What is Visceral Fat? 

VISCERAL FAT is belly fat found deep within your abdominal cavity. It surrounds important organs, including your stomach, liver and intestines. This dangerous component of our body releases harmful proteins. Studies show an elevated amount of these proteins can increase the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and even certain types of cancer. Belly fat may seem harmless, but truly puts you at risk of major health issues. This type of fat is different from the subcutaneous fat that lies just beneath the skin and gives us our shape.  

HIGH VISCERAL FAT HEALTH RISKS: Visceral-fat-definition

  • Heart disease 
  • Alzheimer’s 
  • Type 2 Diabetes 
  • Stroke 
  • High Cholesterol 


Visceral Fat’s Impacts on Your Health 

Visceral fat surrounds vital organs like the heart and liver, putting immense pressure on them and hindering their proper function. It also releases harmful substances called cytokines and adipokines into the bloodstream. These substances can promote inflammation and insulin resistance, two factors that play a significant role in the development of various diseases. Research shows inflammation, in particular, is a key player in the progression of conditions like cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. When someone suffers from excess visceral fat, their body is at a higher risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.  


Measuring Visceral Fat 

The first step to addressing visceral fat is to know how to measure it. There are several ways to gauge your exposure to this hidden danger. A couple of simple measurements are all you need for a general understanding of your risk level, however, this is not fool proof. A more in-depth look at your body composition is the most accurate option.  

Waist measurement: Wrap a tape measure around your waist just above your hip bones. For women, 35 inches or more means you’re at risk for health problems stemming from visceral fat. For men, the number is 40 inches or more. (Source: my.clevelandclinic.org

Waist-height ratio (a more accurate indicator): Divide your waist size by your height. A healthy ratio is no greater than 0.5 (in men and women). (Source: my.clevelandclinic.org)   

There are innovative tools available to measure visceral fat. Every Options Medical Weight Loss clinic is equipped with an InBody scale. These special scales give you a more complete picture of what’s going on inside your body. The scale breaks down your weight into water, skeletal muscle mass and body fat. The InBody scale takes your weight analysis a step further by giving a Visceral Fat Level. This value indicates an estimated amount of fat surrounding internal organs in the abdomen. 


Addressing Visceral Fat 

Understanding the dangers of visceral fat is crucial, as poor health can build upon its harmful ingredients. With the right tools and strategies, we can take steps towards minimizing its impact on our overall well-being.  


What Causes Visceral Fat? 

It’s probably no surprise that two factors are the main determinants of how you accumulate visceral fat: genetic and environmental. We can’t change our genetics which determine your body shape and impact how your body stores visceral fat. (Source: my.clevelandclinic.org

If you look around your family gathering and see round stomachs, don’t lose heart, you still have control over environmental factors! Diet and exercise play a key role in how your body stores visceral fat. A poor diet combined with an inactive lifestyle provide the building blocks for an increase in visceral fat. (Source: my.clevelandclinic.org

Stress and poor sleep can play a role in accumulating visceral fat as well. Stress activates a hormone in your body called cortisol. More cortisol activates your body’s “fight-or-flight” response, which triggers the storage of more visceral fat. (Source: my.clevelandclinic.org) 


Strategies for Losing Visceral Fat 

If you’re suffering from excess visceral fat, there are strategies you can use to reduce it.  

Studies show trimming visceral fat or preventing its growth is possible with both aerobic activity and strength training. (Source: www.health.harvard.edu) By engaging in physical activity for just a few minutes each day, you can start burning away those dangerous components. Exercise doesn’t have to include a treadmill or high intensity workout. For ideas how to increase your activity outside the gym, read 8 Heart-healthy activities that don’t feel like exercise 

Additionally, adopting a healthy diet that’s packed with nutritious ingredients such as fresh vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates is crucial. Avoiding choices like sugary drinks and processed snacks will go a long way in shedding that unwanted fat. Eating a healthy diet will help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Remember, taking care of your body is essential in combatting many health ailments, including visceral fat. 

It’s important to understand that poor diet and sedentary lifestyle are major factors in building up visceral fat. By making healthier food choices and engaging in regular physical activity, you can combat these dangers and improve our overall well-being.  

For Women:  

Women on average have less visceral fat than men as young adults, but all that changes with menopause. Genetics and menopause are two unchangeable factors for women, however, there are several ways to minimize the accumulation of visceral fat. The good news is that visceral fat responds more efficiently to diet and exercise because it’s more readily metabolized into fatty acids. This means belly fat can “melt” away quicker than subcutaneous fat on hips and thighs. (Source: www.health.harvard.edu) 


Parting Thoughts 

This may seem like a lot to take in all at once. Take each day one at a time. Start with awareness of visceral fat and where your measurements are today. Then come up with a plan to engage in physical activity each day. Start cutting processed foods and sugary drinks. As you grow in your comfort level with exercise and healthier eating. Start a workout program and seek out a better understanding of your own nutrition and how to fuel your body to health.  

Do you need guidance, accountability, or a cheerleader to help you?  Options Medical Weight Loss has programs and a caring support team to assist you on your weight loss and weight management journey. Schedule a free consultation today.  We have Options for Every Body!