We all retain body fat differently, resulting in a wide range of body shapes and sizes.There are two different types of fat,visceral vs subcutaneous fat. Some people keep it in their thighs and buttocks, while others keep it in their upper arms and chest.
Some of us have a more evenly distributed body fat, while others have concentrated body fat in specific locations.
While fat in some places may cause us concern, a protruding waistline is the leading cause of health problems, and this is due to the various types and quantities of fat storage we have in our bodies.
Visceral vs Subcutaneous fat are the two main forms of fat stored in our bodies:
Subcutaneous fat is body fat that lies immediately beneath the skin and can be measured with body fat/skin fold callipers.
Visceral fat (also known as abdominal fat) is located within the abdominal cavity, between the stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys, and other organs, making it more difficult to quantify.
What exactly is the distinction?
In addition to serving as energy storage, both subcutaneous and visceral fat have endocrine functions. They secrete hormones and proteins such leptin, adiponectin, IL-6, TNF-, and angiotensin, which aid in the regulation of other organs and activities in our bodies.
Visceral fat, on the other hand, is thought to produce more pro-inflammatory hormones and proteins than subcutaneous fat.
Excess visceral fat is more strongly connected with metabolic disorders (i.e. insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes) and cardiovascular disease than excess subcutaneous fat.
Another theory for why excess visceral fat has more unfavourable health impacts is the proximity of visceral fat to the portal vein (a vein that transports blood straight to the liver).
So, how can I tell if I have an unhealthy amount of visceral fat?
For starters, men are far more prone than women to store fat as visceral fat, whilst women are far more likely to store fat as subcutaneous fat.
This is primarily due to changes in sex hormones, but after women reach menopause, the trend reverses and they are more likely to store it as visceral fat.
Your genetics, like your BMI and obesity, can incline you to having too much or too little visceral fat. It’s been proven that where you keep your fat is genetic. According to the Quebec Family Study, visceral fat has a 56 percent heredity while subcutaneous fat has a 42 percent heritability.
Other investigations have found that fat distribution is highly heritable, with heritability estimates of above 70%, implying a major genetic influence.
Some genetic variants that may affect fat distribution have recently been discovered through scientific investigation. The G allele of PPARG was related with considerably more subcutaneous and visceral fat in overweight (BMI >25) Korean women than the CC allele, albeit the effect on subcutaneous fat appeared to be larger.
While G allele carriers had a higher BMI, they had identical waist circumferences, according to another study4. G allele carriers were shown to have reduced visceral fat.
Many other genes and variations have been linked to fat distribution as well. A multi-national research group recently released a report finding seven novel genetic variants linked to fat distribution features like visceral and subcutaneous fat volume and ratio.
FitnessGenes will keep an eye on this research and be able to provide you with more personalised information about fat distribution and its potential consequences.
Meanwhile, review your FTO, IL6R, ADRB2, and APOA2 gene variations that are linked to obesity risk. While these factors do not always have a direct impact on fat distribution, the greater your risk of having excess visceral fat, the more likely you are to be obese.
There are a variety of scans that can determine your subcutaneous and visceral fat ratio and volume (at varying price points). A basic tape measure can, however, provide a quick and free estimate.
Although it won’t give you accurate data on how much of each sort of fat you have, measuring your waist circumference (WC) can be quite useful.
Men with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches (102 cm) and women with a waist circumference of more than 35 inches (88 cm) are likely to have excess visceral fat and should begin reducing it right away.
Another useful measurement is the size of your hips (the broadest part of your buttocks), which may be coupled with your waist circumference to get your waist-to-hip ratio. A ratio of >0.9 for men and >0.85 for women indicates severe central obesity and visceral fat accumulation.
Although these measurements are far from perfect, they are simple and straightforward for almost everyone to use, and tracking them over time will allow you to see if you are losing weight and fat around your midsection.
What can you do if you think you have a lot of visceral fat on your body?
It’s just like shedding fat from any other part of your body. The sole distinction is that decreasing visceral fat improves metabolic and inflammatory health markers more than losing subcutaneous fat, as indicated by the fact that liposuction (which only removes subcutaneous fat) has no effect on these health indicators6.
The greatest strategy to reduce all types of body fat is to combine an active lifestyle with a healthy, well-balanced diet. High-intensity exercise, specifically visceral fat reduction, has been demonstrated to be particularly effective in some studies7–9. So get ready to race and lift heavy!
How can I begin to lose weight?
If you have a lot of fat around your midsection (or anywhere else) and are unable to sprint on a treadmill or work at a high intensity in general, try the following:
Instead of increasing the treadmill’s speed to run intervals, choose a comfortable walking pace and warm up for 5 minutes while the treadmill’s incline/gradient is level.
Then, to increase the intensity, raise the incline/gradient for 30-60 seconds before returning it to its flat position for 1-2 minutes of active rest. It’s fine if you have to take a break at the beginning to collect your breath.
Depending on how you feel, do this for 10 to 20 repetitions. Increase the pace, gradient, time at higher intensity, number of repetitions, or shorten the time of the active rest periods as you get fitter and lose body fat.
This is beneficial for persons who are overweight since it is considerably gentler on their joints than sprinting or even jogging. If you have joint difficulties (i.e., knees or hips) and even walking is too much for you, swimming is usually the best option.
If swimming in a standard horizontal fashion (e.g., front crawl or breast stroke lengths) is too hard, you don’t have to utilise the pool. Running on the spot, jumping jacks, squat or lunge jumps, or variations and combinations of any of these exercises could be used as a more vertical form of training.
Intervals, rest periods, and repeats are all governed by the same principle.