#64 Visceral Fat
No one ever died from having a big bum and big thighs (although fat storage in your lower body may make you more susceptible to thrombosis).
It's the upper body fat that collects around your internal organs that's the scary stuff.
If you are an apple shape, like me, you are way more at risk than if you are the good old kiwi pear shape.
But unfortunately, hormones and age can start to change your body shape.
The picture from this blog depicts 1kg of visceral fat and in the video I'm holding a block of 1kg fat too. This is the fat that sits in your abdomen around your internal organs. It feels hard, the soft rolls on the outside are adipose tissue, fat deposits under your skin.
- When you eat more calories than you can burn in a day your body stores these excess calories as body fat. Where you store your fat depends on genetics, body type, gender, and age.
- Abdominal obesity or visceral fat is chemically different from your fat stores under your skin.
- All of my programs are designed to encourage your body to burn this fat as fuel. In my mind, if you have visceral fat we want it to be your body's preferred source of energy. It should be a food group at the bottom of your food pyramid.
- The fat under our skin actually produces the hormone leptin which suppresses appetite and promotes fat burning. In the '90s scientists learned that visceral fat does the opposite and acts as an endocrine organ producing its own hormones. Cytokines increase inflammation which in turn increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure. This internal fat also increases glucose production and decreases the muscle uptake of glucose meaning higher insulin production. Which moves you towards type 2 diabetes and EVEN MORE fat storage.
- The fatter you are the more visceral fat you will store as opposed to fat under your skin
Women store more fat than men. As our oestrogen levels drop, our heart disease risk becomes the same as a man's and these inflammatory hormones add to that risk. As our hormones change we store more internal fat, and less in our lower body. Even if you don't gain weight this can thicken you through your waist.
How do you know if you have it?
Take a waist measurement around your navel (not the skinniest part of your waist). The tape should be level with the top of your hip. If the measurement is over 89 cms you have excess visceral fat.
Even if you are otherwise healthy this drives your risk of cardiovascular disease up by 10%, Dementia risk up 3 times, asthma risk up by 37%, and colorectal cancer risk up 3 times.
The good news is that visceral fat is actually easier to lose than hip or thigh fat and tends to go first.
Following a sensible eating and exercise plan that puts you in a calorific deficit provides you with lots of fibre and anti-inflammatory foods is your best course of action
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