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The most dangerous type of fat — and how you can lose it

The most dangerous type of fat

Have you heard the term “skinny fat?”

It’s often used to describe someone whose weight and body mass index (BMI) are normal for their height, yet they have too much body fat and not enough muscle mass for optimal health.

Appearing skinny does not equate to being healthy — not if you’re skinny fat. Also known as visceral fat, it can be detrimental to your health.

What is visceral fat?

There are two types of fat:

  • Visceral fat surrounds your internal organs in the abdominal cavities, such as intestines, liver, and pancreas.
  • Subcutaneous fat is under your skin, the fat that people can see.

While subcutaneous fat is noticeable, it’s not as easy to see how much visceral fat a person has. People with larger bodies could have very little visceral fat on the inside, while people who present as lean can have a lot of it.

The presence of fat around the midsection can indicate visceral fat. However, weight/fat alone cannot determine if you’re skinny fat. A bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), hydrostatic weighing, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), or an MRI can confirm visceral fat.

Why is visceral fat dangerous?

Visceral fat is a highly active tissue that releases hormones and inflammatory chemicals into the body. The excess release of substances can cause metabolic problems with substantial health risks, including insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes; increased risk of cardiovascular disease, breast, prostate, and colon cancers; and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

How much body fat a person has and where they store it varies throughout different stages of life. Anyone can accumulate visceral fat, but those at risk tend to be:

  • lean or skinny people who consume excessive amounts of processed foods
  • overweight or obese individuals of any age
  • postmenopausal women
  • middle-aged men and older people

5 ways to help prevent or lose visceral fat

There are severe health consequences associated with visceral fat. But the good news is diet and lifestyle strategies can lead to a loss in visceral fat, or reduce its likelihood of forming in the first place.

1) Aerobic exercise 

If you want to reduce visceral fat, you might think abdominal workouts, crunches, and sit-ups are the way to go. However, abdominal exercises are not the most effective way to lose visceral fat. 

Research suggests aerobic exercise can help reduce visceral fat. But engaging in any activity that increases your heart rate — such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or dancing — is helpful. This is because you cannot spot-reduce fat.

2) Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables 

A large body of research indicates a plant-based diet rich in nutrients can help reduce visceral fat. Researchers in Japan found that eating many nutrient-rich vegetables contributed to visceral fat reduction in healthy adults.

Researchers say yellow and deep orange vegetables are among the most nutrient-rich vegetables. According to a study, teenagers who consumed nutrient-rich vegetables had 17% less visceral fat than those who did not.

As a result, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables provides a range of phytonutrients that may help reduce or entirely prevent visceral fat.

Aim for at least three servings of vegetables per day and at least one serving of fruit per day.

How much is one serving?

  • 1 serving of veggies = 1 cup of leafy greens or 1/2 cup of any other cut/chopped vegetables 
  • 1 serving of fruits = 1 medium whole fruit, 1 cup of berries, 1/2 cup of cut/chopped fruit or 1/4 cup of dried fruit 

3) Adequate and quality sleep 

The importance of sleep for a healthy body and mind is well-established. Sleep is crucial for:

  • a healthy immune function
  • the healing process
  • detoxification
  • memory and cognition
  • cardiovascular health
  • balanced blood sugar levels
  • weight management

According to various studies, sleep also plays a significant role in the development of visceral fat.

According to a 2010 study of African Americans and Hispanic Americans, adults under age 40 who had five hours of sleep or less per night had more significant visceral fat and subcutaneous fat accumulation. And while under-sleeping has effects on visceral fat, so does over-sleeping. 

In another study, of French Canadians, those who slept for less than six hours per night and longer than nine hours per night had a more considerable accumulation of visceral fat than those who slept seven to eight hours. 

The quality of our sleep is just as important as the quantity of sleep. A study of men and women in Birmingham, AL, found poor sleep quality was associated with increased visceral fat levels.

In short, you need to sleep enough and sleep well to have optimal health and function.

4) Reduce/eliminate sugar consumption 

Evidence suggests excessive sugar consumption can result in:

  • Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cancer

Additionally, sugar consumption — especially sugary beverages — has been linked to abnormal abdominal adipose tissue and increased visceral fat accumulation, according to one study. This means excessive sugar consumption doesn’t only lead to overall weight gain, but also specifically abdominal visceral fat.

If you want to lose a significant amount of fat for your overall wellness or a specific health condition, Semaglutide by Elite Health can help.

It’s possible to lose a great deal of weight and fat with Semaglutide. The FDA-approved weight-loss drug increases insulin secretion by acting as the human glucagon-like peptide-1, which increases sugar metabolism.

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5) Reduce obesogen exposure 

Obesogens are a class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that stimulate fat cell production and storage. In short, they make you fat, and they’re found in household items like water bottles, food storage containers, and cleaning supplies.

Evidence suggests that people with higher blood levels of bisphenol-A, a compound in plastic, have higher visceral fat levels.

Learn more about obesogens and how to reduce exposure here.

Need a boost? Help is closer than you think!

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Our personal and customized approach gets you performing at your peak and feeling like yourself again so you can live your best life!

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