Well Being: Visceral Fat vs Subcutaneous Fat

doctor draws abdominal fatRaise your hand if you have heard of visceral fat. A couple of you. Great.

Raise your hand if you have heard of subcutaneous fat. Ah, many more of you. Fantastic.

For those of you who didn’t raise your hand I will give you a simple explanation. I know the words sound fancy enough, but the reality is not too fancy at all. Visceral fat is the fat that is found surrounding the organs in the abdomen and is under the muscle – this is often referred to as belly fat. Subcutaneous fat is under the skin – often referred to as muffin top. Voila, done!

How do you know the difference between the two. If when you feel your abdomen it feels soft and fleshy, that’s subcutaneous. If it feels firm but still protrudes, that’s visceral. The importance of this lesson is not what these two types of fats are, but rather the havoc they cause. Women tend to be soft and fleshy while men tend to be firm.

Visceral fat (aka belly fat) is associated with the following health risks:

  • Increased chance of developing type II Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome – a group of risk factors that increases your chance of developing multiple diseases
  • Liver failure
  • Heart attack
  • Compression of the internal organs compromising their function
  • Releases toxins into the bloodstream that causes inflammation all over your body

Subcutaneous fat (aka muffin top) is not as dangerous, but has the following associated risks: 

  • Posture problems – as the bulge gets bigger it pulls you forward resulting in back pain
  • Knee and joint problems from supporting the extra weight
  • Stores toxins in the body – food or substances that are of no use to the body get stored in the fat

**It is important to note that you can have no or very little subcutaneous fat but still gain visceral fat!**

How do you get rid of these types of fats. Subcutaneous fat can be lost through good old fashioned exercise and diet change. This is the fat that burns off first, provided everything else with you is fine (hormones, thyroid, etc.). Visceral fat can be a little harder to get rid of, but also responds to exercise and diet. Reduce the sugar intake because both fats will actually cause you to crave sugar. The sugar and toxins is what keeps that fat “alive”. It’s going to cause you to crave the bad stuff it needs. The key is first getting your mind right. Explore emotionally what got you to this place before starting an exercise program. You will be surprised the difference happiness and emotional well being can make in fat fighting.

Fat does have an important job in the body and I’ll get into that in another post. For now understand what’s driving your weight gain, cut out toxic foods and get your feet on the street. As always, seek out the advice of medical and nutritional professionals before embarking on a new program. If you’re pre-diabetic or diabetic and don’t know you it, you could cause more harm than good.


Real Talk | Real Things | Real Results

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