This Is the #1 Worst Food for Visceral Fat, According to Registered Dietitians

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Even the healthiest people have visceral fat, which is the belly fat deep within the abdominal cavity surrounding vital organs—including the stomach, liver and intestines.

While some levels of the fat help protect your organs, excess visceral fat can be harmful to them, eventually leading to various health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke or fatty liver disease, explains Kayla Kopp, RD, Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.

What Is Visceral Fat and How Does it Form?

“Visceral fat is any excess belly fat that forms deep inside your abdomen,” explains Kopp. The other type of fat, subcutaneous, is the kind that forms underneath your skin.

Visceral fat forms the same way other types of fat form: “When an individual is consuming too many calories or is not participating frequently in physical activity,” explains Kopp. Genetics can also play a role in the formation of this type of fat, as some bodies store more fat around this area than others.

The best way to know if you have excess visceral fat? Visceral fat makes up 10 percent of your body fat. If your body fat is higher than recommended, your visceral fat range is likely above average as well. There is also research linking a growing belly, or “potbelly,” to excess visceral fat.

Related: 30 Ways to Lose Belly Fat

What Is the Worst Food for Visceral Fat?

Certain types of food are more likely to cause visceral fat than others. Kopp reveals that the worst offenders are those that contain saturated fats or trans fats. “These types of fats break down a lot slower than unsaturated fats and are more likely to be stored as visceral fat,” she explains.

Some examples of these fats include any and all fried foods, processed meats (like bacon and sausage), full-fat dairy products and most baked goods. “You’ll also notice that these foods are all relatively high in calories,” Kopp points out.

Other foods to avoid include products high in refined sugars “like soda, candy, cookies, cakes and ice cream,” she says. “These food items are all high in simple carbohydrates, which tend to store fat around the abdominal area.”

Related: 20 Drinks That Can Help You Lose Weight (It’s Not Just Water!)

What Are the Best Foods for Visceral Fat?

The best way to prevent excess visceral fat is to maintain a healthy diet. “Choose whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and low-fat dairy products,” suggests Kopp.

The best fruits on this list include berries, apples, bananas, oranges and melons. Veggies can be beneficial as well as spinach, asparagus, peppers, onions, mushrooms and broccoli.

Kopp also recommends good carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat pasta, and sticking to lean proteins, including chicken, turkey, eggs and fish. Avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, nut butter and fatty fish are great sources of healthy fats, per Kopp. And, instead of full-fat dairy, reap the calcium benefits of low-fat plain yogurt, cheese, milk and cottage cheese.

Next up: This Is the Best Food for Visceral Fat Loss, According to Registered Dietitians and Physicians