What Is Visceral Fat? And Why Should We Worry About It?
So you want to lose weight. But did you know there are two types of body fat? There is subcutaneous fat which is just below the skin, and visceral fat, which surrounds the internal organs. Visceral fat is the more dangerous of the two and harder to lose. You can easily see visceral fat on most people. It is the protruding belly, known as a “Beer Belly” or “Pot Belly” on men. The medical term is panniculus or pannus. The flab extends over the belt and eliminates the waistline. This results in wearing the belt under a massive bulge. You may also describe these persons as stout, portly, obese, hefty, and rotund and the flab as, blubber, padding or belly fat.
In females, oestrogen causes fat to be stored in the hips, buttocks and thighs. After menopause and as oestrogen produced by the ovaries disappears, fat from these areas migrate to the waist and eventually are stored in the belly. For women, the stored fat in the abdomen can pass for a well along pregnancy. Not a pretty picture!
Studies have shown that individuals with visceral fat are more prone to cardiac problems, high blood pressure diabetes and stroke. Couch potatoes, those who smoke and drink have more intra-abdominal fat than active people that do not. Researchers have identified stress as a cause of stored visceral fat; and have done exhaustive research into why your body shape matters.
Visceral fat is harder to lose, because it is deep rooted in the body tissue. A person can also be within normal weight range, but have excessive fat around body organs. Sad to say, diet and exercise rarely eliminates the paunch. Reconstructive surgery is one option. This by no means implies that you should not go on a reducing diet and increase your physical activity. What it means is that surgery would not be an option until you lose extra fat on your body as you can, thereby qualifying you as a surgical candidate.
Let’s talk about why visceral fat is bad for you. Fat cells actually have a purpose, in maintaining triglycerides, fatty acid levels and determines insulin resistance, as well as determining insulin resistance. The opposite of too much fat is depletion of fat as in anorexia. Without fat, there is a gaunt unhealthy appearance to the body. Abdominal fat differs from other fats because it suppresses the production of insulin, which causes diabetes. Because of the nature of fat cells, they are not stored passively until needed. Instead, fat is constantly being stored and released from each cell. You have probably guessed except visceral fat, where the main feature is that it suppresses insulin levels more readily than other fats. In fact, the reason it is harder to lose this type of fat, is because the liver metabolises it and released into the bloodstream as cholesterol. “Bad” cholesterol that is low-density protein (LDL) is plaque that blocks the arteries. How much fat a person eats makes a difference as studies have shown that people who eat a diet composed of more than 30% fat usually have high amounts of visceral fat.
So there you have it the low down on “belly” fat. There has been uproar this holiday season about Santa. Health professionals have proclaimed that Santa Claus is giving the wrong message to children because he is too overweight. Also, notice that he has an unhealthy amount of visceral fat. From what we know now, Santa’s life expectancy is in question. So those, “in the know”, suggest we leave fruits and fresh vegetables for Santa instead of cookies!