What is Visceral Fat?
As we know, there are many different types of fat. The type of fat determines how it will affect your body. One type of fat that is present in the body is visceral fat. It can be hard to detect how much of this pesky fat is in the body. You can have visceral fat and have a somewhat flat stomach. When this happens, it’s called TOFI: thin outside fat inside. The only way to find out how much of this fat is in your body is through an expensive test, one which a doctor will not order for this purpose alone. As many people don’t know that this type of fat even exists, even fewer understand just how dangerous it can be.
Dangers of Visceral Fat
Any type of fat in large amounts is not healthy, but visceral fat is linked to a number of health conditions. Some of these include Alzheimer’s, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and many more. This is because research has shown that visceral fat is responsible for creating a protein that can cause inflammation in tissues, organs, and blood vessels.
How Visceral Fat is Measured
While the only way to know for sure how much visceral fat is in the body is through expensive tests, there are some measurements that experts say can be an effective indication.
One of the easiest ways to get an estimate of visceral fat. Measure your waist just over your belly button. If you are a woman, 35 inches or more could mean you have visceral fat — and for men the gauge is 40 inches. For Asian Americans, this number changes to 31.5 inches for women, and 35.5 for men.
Body Mass Index
BMI is a tool to compare your weight to height. Standard measurements say that a BMI of 30 or more is overweight. And with Asian Americans, a BMI of 23 is the gauge. Anything over these two numbers could be a sign of visceral fat.
Hip to Waist Ratio
If you divide your waist size by your hip size, experts think this can also show you your potential amount of visceral fat. But this is not completely settled as accurate.
The shape of your body can also tell you if you may be dealing with visceral fat. If you store more fat in your midsection, then you may be carrying more visceral fat than someone who holds their weight in their lower region. So an apple shape could potentially carry more visceral fat, which is a shape most common in men. Most women have a shape more comparable to a pear, which is less visceral fat and more weight in the leg and hips area. This could be why statistics show that women typically outlive men.
As previously stated, imaging tests are the only way to get a fully accurate depiction of visceral fat in your body. Also if for some reason doctors need to order a CT scan or MRI, they can also look at these tests to get a sense of your visceral fat.
How to Get Rid of Visceral Fat
There is no specific diet or exercise regimen to approach visceral fat specifically. The best approach is an overall lifestyle change that will improve your wellness and physical state from top to bottom.
Move Your Body
One of the most important things to do is to exercise. Moving your body consistently will help you shed visceral fat, as well as the fat you can see just below the skin — which is called subcutaneous fat. You can keep yourself in motion through small, intentional changes first such— as taking the stairs, walking after dinner, going for a bike ride, or doing some yoga and stretching.
Changing your diet is the other key to attacking visceral fat. Lack of nutrients in your food can lead to a number of issues, one of them being an accumulation of visceral fat. Studies have shown that proper levels of calcium and vitamin D are linked to less visceral fat. This means upping your intake of greens like collards and spinach. Tofu, yogurt, milk, and sardines are also great picks.
And while you are focusing on foods that decrease visceral fat, start to eliminate foods that increase it. Trans fat is one of the biggest contributors to visceral fat, and is found in things like meat, dairy, fried foods, and processed foods. This means also reducing your intake of sodas, baked processed foods, candy, and high fructose foods. Start to read labels and find out what is really in your food. If you see ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, or partially hydrogenated oil, leave it alone.
It is a journey to better health, but one that you can begin to travel if you take small, but deliberate actions every day to improve your habits.