Visceral fat lurks in the spaces between abdominal organs, such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. Carrying an excess amount of it can therefore interfere with vital bodily processes. Over time, this can hike your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Despite the palpable health risks, many people struggle to shift belly fat because it requires overhauling their lifestyle, which can be overwhelming.
If you are just getting started, evidence suggests making even small tweaks can support you on your weight loss journey.
One tweak that may yield promising results is to drink fermented milk containing Lactobacillus Gasseri.
Fermented milk products are created when milk ferments with specific kinds of bacteria - in this case Lactobacillus Gasseri.
In the study, eating yogurt with Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus reduced body fat by three to four percent over a six week period.
Another study of 125 overweight dieters investigated the effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus supplements on weight loss and weight maintenance.
During a three-month study period, the women taking the probiotics lost 50 percent more weight compared to the group taking a dummy pill (placebo).
They also continued to lose weight during the weight maintenance phase of the study.
In addition to increasing your intake of certain dietary items, others are to be avoided if you are looking to lose belly fat.
Generally, you should avoid simple carbohydrates such as white bread, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks, according to Harvard Health.
Instead, opt for complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and lean protein, says the health body.
Exercise also plays an integral role in reducing belly fat.
Studies have shown that you can help trim visceral fat or prevent its growth with both aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) and strength training (exercising with weights).
"Spot exercises, such as sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles but won't get at visceral fat," notes Harvard Health.
Exercise can also help keep fat from coming back - in a study at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, dieting women lost an average of 24 pounds and reduced both visceral and subcutaneous fat (the fat you can pinch), with or without aerobic or strength-training exercise.
In the following year, those who maintained their exercise programs — a modest 40 minutes twice a week — maintained their visceral fat loss, while those who didn't exercise or abandoned their programs showed a 33 percent average increase in visceral fat.