The Effects of Visceral Fat Vs. Subcutaneous Fat
There was a time when fat (adipose tissue) was simply considered an inert tissue that stores fat. We now know fat is metabolically active tissue that synthesizes and secretes hormones. Fat tissue plays a role in insulin sensitivity, inflammatory process mediation, and more.
This is why the effects of visceral fat on health and those of subcutaneous fat are as different as night and day. Let’s start with subcutaneous fat.
Subcutaneous fat is the layer of fat that lies just beneath the skin. It is the fat you can pinch beneath your fingers, the fat that jiggles and dimples, and it is distributed throughout your entire body. Wherever you have skin, you have a layer of subcutaneous fat beneath it. Evidence suggests subcutaneous fat may actually be good for your health. Research shows subcutaneous fat may improve glucose metabolism for better blood sugar control.
Visceral fat lies deep within the abdominal cavity, surrounding and at times even wrapping around vital organs, such as the kidneys, pancreas, and liver. You cannot see or feel visceral fat. But the effects of visceral fat located so close to these organs increase the risk for many serious health conditions.
Researchers have learned that visceral fat pumps immune system and inflammatory chemicals, which they believe probably enters the nearby portal vein of the intestine. These chemicals are then carried to the liver and cause cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and other serious conditions.
The Effects of Visceral Fat on Body Shape: How to Tell by Appearance
Though you cannot see visceral fat, there are a few ways that appearance can indicate the likely presence of visceral fat.
The best way to see the effects of visceral fat on body shape is to look at yourself in a full-length mirror. Are you pear shaped or apple shaped? You see, if most of your fat is in the lower half of your body (your butt, thighs, etc.), you have a pear-shaped body, and your fat is likely to be subcutaneous.
If most of your fat is in the upper part of your body, the abdominal area, you are likely to have a large amount of visceral fat.
Looking in the mirror is not the only way to know if you might have visceral fat. You can also simply measure the circumference of your waist. If your waist circumference is 35 or more inches if a woman, or 40 or more inches if a man, you likely have a high level of visceral fat.
If you want to be absolutely sure you have visceral fat, you can schedule an MRI with your healthcare provider. Though an MRI is expensive, it will give you a visual look at the amount of visceral fat surrounding your organs.
Skinny Fat: One of the Effects of Visceral Fat that is Invisible
Having a large waist circumference is not always the best way to judge the effects of visceral fat on the body. There was a time when everybody judged one’s health and their risk for health problems based on their level of obvious body fat. In other words, a heavy person was thought to be automatically unhealthy, and a thin person was automatically thought to be healthy.
We now know that this isn’t true. In recent years, the concept of metabolically obese normal weight people came into view. Also known as “skinny fat,” these individuals have too much body fat and not enough muscle. Though they may have a slight pouch to their belly, it is usually not that noticeable. To all appearances, they look thin and healthy.
But underneath this appearance, they have high levels of visceral fat subjecting them to all the potential health problems of an obese individual. This means that thousands of seemingly thin and healthy people are being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes. They may also have cardiovascular disease and strokes.
Being skinny fat is worse than being overweight or obese because those who are thin are typically not screened for obesity-related diseases. After all, their body mass index is normal. Why would doctors worry about them?
The Effects of Visceral Fat on Health
The effects of visceral fat on health are many. Having an excess amount of visceral fat increases your risk for many serious conditions, including:
- Heart Disease
- Abnormal Cholesterol Levels
- High Blood Pressure
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Breast Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Metabolic Syndrome
Causes of Visceral Fat
Though there is a genetic component of visceral fat, the biggest causes of this condition are poor-quality diet and inactivity. Your body is an amazingly complex machine. It knows exactly what to do to keep you healthy, and it knows what to do to heal your body.
The body can handle a large quantity of food with no problem. What it cannot handle are aggressive calories.
You see, not all calories are the same when it comes to being stored as body fat. When you eat, a digestive traffic cop tells calories where to go. How aggressively calories approach this cop determines whether they will be stored as visceral fat or subcutaneous fat.
This digestive traffic cop directs calories to repair, fuel, or fatten us, making sure we have all the nutrients we need to repair our body, give us energy, and keep us from starving. If you have a calm, consistent flow of calories coming into your system, the cop does a great job directing these calories to the places they will do the most good.
But if the digestive cop has to deal with a bunch of aggressive requests all at once, he or she just throws them in the fat cells. For example, when you consume refined carbohydrates and sugars, your body breaks them down into simple sugars (glucose), and then sends it to your bloodstream. Because refined carbs and sugars contain no fiber to slow digestion down, the glucose is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, and your blood glucose levels rise.
Whenever you eat foods that rapidly increase levels of glucose in your bloodstream (called aggressive calories), your body is likely to store the excess glucose as fat. That’s because your body can only deal with a certain amount of glucose at one time. According to researchers, the body has only around 40 calories of glucose circulating in the bloodstream at a time. Anything that exceeds that amount has to be rapidly cleared from the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels normal, which means that most of it ends up in the fat cells.
The same effect does not happen if you eat a lot of non-aggressive calories, such as non-starchy vegetables or protein, that gradually enter the bloodstream over several hours. Your digestive traffic cop can deal with them, and the effects of visceral fat will not apply.
Read More About This Article Here: The Effects of Visceral Fat: What it is and Why You Should Care | Smarter Science Of Slim