In a health setting, the word visceral means in or near your vital organs (your viscera). These are the organs deep in your gut, like your stomach and your intestines. Visceral muscles are found in the walls of your visceral organs. Visceral fat surrounds those organs. Since your vital organs are located in your midsection, visceral fat accumulates in the area around your belly.
Obviously, it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat fewer calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later a normal person will give up and eat, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.
Like protein, fiber slows the rate at which your body plows through carb calories so you feel full for longer and maintain steadier blood sugar levels, one reason why research consistently links fiber intake to weight loss. That means fibrous whole grain bread tends to be a better choice than white bread and also explains why fruits, which contain fiber and valuable vitamins in addition to sugar, beat straight-up candy every time.
There is some scientific legitimacy to today’s lower-carb diets: Large amounts of simple carbohydrates from white flour and added sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and lead to weight gain. While avoiding sugar, white rice, and white flour, however, you should eat plenty of whole-grain breads and brown rice. One Harvard study of 74,000 women found that those who ate more than two daily servings of whole grains were 49 percent less likely to be overweight than those who ate the white stuff.
Learning how much to eat by listening to your body is key when it comes to losing weight. I teach my clients to rate their hunger using the ‘Hunger Quotient.’ This is the number (related to a feeling) that describes how hungry you truly are. You want to aim to be between a 6 and a 4 at the beginning and end of your meals and snacks. A 6 is “slightly hungry” and a 4 is “slightly satisfied.” When you skip meals and snacks during the day, your HQ gets thrown off, and you end up making poor food choices and overeating.
While many people turn to artificial sweeteners in a misguided attempt to whittle their waistlines, those fake sugars are likely to have the opposite effect. According to researchers at Yale, artificial sweeteners are actually linked with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and weight gain, possibly because they can trigger cravings for the real stuff and spike insulin levels in a similar fashion to real sugar.