Visceral Fat Guide—What It Is And How To Get Rid of It

Visceral fat is fat that is stored around the organs inside the belly. In research, visceral fat is distinct from regular fat (called subcutaneous fat.) Inside this article, we’ll look at why someone might gain visceral fat and how to fix it so it’ll melt away for good.

What Is Visceral Fat?

Visceral fat is the fat stored in the abdominal area, around the belly. This type of fat wraps up the intestines and organs with a protective coating of fat, like a bubble wrap. This extra fat pushes out the belly, increasing waist size, and it is stubborn and hard to melt away.

Visceral Fat Is Linked To Chronic Inflammation

Visceral fat is linked to something called chronic inflammation. Both chronic inflammation and visceral fat are linked to health issues, including:

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • arthritis
  • allergies
  • insulin resistance
  • sleep apnea
  • reduced bone density
  • PCOS
  • brain and mental health

Lancet Diabates Journal: Position Statement On Visceral Fat

In a 2019 position paper in the Lancet Diabetes journal titled “Visceral and ectopic fat, atherosclerosis, and cardiometabolic disease: a position statement,” the researchers cover important points:

Visceral And Ectopic Fat Lancet Journal Paper What Is It?

  • Obesity has doubled in more than 70 countries since 1980.
  • BMI doesn’t capture the full picture of metabolic risks like heart disease and diabetes due to different risk profiles of different types of fat. For example, your weight doesn’t matter as much as your waist size (circumference.) You can be skinny to the point of being underweight, but if you have a lot of belly fat, you can still be at risk of diabetes and heart disease.
  • DEXA scans are “feasible” alternatives to CT and MRI scans for measuring visceral fat. Anyone can go get a DEXA, but that’s probably not needed, as even just a waist measurement or noticing if you have a belly will be accurate enough.
  • “Increased triglyceride levels has been associated with a high probability (around 80%) of increased [visceral fat tissue] levels.”
    • If you have high triglycerides or other markers of insulin resistance, you probably have high levels of visceral fat.
  • “Excess visceral [fat tissue] is characterised by increased visceral and ectopic fat deposition, adipocyte dysfunction, inflammatory and adipokine dysregulation, and insulin resistance.”
  • “The mechanisms by which an excess of [visceral fat tissue] is related to various health outcomes are not fully understood and are under investigation.”

Visceral Fat Is Linked To Numerous Health Issues

So here’s all that in English.

Obesity is increasing pretty much everywhere in the world.

If you’re skinny or “normal” weight, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You can be skinny-fat—which is low levels of muscle mass combined with higher levels of visceral fat around the belly.

Anyone with raised levels of triglycerides, insulin resistance, or a bit of a belly is at risk of developing health issues like heart disease and diabetes.

Visceral Fat Is Linked To Ectopic Fat

If you have visceral fat, you more than likely already have some level of ectopic fat. Ectopic fat is when fat is stored in non-traditional fatty areas, such as a fatty liver, fatty pancreas, fatty heart, etc.

The Lancet Diabetes Journal study authors agree that they don’t have a clear-cut answer in evidence to solve this problem and that more research needs to be done.

Notably, the researchers agreed on three positions:

  1. Visceral fat is different from regular, pinchable subcutaneous fat.
  2. Excess visceral fat is linked to inflammation.
  3. Visceral fat is a signal of ectopic fat (fat in the heart, liver, pancreas, etc.)

This means that stubborn fat is real and is known as visceral fat.

Stubborn, visceral fat is linked to fatty liver, fatty pancreas, and a fatty heart.

Stubborn fat responds differently than regular fat (subcutaneous fat).

A calorie deficit won’t generally help with visceral fat. Eventually, you’ll need to go back to eating at a calorie maintenance at some point.

The researchers then detailed a couple of studies showing that both exercise and eating a lower-carb diet could help preferentially reduce visceral and organ fat—even without significant weight loss. (My take: there’s nuance here… not all carbs cause inflammation.)

So, my key point today, to share with you, is to stop focusing on your weight and the number on the scale.

You can be skinny and still be inching more closely to metabolic diseases like heart and liver problems.

You can be overweight and do crash dieting to drop 30 pounds (by losing muscle mass and organ weight) and not make any progress toward feeling or looking any better because you didn’t make many processes battling the visceral fat.

Instead, you want to focus on reducing chronic inflammation, which will naturally shrink your waist size.

How Do You Know If You’re Melting Visceral Fat

You can get a DEXA scan, but they aren’t cheap and it exposes you to some radiation. They also take time and effort.You need to take time out of your day to travel, park, and get undressed, and then do the scan.

The most practical way I’ve found is to:

  • measure your waist size weekly with tailors tape
  • pay attention to your belly in the mirror (You could take pictures as well.)

For men, you may also want to track your shoulder circumference. That will show changes in your upper body muscles and fat loss there. 

For women, they may want to measure their hip circumference, which will show fat loss and changes in muscles in the glutes.

How Do You Fix Visceral Fat?

As discussed by the researchers in the Lancet Diabetes paper, visceral and ectopic fat is linked to inflammation. You must work on combatting inflammation.

Resolving inflammation will not only make you feel better, but you’ll look better. It will make you stronger and leaner without trying harder.

It’s crazy where this “ectopic” inflammation fat ends up too. It doesn’t just store around the stomach area.

Once you start working on inflammation, you might be like me and notice that your face looks less puffy. (I knew about neck fat and belly fat, but for the longest time, I had no idea that you could store that inflammation-related fat on your face.)

Inflammation Fat In Face Puffy Jared Polowick Outlive

How Do You Fix Inflammation To Melt Visceral Fat?

The Outlive courses and programs talk about this in-depth because there are hundreds of factors that can cause inflammation in your body. Men and women have different sources of inflammation (for example, women taking birth control and men often having toxic fumes and metal exposures at work).

Some beginner things that are inflammatory to cut out or limit includes:

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Ultra-processed foods
  • Processed sugars
  • Processed fats
  • Deep-fried foods
  • An indoor, sedentary lifestyle

Exercising Can Help Visceral Fat—But Doesn’t Solve The Root Cause

Exercise won’t fix the root cause of inflammation, but it can help you get faster results. 

Better blood flow reduces waste build-up and brings healing nutrients to the organs. For example, walking more can help bring blood flow, which will carry away waste and bring healing nutrients. The calf muscle will often act as the “second heart,” helping to move blood better.

Lifting weights can help to burn high blood sugars without using insulin, and it will help shift your appetite. One person once said that without lifting, they feel like eating pizza. After lifting weights, they feel like eating something more substantial and protein-heavy, like a steak.

So it’s not necessary to do a lot of exercise, but if you’re up for it, it can bring results even faster, and it’s healthy to do. Looking better by placing some muscle in all the right spots through lifting weights a couple of times a week doesn’t hurt either!

But if you don’t want to exercise too much, you can pay more attention to your diet, lifestyle, and environment.

How To Get Started Melting Visceral Fat As a Beginner

  • Improve your diet.
    • Eat less processed sugars, processed fats, and processed foods in general.
    • Eat more fresh fruit, frozen fruit, and berries.
    • Eat more fish and high-quality ruminant meat that has been raised outside in the pasture.
    • Eat more local raw honey, which has been shown to improve gut health, helping to fight against inflammation.
    • Avoid any foods that you are intolerant to (if you get acid reflux from a certain food, avoid it.)
    • Limit alcohol intake, and if that’s not possible for your personality, do not consume any alcohol at all.
  • Improve your lifestyle.
    • Take a daily walk outside in the sunshine.
    • Track daily steps and aim for at least 7,500 steps a day, with 10,000 steps a day being best for the quickest results.
    • Begin lifting weights. Lifting weights is for everybody and can be as simple as lifting once a week with moderate weights. (You don’t need to lift ultra heavy and hurt your joints.)
    • Does your medication have any side effects? Some are known to cause “weight-gain.” Discuss any concerns with a professional.
  • Improve your environment.
    • Does your house have any mould damage?
    • What is the quality of municipal tap water?
    • Does your house get enough fresh air circulation to prevent CO2 build-up?
  • Improve your sleep.
    • Get at least 7 hours each night, if not 8 hours.
    • Sleep in a dark, cool, and quiet room.
    • Upgrade to 100% cotton sheets to help you stay comfortable.
    • Remove the TV from the bedroom.
    • Improve house lighting to improve circadian rhythm.
    • Get outdoor time each and every day to allow for enough melatonin production at night.


Visceral fat is linked to inflammation. Work on exposing yourself less to inflammatory things. Work on increasing anti-inflammatory things. Measure your waist weekly, and pay attention to any visual changes in the mirror.

If you want more tips, be sure to join our free weekly newsletter. If you want a full solution, you can check out the Outlive programs, which include a full diet, workout programs, how to adjust your lifestyle and environment, and private coaching in the community.

Burn Stubborn Fat, Gain Muscle

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