How to lose visceral fat: Increasing your sleep by this amount may reduce belly fat

Visceral fat, also known as belly fat, can present a grave threat because it is located near vital organs such as the intestines and liver. Here it can interfere with vital bodily processes, thereby raising your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Losing visceral fat is therefore essential for prolonging your life.

It is well understood that eating a healthy balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise is fat's worst enemy.

It may come as a surprise to hear that increasing the hours that you sleep may also attack belly fat.

A six-year study including 293 people found that increasing sleep from six hours or less to seven to eight hours reduced visceral fat gain by roughly 26 percent.

Additionally, several studies have linked sleep apnea; a condition that impairs breathing, with a higher risk of gaining visceral fat.

"This programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine," explains the NHS.

Increasing your magnesium intake may also help to promote a good night's sleep.

"This extremely essential mineral is important for managing the GABA receptors, which help calm your central nervous system," explains Holland and Barrett.

"For a better night's sleep, stock up on some magnesium oil," it recommends.

Other tips for tackling visceral fat

Engaging in regular exercise can be a potent weapon against visceral fat buildup.

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).

Exercise can also help keep visceral 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 type of 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, Harvard Health reports.

Particular diets have also proven to be an effective deterrant against visceral fat.

Many studies have shown that low-carb diets are more effective at reducing visceral fat than low-fat diets.

In an eight-week study including 69 overweight men and women, scientists found that people who followed a low-carb diet lost 10 percent more visceral fat and 4.4 percent more total fat than those on a low-fat diet.

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