What is visceral fat?


Rolls in the deep

Maybe your clothes are more snug than you’d like or the number on the scale isn’t ideal. You might feel that there is a tighter, more toned version of yourself deep inside. Know what else is deep inside? Fat! Sure, you have bones and muscle in there too, but you also have fat. We all do. Some of us have more than others; most of us have more than we need.

Fat could be your issue, but it’s not just the love handles that spill over the sides of your pants. It’s not only the “inch you can pinch” on your belly or the bingo wings that continue to wave after you’ve stopped moving your arms. This fat you can see and feel is called subcutaneous fat. It lies just under your skin and when people get 360 degree liposuction, this is the fat that gets sucked out.

There is another kind of fat that you can’t see or feel and it’s called visceral fat. Visceral fat is deep inside your body and it surrounds your internal organs. While it is essential to have some visceral fat in your body, it is possible and dangerous to have too much. We will talk more about what visceral fat is and how it can help but also hinder you. We will also suggest ways to lower the level of visceral fat you have.

What is visceral fat?

Visceral fat stays deep in your body, wrapped around major organs like your stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines and kidneys. It plays an important role in providing the necessary amount of space around your organs, protecting them from damaging each other as you move. The Cleveland Clinic calls visceral fat “active fat” in this article because it plays such a vital role in organ health. But your body only needs a certain amount of visceral fat to be healthy.

When is visceral fat dangerous?

Too little or too much visceral fat can damage your body, for different reasons.

People with a low amount of visceral fat - think of Olympic-level athletes who’ve trained so hard that they’ve lost their menstrual cycles - are in danger of having a dysfunctional immune system. Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K can’t be activated without fat. Visceral fat processes these vitamins so our bodies can use them.

On the other end of the scale - literally and figuratively - are people with too much visceral fat. Excessive amounts of visceral fat interfere with the body’s natural method of regulating fat production, resulting in even more fat. It also alters insulin sensitivity, which can eventually lead to diabetes

Where do you find your visceral fat measurement?

There are a few ways to measure your visceral fat. Stridestrong.com wrote an informative article on visceral fat and how to measure it here. The most accurate - but also most expensive - way to quantify your mass involves your doctor and an imaging machine such as a CT scan or MRI.

At home, you can simply measure your waist and do a little math. You will take two measurements, one at the most narrow part of your waist and the other at the widest part of your hips. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. If your number is above .9 and you’re male or .85 if you’re female, you may have too much visceral fat inside your body.

Another option, a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) machine, may be found at your local gym or fitness facility. This method is less accurate than your doctor’s tools of choice but is also less expensive. And it also involves significantly less math on your end.

How to get rid of visceral fat

You would think we’d promote 360 degree liposuction as a solution to visceral fat. This is a plastic surgeon’s website, after all. That advice would just suck. Liposuction only removes subcutaneous fat; it is impossible to lipo visceral fat. Visceral fat is too close to internal organs to even attempt reaching it with a liposuction cannula. Every credible plastic surgeon will tell you: you are the only one who can remove this fat. Your health is in your hands.

Healthdirect Australia suggests a handful of methods to manage excess visceral fat, including:

  • Exercising
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Not smoking
  • Reducing or eliminating sugary beverages
  • Getting enough sleep

The last stitch

You control your health. Step away from this electronic device and do five pushups. Go make a salad and come back to read this last part. We’ll wait. (Make sure you have some good, lean protein in there and skip the salad dressing.) Throw away your cigarettes and grab a nice cold glass of water. The five bulleted items above can help you reduce the amount of visceral fat in your body if you do them on a regular basis. Consistency and moderation are key. Take control of your body and your health! And after you’ve exercised, eaten and drank that water, treat yourself to a little nap.


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