Fat. We know how it makes us look and we know how it makes us feel, and we generally don’t like either of those.
But did you know that there is more to fat than meets the eye? There are different types of fat, and one of them is extremely harmful.
Different types of body fat
I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but fat is everywhere in your body, even behind your eyeballs. Believe it or not, fat plays an important role in our bodies. But we have to have the right amount, not too much or too little.
Body fat contains fat cells, nerves, immune cells and connective tissue. The main job of fat is to store and release energy as the body needs it.
There are three main types of fat cells:
- White fat. This is the main type of fat and is generally found in the belly, chest and legs. It stores energy and produces hormones like leptin and adiponectin.
- Brown fat. This is a healthy kind of fat, and people with more brown fat tend to be leaner and healthier than those with less. It burns energy and produces heat in cold weather.
Brown fat improves metabolism and reduces the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.
It is found in the neck, upper chest, shoulders and stomach.
- Beige fat. White fat sometimes transforms into beige fat. It burns energy to produce heat.
Fat also gets categorised by where it is found in the body. The location of the fat tells us how healthy or harmful the fat is. We can distinguish between subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat is the fat just under the skin, and acts differently depending on where it’s located. In the belly, subcutaneous fat makes more fatty acids, increasing insulin resistance and the risk of metabolic disease.
Visceral fat is stored deep in the belly and around your organs. This kind of fat poses a serious threat to your health. Let’s take a closer look.
What is visceral fat?
It’s difficult to tell whether you actually have visceral fat – even if you have a flat tummy, you could have it around your organs. The most obvious sign of this kind of fat is a growing belly, but that could also be subcutaneous fat.
The most reliable way to measure the presence of visceral fat in your body is through expensive scans. Another way to roughly determine how much visceral fat you are carrying is to measure the size of your waist.
A woman with a waistline of 88cm or more is likely to have too much visceral fat. If you are a man, you are at risk if your waistline is 101cm or more.
Visceral fat can get you in trouble with your health in the blink of an eye. Here’s what could go wrong:
- Even without a history of diabetes or prediabetes, visceral fat can bring about insulin resistance.
- It puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- You could develop elevated blood pressure levels in a short amount of time.
- It puts you at an increased risk of heart attack and heart disease.
- It puts you at risk of suffering a stroke.
- You could develop breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
- You are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- It can cause liver disease, osteoarthritis and asthma.
|8 things you didn’t know about body fat|
Fat is actually an organ, and it’s part of the endocrine system.
Scientists only recently discovered that brown fat existed in adults. It was previously known to be found in newborn babies and hibernating mammals.
It’s common knowledge that too much fat is unhealthy, but too little fat can also lead to health problems, such as insulin resistance.
Body fat secretes hormones that make cancer cells grow quicker. While the number of fat cells you have can increase, they can’t decrease. Dieting does not make fat cells disappear, it only makes them smaller.
We have 10 to 30 billion fat cells in our body. Obese people can have up to 100 billion fat cells.
Around the 16th century fat was a symbol of wealth. Times were hard and food was scarce. A few extra rolls and bulges showed that you were doing well in life.
Ever wondered where the fat actually goes when you lose weight? It leaves your body through your breath, urine and sweat, during a fairly complicated process.
Breasts consist almost entirely of fat, which is why they are often first to go when we lose weight.
How do you end up with visceral fat?
As previously mentioned, the type of fat you carry depends on its location in the body. Therefore, your body type is a factor in determining whether you have too much visceral fat.
While body type is to an extent genetic, your lifestyle also plays a role. As with gaining fat in general, a poor diet and lack of exercise is the culprit.
Consuming too many calories will lead to weight gain, but be especially careful of fatty food, processed foods and sugars.
Stress is also a major factor in the development of belly fat. The hormone cortisol is part of the body’s fight or flight response that occurs when we find ourselves in a stressful situation.
When faced with a perceived threat, cortisol levels rise to give you a surge of energy to help you deal with the situation. Once it passes, your hormone levels return to normal.
However, if you are constantly feeling stressed for a long period of time, it starts to affect your health, and raised cortisol levels triggered by chronic stress have been associated with weight gain and belly fat.
The other part of this is of course that many people tend to snack on unhealthy foods when they are stressed.
How to get rid of visceral fat
The best way to reduce the amount of visceral fat in your body is by following a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise.
And it’s worth it to keep up with your exercise routine, as long-term exercise can prevent visceral fat from coming back.
Medication have been shown not to be very effective for the reduction of visceral fat, and definitely not any kind of weight loss supplement. Liposuction also can’t remove visceral fat.
Plan your meals carefully if you need to get rid of this dangerous fat. Studies showed that more calcium and vitamin D in your body could be linked to less visceral fat.
This makes leafy greens like spinach a brilliant choice. Go for fresh foods, lean protein and whole grains.
A few healthy options include fish, blueberries, avo, eggs, quinoa, nuts, oatmeal and garlic. Fight those cravings with an occasional small piece of dark chocolate – it’s good for you if you don’t over-indulge.
When we decide to lose weight it’s usually because we want to fit into smaller clothes and we want to like what we see in the mirror.
This is fine, but it’s important to remember about the type of fat that is a silent killer, hidden away around your organs. A healthy body allows you to get the most out of life, for as long as possible.