Thursday, June 28, 2012

Secrets to Being Fit and Fabulous: Banish Visceral Fat

PHS Editor Michelle Styles investigates fat and explains why some fat is worse than others and why people who seem slender may not be.

As you may know not all fat we carry in our bodies is created equal. There is the wobbly bits or subcutaneous fat -- unslightly but not particularly dangerous and then there is the visceral fat. Visceral fat is the stuff that accumulates around your liver, pancreas, kidneys. It is why some people who are thin but pursue an unhealthy lifestyle (no exercise, poor eating habits -- particularly with transfats and HFCS -- ie highly proccessed food forming a large part of the diet) may suffer from more long term healthy problems than people who have an abundance of subcutaneous fat but exercise regularly etc. They might seem slim but really fat is oozing into their liver and other organs, creating the potential for type 2 diabetes and other debilitating illness. It is why you can be Thin Outside Fat Inside (TOFI) or skinny fat.  Visecral fat has been implicated in heart disease, diabetes etc. A recent study published in the Hypertension Journal established a link between cornary heart disease and visceral fat. If you carry excess abdominal fat in your 40s you are 2.5 times more likely to have some form of dementia in your 70s.

If you can answer to ANY of these questions you may have excessive visceral fat:
Are you inactive?
Do you have a waist line bigger than 35 inches (for women) (measure at the narrowest point?
Divide your waist by your hip measurement. Is it over 0.9?
Is the distance between your navel and mid point of your lower back over 25 cm?
People who are apple shaped rather than pear shape or hourglass shape tend to have more problems with visceral fat.
If you are worried you can have blood test to find out if you have a fatty liver.

So what to do about this dangerous fat --
You need a three pronged approach -- healthy diet combined with cardio and resistance exercise. When you lose weight, your body first uses the fat stores which are most harmful to your health -- the lipids in your blood stream, then the visceral fat and finally the wobbly subcutaneous fat. This explains why some people may not see as big a change at the beginning of a serious exercise regime. The visceral fat does need to be removed. Lean muscle takes up 22% less space than the equivalent weight of fat.
Hypocalorfic diets which concentrate on removing low level inflammation and providing high qualitiy nutrients can a great way to kick start the metabolism. Visceral fat inhibits metabolism and can make it more difficult to lose weight. 10 -16 weeks is reccommended for the clinically obese according to the Pennington Biomedical research Centre in the US. It should be a diet that concentrates on removing inflammation and getting your body high quality nutrients. remember it is a forever thing, but a kick in the pants for your metabolism.
BUT if you simply diet without exercise and stop dieting, a 2003 study by Duke University showed a 9% gain in visceral fat within 6 months. Women were more likely to regain the fat at a quicker rate than men.
People who exercise the equivalent of running 11 miles per week saw no gain in visceral fat. And people who exercised the equivalent of over 17 miles per week (say doing vigourous exercise 6x week for 30 min) saw a reduction in both types of fat. A 2009 study from University Hospital in Ulm Germany which tracked participents in a long distance race, and used MRI scans showed that visceral fat is the first thing to disappear when someone starts actively exercising. In addition, another study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that training at higher intensity burn off more visceral fat. The study was adjusted so that participents burnt the same number of calories.
Resistance training has also been shown to be effective in reducing visceral fat as you are creating lean muscle.
As far I understand, people who exercised and maintained a healthy diet in general saw huge reductions in visceral fat. Drinking green tea in combo with taking exercise has been shown to help with visceral fat.
I thought it hugely interesting and hope other people might find it interesting as well. If anyone can add things it would be great. But I read about visceral fat and thought I am glad I pursue both a healthy diet and exercise regularly!
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty, and intimate historical romance. Her next book His Unsuitable Viscountess is published in August 2012 and is available for preorder. To learn more about Michelle's books visti her website Michelle lost 66 lbs which included both types of fat and is determined to keep it off!


  1. Picked up a Tracy Anderson DVD from the library today :D

  2. She will work you Jenna. Which one did you pick up?