Visceral fat is denser than subcutaneous fat. It’s stored deep in the body, surrounding your organs. A moderate amount of visceral fat is healthy [E1], because it insulates and protects your organs and plays a role in hormone regulation [E2]. However, too much visceral fat can be deadly.
What Causes Visceral Fat?
Many factors impact the way your body stores fat, including genetics, diet, stress, hormone levels, and lack of exercise. Some people are just more inclined to store fat around the middle than others. The way you handle stress also impacts how fat is stored. When your body senses danger (whether real or perceived) it produces cortisol – the “fight-or-flight” hormone. Elevated cortisol levels cause digestion to slow. Over time this disrupts your body’s normal fat hormone function [E4], which causes it to pack on and retain more visceral fat.
The dangers associated with elevated levels of visceral fat aren’t limited to the obese. Even people considered “classically thin” can unknowingly be at risk.
How do you know if you have excess visceral fat?
Fortunately, there are a number of indicators that can help determine if your body is storing an unhealthy amount of visceral fat. A good place to start is by comparing your relative size and proportions. As a general rule, waist circumference should be less than 40 inches for men and 35 for women [E6]. And the ratio of waist to hips should be less than 1 for men and less than 0.8 for women. The formula for calculating waist to hip is waist divided by hip. It’s important to note that while excess visceral fat often expands the waistline by pushing the mid-section out, some thin people with relatively small waistlines can also be at risk.
Technology reveals more than the eye can see.
Body scanning technology, like the 3D body scan that we use at Next Age Fitness can offer critical information beyond what you can measure with a scale or tape measure; in addition, it also provides you with the most popular measurements taken. With a 3D body scan, we can track your body’s percentage of fat vs lean mass. We can also track other health markers that will help you understand your risk associated with the way your body stores fat such as waist to hip ratio and torso volume vs leg volume (which can only be done with scanning, either DEXA or our 3d scanning). Knowing these numbers is incredibly helpful for establishing a baseline and in creating a plan to maintain or improve your health. It’s also important, in tracking your overall health, to be aware of changes in these numbers, particularly in relationship to changes in your diet, exercise, and age.
How to reduce visceral fat.
When you notice your pants getting tighter at the waist it’s tempting to think about exercise for quick spot reduction. But the truth is, exercise doesn’t eliminate fat in just one area like that. And while liposuction might help in reducing spots of subcutaneous fat, visceral fat is stored too deep in the abdomen for this type of procedure to be effective. Reducing your fat (both subcutaneous and visceral) requires a more holistic approach which gives you more bang for your effort. Here are some steps you can take to be healthier:
The good news about visceral fat – in case you thought it was all bad – visceral fat around the belly can respond better to diet and exercise. Taking on any one of these practices should help you say goodbye to that dense fat and hello to a healthier you.
Next Age Fitness Staff
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