Visceral fat is internal fat. It wraps around organs like your heart, liver, and kidneys. It fills up all the space in your abdominal cavity, so there’s no room left for your organs, nerves, and vessels to function properly.
It’s far more dangerous to your health than subcutaneous fat, which lies right beneath your skin. Subcutaneous fat is what you poke at and pinch. Like the “spare tire” you get around your middle.
Visceral fat is connected to body-wide inflammation
Visceral fat is a storehouse for toxins that pump directly into your body. When you have too much visceral fat, you can almost guarantee you’ll develop heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Too much of it produces excess secretion of a substance called adipokine. This causes body-wide inflammation that leads to these diseases.(1)
You don’t have to be overweight to have it. Over 30 million normal-weight Americans have high levels of visceral fat. You can be perfectly thin on the outside and fat on the inside.
You see, your body gets to choose the type of fuel it burns during exercise. And any time you exercise at a medium pace for a long time, your body chooses fat as its fuel.
While that may sound like a good thing, it’s really the worst thing you can do. You don’t want to use fat during exercise, because it’s telling your body that you need fat for fuel. Your body hears, “Make more fat!” and it delivers. So, once you’re done exercising, your body continues to make fat and tuck it around your organs. Now you have even more fat to use as an energy source the next time you jump on the treadmill.
Short-burst exercise is the best way to bust through visceral fat
A much better way to get rid of deadly visceral fat is short-burst exercise. I use this principle in all of my exercise programs for my patients at my clinic.
Here’s the point you need to know …
Real fat burning doesn’t take place during exercise. It takes place after you exercise, as you recover. We call this “the afterburn,” and it’s one of the keys to PACE.
Short-burst exercise is simply short periods of exertion followed by rest. You start at the intensity and speed that’s right for you and gradually increase it until you’re breathing heavily. Then you stop and recover.
Short-burst exercise tells your body that you don’t have to make more fat and squirrel it away for the next time. You’re not going to exercise long enough to use it for fuel, so why make more fat?
Carbs for fuel during exercise and fat for long afterward
Instead, when you keep your sessions brief, you use carbs for fuel during exercise and then use fat long afterward. Ten to 12 minutes is all you need to rev up your metabolism. Then, during times of rest, your metabolism burns up your visceral fat.
Visceral fat disappears very quickly when you exercise this way. When you follow this plan instead of doing hours of cardio, you burn up to 9 times the fat for every calorie burned.(2)
You can choose any form of exercise you like. It can be calisthenics or as simple as walking. The key is to start where you’re comfortable and build from there. Here’s a routine you can try at home:
- Begin walking for a few minutes at a comfortable pace to warm up.
- Increase the pace and lengthen your strides. Let your body adapt.
- Now step up the pace until you’re breathing heavy. Keep up the pace for 2-3 minutes.
- Now recover. Keep track of how long it takes your heart rate to return to normal.
- Once your heart rate drops down, do another set. Do this between 2 and 5 times, depending on how you feel.
Combine your short-burst exercise program with a high-protein, low-glycemic diet. You’ll get the best results this way.
1. Fontana L., et al. “Visceral fat adipokine secretion is associated with systemic inflammation in obese humans.” Diabetes. 2007 Apr;56(4):1010-3.
2. Tremblay, A. Simoneau, JA., Bouchard, C., “Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism.” Metabolism. 1994;43(7):814-818.
Dr. Al Sears is fast becoming the nation's leading authority on longevity and heart health. His cutting edge breakthroughs and commanding knowledge of alternative medicine have been transforming the lives of his patients for over 15 years.
Dr. Sears currently owns and operates a successful integrative medicine and anti-aging clinic in Wellington, Florida with over 15,000 patients. Over the course of his career, he has developed his own approach to heart health, longevity and anti-aging medicine - combining the best of modern medical science with natural holistic techniques and treatments.