There’s more than one type of fat in our bodies (one of them you can’t even see!)—and what you don’t know about could have serious consequences on your health.
When it comes to belly fat, most people aren’t aware that there are actually two different types: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous is the fat that you can see as it lies beneath the skin. In some places such as your thighs, underarms, belly, it may be thicker than in others, but for the most part it’s everywhere in the body (even on the soles of your feet!).
On one hand, a moderate amount of subcutaneous fat is essential for life; just for the record, it’s the fat that keeps you warm in winter. But, on the other hand, too much of it is bad; it’s actually the visible sign of being overweight or obese. Plus, it undermines self-confidence, which, according to research, leads to even more dangerous health behaviors. The good thing about subcutaneous fat is that it responds well to diets.
Visceral fat is much more dangerous and difficult to lose. Visceral fat, which is named after viscera, i.e. the internal organs in the abdomen, resides deep within the torso, wrapped around your heart, liver, and other major organs. Surprisingly, it’s possible to be relatively thin and still have excessive visceral fat. This is the reason why it’s sometimes referred to as “hidden” or even “deadly” belly fat as it can literally subtract years from your life.
At this point, you may wonder how this happens. Carrying excess visceral fat is one of a complex group of symptoms collectively called Metabolic Syndrome, or Syndrome X. The other symptoms are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and elevated insulin levels. Having just one of these conditions contributes to your risk of serious disease, but your risk grows exponentially as the number of symptoms grows.
Visceral fat has been related to a long list of adverse health conditions, including:
– High blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease
– High cholesterol
– Breast cancer
One of the main reasons visceral fat is so deadly is because of its role in inflammation, a natural immune response that has recently been linked to almost every chronic disease. Visceral fat releases more inflammatory molecules into your system on a consistent basis, which helps fuel the systemic process that worsens early symptoms of disease.
A study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association reveals that visceral fat may have a greater impact on the cardiovascular health of older women than does overall obesity. According to Danish researchers, women with excessive belly fat are at a greater risk of atherosclerosis than those with fat deposits mostly in their hips, thighs, and buttocks. Here’s why:
- The closeness of visceral fat to your liver increases production of LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol, which amasses in your arteries and forms plaque.
- Over time, this plaque becomes inflamed, resulting in swelling that narrows the arteries, restricting the passage of blood.
- The narrowing passageways increase blood pressure, straining your heart and potentially damaging tiny capillaries.
- The inflammation further increases your risk of blood clots, which can break loose and cause stroke.
But it doesn’t stop here. Visceral fat contributes to insulin resistance as well, which is an early sign of diabetes. Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells do not react to insulin forcing the pancreas to increase production in order to clear the bloodstream of glucose. Studies show that abundant fructose intake mainly from high-fructose corn syrup can be the key contributor to excess visceral fat. Over time, insulin resistance can lead to full-blown diabetes, which can severely comprise the entire circulatory system and cause long-term issues with vision, memory, and wound healing.
So what burns excessive abdominal fat, including visceral fat?
The first thing is to be realistic as there is NO quick solution to the problem, which means there are no pills or supplements of any sort that will help you lose your abdominal fat faster. The best solution to lose your abdominal fat consistently and prevent its recurrence is to combine a sound nutritious diet full of unprocessed natural foods with a properly planned strategic exercise regime that stimulates the required hormonal and metabolic response within your body. If you want to do things the right way, both your food intake and your training program should be taken into consideration.
According to research, two of the most important aspects to getting rid of visceral fat are:
- The use of high intensity forms of exercise and full-body resistance training. Low intensity cardio exercise simply isn’t as effective for removing visceral fat in particular. On the other hand, high intensity exercise such as interval training, sprints (bike sprints or running sprints), as well as full-body weight training are extremely beneficial for improving your body’s ability to manage glucose and increase insulin sensitivity, a crucial step in removing visceral fat.
These types of high intensity exercise routines are also very effective at stimulating your fat-burning hormones and creating a hormonal environment beneficial for burning off abdominal fat, including visceral fat.
- In addition, it’s essential to get a complete control over blood sugar levels in order to help restore insulin sensitivity through the right nutrition. This asks for cutting down on sugars and refined starches in your diet significantly (including cutting off any use of harmful high fructose corn syrup!), and focusing more of your diet on healthy fats (such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut fat, olive oil, grass-fed butter, free-range eggs, fatty fish and fish oils, etc.), as well as increasing protein and fiber intake. Reducing grain-based foods in your diet and getting more of your carbs from veggies and high fiber fruits such as berries can solve this problem in the long run.