Written by Nevil Hunter.
By now we’re all well aware that watching one’s weight is critical to the maintenance of optimal health. However, far too many people remain unaware that not all body fat is created equally. When it comes to your likelihood to eventually develop certain health problems, it’s not all about how much excess body fat you have. It’s also about where it’s located.
According to the research team at Harvard University, abdominal fat is the type of fat you want to keep the closest watch on. However, it’s also important to understand that abdominal fat comes in two distinct forms. The first kind is similar to the subcutaneous fat we’re already familiar with and is deposited just below the skin. This subcutaneous fat behaves metabolically and biologically just as the rest of your body fat behaves.
The second type is known as visceral fat and is much more worrisome. Instead of being deposited just underneath the skin, visceral fat is deposited around your internal organs. This kind of fat behaves much differently and is considered to be much more detrimental to your health according to noted authorities such as the Australian Government. Most of us would have seen their LiveLighter campaign talking about toxic fat. Or the TV ad with the overweight guy grabbing the soft drink out of the fridge and then grabbing the extra fat around his stomach.
Why Is Visceral Fat Such an Issue?
When health experts and scientists first began to explore the implications of visceral fat, it was thought that it was as troublesome as it was because of its alleged link to problems such as elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, and increased levels of dangerous stress hormones. The reason for this is the way visceral fat actually dumps the products of its metabolic processes (including the toxins) directly into a person’s bloodstream.
Since this means free fatty acids generated inside visceral fatty tissue wind up nestled around vital organs like the liver, it can spell bad news for your overall health. A variety of potentially disastrous syndromes can develop as a result, including problems regulating the body’s blood sugar and insulin levels, high levels of cholesterol, immune system issues, and various heart problems.
An overabundance of visceral fat can also cause issues with the body’s metabolism, which can easily lead to obesity and other issues related to weight. It’s already quite well understood that adipose tissue (fatty tissue) has a tendency to hoard energy. However, it’s important to note that they can produce proteins and other compounds directly related to abnormalities and insufficiencies of the metabolism across the board.
Who Is Most Affected by Visceral Fat
Anyone with a BMI above healthy recommended standards is at risk for developing elevated levels of visceral fat. However, since visceral fat hides out inside of your body between your internal organs, it’s possible for an individual to be slim and to seem relatively healthy, but to be harbouring the lion’s share of this secret hazard.
Middle-aged people – especially middle aged women – whose bodies have begun to deposit more fat around the mid-section are going to be at higher risk for the development of visceral fat than other people. Also, anyone with an apple-shaped body (as opposed to a pear-shaped or triangular figure) is going to be more likely to have developed higher levels of visceral fat. One’s likelihood of developing dangerous levels of visceral fat is also affected by genetics.
What to Do About Visceral Fat
As with other forms of obesity, the key to keeping the development of visceral fat to a minimum is diet and exercise. Start by examining your diet and eliminating fatty, greasy, or processed foods. Replace them with plenty of lean proteins like those found in white meat chicken or fish, as well as foods rich in micronutrients and fibre like whole grains and fresh produce.
It’s also incredibly important to incorporate regular physical exercise of a moderate intensity level into your routine. Shoot for a minimum of 30 minutes per day (although up to 60 minutes would be ideal). Exercises like sit-ups may help to tone the area and tighten one’s abdominal muscles, but they won’t actually eliminate visceral fat on their own.
Diet and exercise remains the only visceral fat control method that has been proven effective so far.
If you’d like some advice on getting an exercise training program underway or help selecting the right fitness equipment for your goals, come and speak to the friendly team at Orbit Fitness, give us a call on 1300 13 42 13 or email us today!