is also rich in the amino acid leucine, which helps stimulate muscle growth and fat burning.
The vitamin D and leucine may be why dairy sources of calcium are twice as effective as calcium supplements at burning belly fat.
Health experts advise on loading up on leafy green like collards and spinach, tofu, and sardines to increase the amount of calcium in your diet and help burn belly fat.
A 2010 study by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found, among a group of more than 100 premenopausal women, fat was significantly reduced in those who consumed the most calcium-rich foods.
In fact, for every 100 milligrams of calcium they consumed per day, they lost an inch of intra-belly fat.
Calcium rich foods include sardines, fortified orange juice, tofu, and dark leafy greens like kale and spinach.
On the other hand, certain foods seem to encourage belly fat, said WebMD.
The health site added: “One of them is trans fats, which are found in meats and dairy as well as in deep-fried or processed foods.
“Also bad are sodas, candy, processed baked goods, and other foods sweetened with fructose.
“So read the labels and avoid ingredients like ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ or ‘high-fructose corn syrup’.
“And follow the usual rules for healthy eating, with lots of fresh produce, whole grains like wheat breads and oatmeal, and lean protein like skinless chicken, fish, eggs, beans, and low-fat dairy.”
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