What is Visceral Fat?
Visceral fat (or abdominal fat) is body fat which is stored within the abdominal cavity. It wraps around your vital organs including the liver, pancreas and intestines, and as a result can have a negative impact on your health. In fact, visceral fat has been linked to increased risk of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
It is important to distinguish the difference between subcutaneous fat and visceral fat…
Subcutaneous fat is the fat we store under our skin. It is the tissue that we can feel when we pinch ourselves, and contains blood vessels in addition to fatty tissues. Visceral fat, on the other hand, cannot be felt in such a way as it is the extra fat stored around our organs. It is the most dangerous type of fat as it much harder to identify.
No matter what your shape or size, you may be carrying excess visceral fat!
Regardless of shape or size an individual can be carrying excess visceral fat. This means that whether your doctor tells you that you’re underweight, overweight, obese or of a healthy weight, you may be carrying excess visceral fat within your abdominal cavity.
That is why BMI is an inaccurate measurement of health…
Body Mass Index (BMI) is used by many as an indicator of health. It involves comparing your weight in relation to your height to give an indication of your weight status i.e. whether you are categorised as underweight, overweight, healthy or obese. It doesn’t take into account muscle mass, age, sex, ethnicity, general level of fitness or visceral fat. Therefore, even if you have a ‘healthy’ BMI you may still be carrying excessive visceral fat, and could still be at risk of the health complications associated with it.
As a result, relying on BMI could put you at risk of countless diseases…
Visceral fat is often referred to as ‘active fat’ due to the effect it has on our hormones and body functions. It can interrupt normal hormone communications between your vital organs, and can lead to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it can affect the functions of your organs and puts you at higher risk of developing heart disease or cancers including breast cancer or colorectal cancer.
So, what can you do to protect yourself?
Factors which contribute to visceral fat levels include stress, diet and exercise habits in addition to age, ethnicity and gender. Living a healthy lifestyle will therefore reduce your chances of visceral fat accumulating in your abdominal cavity.
If you are worried about your visceral fat levels the waist-to-hip ratio (found by dividing waist width by hip width) can give an indication of total fat as well as the level of visceral fat, however the most accurate measurement of visceral fat is to measure adiponectin levels in the blood.
Adiponectin (a blood analyte) is closely linked with visceral fat; low levels of adiponectin indicate high levels of visceral fat. The Adiponectin test enables true measurement of visceral fat levels and allows for more accurate measurement of health than traditional BMI; if you have been diagnosed with unhealthy BMI and believe this to be an inaccurate diagnosis, testing your adiponectin levels can help determine your true measurement of health. Simply ask your doctor for the Adiponectin test!