Countless studies have shown that excess weight can be directly related to serious health issues. Being overweight can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, among other things. So you can probably conclude that fat is bad for your health, right? …right? Well, it turns out there are two different types of fat – and only one of them has significant effects on health.
Visceral Fat vs. Subcutaneous Fat
The two types of fat are called visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. What are the differences between the two? Well, simply put, one is pinchable and the other is not. Subcutaneous fat is the layer of fat between your skin and your muscles. This fat causes enlargement of the body and is visible to the naked eye. It is the layer of fat that you can actually feel with your hands, hence being pinchable.
Visceral fat is a little more tricky to understand. Visceral fat is fat that is contained within the abdominal cavity of the body, surrounding the internal organs. In some cases, it can lead to protrusion of the stomach. While you may think visceral fat is not a big deal because you can’t see it, it’s actually far more dangerous than subcutaneous fat. When it comes to weight-related health conditions, it is visceral fat that is most often the culprit.
How Does Visceral Fat Lead To Health Concerns?
Visceral fat leads to more dire health concerns than subcutaneous fat in several ways. First, since visceral fat surrounds your internal organs, it can impair the way those organs function. This includes your heart, liver, and pancreas. This can in turn lead to heart disease, liver inflammation, and even pancreatic cancer. Another way that visceral fat affects health is through metabolic activity. Visceral fat actually produces and reacts to hormones. This can increase the risk factors for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. In some cases, visceral fat has also been linked to sleep apnea.
How To Avoid Weight-Related Health
Obviously you want to avoid all of those health issues that visceral fat could bring on, but how do you even begin to do that? After all, you can see when you have a lot of subcutaneous fat, but how do you know if you have a problem with visceral fat? You may think that the amount of subcutaneous fat and visceral fat would be related. For example, you may assume that someone with excess subcutaneous fat would also have excess visceral fat. This is true in some cases, but not always. Some people with excess subcutaneous fat have very little visceral fat. On the flip side, some people who appear to be very slim and fit actually have a serious visceral fat problem. So how can you tell how much visceral fat you have? Diagnostic imaging such as CT scans can reveal excess visceral fat, while blood panels can reveal visceral fat indicators like high blood sugar.
If you find that you have excess visceral fat, there are several things you can do about it. As it turns out, the amount of visceral fat you have comes down to two main things: genetics and diet. People who have a family history of weight-related health conditions due to visceral fat are most likely to have the same issues themselves, especially if they follow an unhealthy diet. Eating foods with high fat content will increase your risk of developing visceral fat – even if you don’t gain any subcutaneous fat. If you have a genetic pre-disposition to visceral fat, you will want to follow a low-fat diet and moderate exercise routine to decrease the likelihood of gaining this type of fat.