Visceral Fat and Subcutaneous Fat: What’s the Difference?
Do you know the difference between visceral fat and subcutaneous fat? Did you know that one is more harmful than the other?
Visceral fat is the type of body fat that is stored deep inside the body around major organs within the abdominal cavity. This type of fat appears as a distended, hard belly, and is difficult to pinch. A person can have visceral fat without having fat in other parts of the body (e.g. they may have skinny arms and legs.
Factors that contribute to the development of visceral body fat include genetic predisposition, ethnic background, gender, age and lifestyle and environmental factors. A high level of cortisol (the stress hormone) triggers the development of this type of fat.
Visceral fat is the more harmful type of fat because it forms close to major organs including the heart and liver. Therefore, it increases the risk of chronic diseases such as:
- Heart disease
- high blood pressure
- metabolic syndrome
- gallbladder disease
- Some cancers such as Breast cancer and Colorectal cancer
The good news is that visceral fat is fairly easy to lose. This is because visceral fat is metabolically active, so it can be “used up” as energy during exercise.
Subcutaneous fat is the more familiar type of fat that you can see and pinch. Your body needs some subcutaneous fat because it helps insulate the body, maintain hormone balance and provides cushioning for internal tissues.
However, having too much subcutaneous fat can also increase the risk of chronic diseases – particularly those associated with being overweight and obese.
Subcutaneous fat is harder to lose because it is not as metabolically active as visceral fat.
To prevent or decrease both visceral and subcutaneous body fat, it is essential to:
- follow a healthy diet
- keep your muscles toned and strong through exercise – both cardiovascular exercise and strength training