Visceral fat: ‘Getting enough sleep’ may be a key factor to lose weight

Dr Sara Kayat reveals belly fat risks can be genetic

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Health Direct says visceral body fat is stored deep inside the belly, wrapped around the organs, including the liver and intestines. It makes up about one tenth of all the fat stored in the body. It explains: “Visceral fat makes the belly stick out or gives a person an ‘apple’ shape. It also produces chemicals and hormones that can be toxic to the body.” The organisation says “getting enough sleep” can help lower your risk.

Adequate sleep is vital for your health, but can be hard to achieve when life is busy, says Health Direct.

It adds: “Scientists don’t fully understand why humans need so much sleep, but it’s believed to help restore the body physically, as well as organise the brain. In short, you need sleep so your body and mind can function properly.

“Sleep is also thought to help keep the immune system strong and the heart and blood vessels healthy.

“It allows for growth and healing, and helps control appetite and weight. Sleep promotes attention, memory and learning.”

The Mayo Clinic says: “Research suggests an association between sleep restriction and negative changes in metabolism.

“In adults, sleeping four hours a night, compared with 10 hours a night, appears to increase hunger and appetite — in particular for calorie-dense foods high in carbohydrates”.

The organisation notes observational studies also suggest a link between sleep restriction and obesity.

It says other studies have found similar patterns in children and adolescents.

It adds: “One explanation might be that sleep duration affects hormones regulating hunger — ghrelin and leptin.

“Another contributing factor might be that lack of sleep leads to fatigue and results in less physical activity.”

The Sleep Foundation says losing sleep can result in having less energy for exercise and physical activity.

It explains: “Getting adequate, quality sleep is an important part of a healthy weight loss plan. Most importantly, research has shown that losing sleep while dieting can reduce the amount of weight lost and encourage overeating.”

If you have insomnia for less than three months, it is called short-term insomnia. Insomnia that lasts three months or longer is called long-term insomnia.

For most, sleep problems tend to sort themselves out within about a month, according to the NHS.

Everyone needs different amounts of sleep. On average adults need seven to nine hours, while children need nine to 13 hours. Toddlers and babies need 12 to 17 hours of sleep, every day.

If poor sleep is affecting your daily life or causing you distress, you can talk to your GP.

The NHS adds: “If you’re overweight, losing weight has many health benefits. Making small, simple changes to what and how much you are eating and drinking can really help you lose the pounds.”

The NHS states that if you’re overweight, changes to your diet and physical activity levels are the first step to helping you lose weight.

“Your GP or practice nurse can help you assess your current diet and levels of physical activity, and set personal goals for change,” it notes.

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