A friend once stated to me, while we were on our evening walk in the crisp October air, that all she had to eat was a half a box of cheez-its and take a multi vitamin and still be healthy.
There is a common belief in the health community that weight loss and overall health, requires calorie counting and restriction. Although this may be partially true, the sad and rather disappointing truth is that restricting calories, so that you can lose weight or to be healthy, is far more complicated than that. A 260 calorie snickers bar is not the same as eating 260 calorie apple with almond butter. If you cut calories and still find yourself eating a diet full of salty French fries, glazed doughnuts or a Starbucks mocha Frappuccinos on a regular basis, your health suffers.
It’s no secret that fast and processed foods are bad for you, but a recent study from “Obesity Society,” shows that the impact of diet quality in mid-to-late-adulthood can drastically reduce or prevent accumulation of fat around your organs, midsection and liver. People who ate a low-calorie diet, but who still ate an unhealthy diet, increased their visceral fat. This means that even those who reduced calories may look healthy on the outside but may still be suffering on the inside.
Your body is made up of visceral, brown and white fat. Visceral fat, the fat found around your midsection and organs, can lead to inflammation and it interferes with hormones, it can also lead to arthritis, belly fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, cancer, dementia, depression, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, sleep disorders and stroke. The biggest problem is that once you have this type of fat it’s the hardest to lose.
Gertraud Maskarinec, MD, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology at University of Hawaii Cancer Center who worked on the study said, “The message that diet quality, not just quantity, matters is important for everyone who wants to maintain both a healthy body weight and a healthy metabolism.”
If you want to reduce visceral fat the easiest way… is to not get it in the first place. However, if you have it, try engaging in high intensity interval training. Take a boot camp class, or practice sprints or participate in my personal favorite: Crossfit! Some foods to steer clear of include refined grains like white bread, pastries, high sugar foods, white rice and fried foods like chips and French fries. Alcohol is another culprit, it too can lead to visceral fat, so drink in moderation. Fill your plate with slow burning grains like brown rice, quinoa, 100% whole wheat bread and mounds of colorful fruit and veggies. Don’t forget to choose lean meat like chicken and fish over red meat for your waist line!
- Maskarinec, G., Lim, U., Jacobs, S., Monroe, K., Ernst, T., Buchthal, S., Shepherd, J., Wilkens, L., Le Marchand, L. and Boushey, C. (2017). Diet Quality in Midadulthood Predicts Visceral Adiposity and Liver Fatness in Older Ages: The Multiethnic Cohort Study. [online] Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21868/full [Accessed 3 Aug. 2017].