Not all fat is created equally and as opposed to subcutaneous fat, which describes the fat you can pinch, visceral fat lies deep under the surface, near vital organs such as the liver, stomach and intestines. A build-up of visceral fat therefore poses grave health risks, leading to chronic complications such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
READ MORE: Best supplements for weight loss: Expert recommends key nutrient to help you lose weight
Luckily, making positive changes to your diet can help to curb visceral fat, keeping the associated health risks at bay.
One simple dietary tweak shown to reduce the harmful belly fat is to take probiotics – live bacteria that can boost your gut and digestive health.
Probiotics can be taken in supplement form and studies investigating the link between probiotic consumption and visceral fat loss suggest that probiotics may reduce dietary fat absorption in the gut, causing the body to expel more of it out.
In addition, probiotics may help promote higher levels of GLP-1, a fullness hormone, and ANGPTL4, a protein that may help reduce fat storage
However, as soon as participants stopped taking the probiotic, they gained all of the visceral fat back within a month.
Other key dietary tips to reduce harmful belly fat
Exercise also plays a key role in reducing visceral fat and certain exercises have proven to be more beneficial than others in reducing the harmful belly fat.
Harvard Health recommends engaging in regular moderate-intensity physical activity — at least 30 minutes per day (and perhaps up to 60 minutes per day) to control weight and lose belly fat.
Extensive evidence supports this claim, showing that aerobic exercise can help you lose visceral fat, even without dieting
For example, an analysis of 15 studies in 852 people compared how well different types of exercise reduced visceral fat without dieting.
They found that moderate and high-intensity aerobic exercises were most effective at reducing visceral fat without dieting.
What counts as aerobic exercise?
Aerobic exercise is any form of exercise that gets your heart pumping and makes you breathe faster, such as walking, bicycling or swimming.
Strength training (exercising with weights) may also help fight abdominal fat, according to Harvard Health.
Diet also plays a key role in reducing visceral fat, with numerous studies promoting a low-carb diet to combat the harmful belly fat.
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.
Furthermore, the ketogenic diet, which drastically reduce carb intake and replaces it with fat, may also help reduce visceral fat.
A study including 28 overweight and obese adults found that those who followed a ketogenic diet lost more fat, especially visceral fat, than people following a low-fat diet.