Visceral fat is excess intra-abdominal adipose tissue (deep fat) that we cannot see when looking at an image of ourselves. Unlike subcutaneous fat (which is the fat that can be detected when we pinch our skin, as it lies directly underneath), visceral fat is located around vital internal organs, such as the liver, heart, pancreas and kidneys.
Visceral fat is particularly dangerous due to the fact that it is not inert – the tissue produces chemicals which can impact hormone and immune functions, in addition to affecting surrounding vital organs as aforementioned. Consequently, too much of this type of fat is toxic to the body – numerous diseases such as heart and liver disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and colorectal cancers, Alzheimer’s Disease and strokes are associated to it.
Is visceral fat normal?
Everyone has visceral fat, however a healthy level should be somewhere between 10 and 13 percent. How to find out your visceral fat reading? One of the easiest ways to do this is to invest in a bioelectrical impedance weighing scale which will work out your percentage.
This type of scale works by sending a mild electrical current through the body, which calculates and identifies the difference between muscle, organ and fat tissue. In absence of this, measuring the circumference of the waist area can be done as stated below:
- Measure the circumference of the waist, then the hips at their largest point
- Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement
- The ratio should be 1.0 for men, and 0.85 for women. If the ratios are higher than this, then the amount of fat is in excess. This equates to a measurement of 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.
There are alternative methods of measuring visceral fat which involve using MRI or CT scans for precise readings, however these methods are expensive and require medical supervision.
How to lose visceral fat
In conclusion, the best way to lose visceral fat is through a combination of proper nutrition and exercise. In terms of dietary habits, consuming fruit, non-starchy vegetables, and foods high in fibre and wholegrains will help greatly. Looking at your waist area in the mirror will give a reliable indication of how well your visceral fat is being reduced!
With regards to lifestyle changes, performing endurance exercise between 30-60 minutes every day, such as running, biking, rowing and swimming, not smoking and drinking, lowering stress levels, and getting quality sleep will help shift surplus visceral fat which is one of our worst enemies to control in the battle for health and wellness.