Subcutaneous vs Visceral Fat

Subcutaneous vs Visceral Fat

What is fat?

As an ex-personal trainer, several of my clients did not know the differences between subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. I hope to clear up the confusion in today’s article. So what is fat? Simply put, fat is stored energy that the body did not burn off. When we take in more energy then we expend, the rest is stored as fat. When most people think of fat, they think of what we carry around our waists, thighs, butt, and in some cases all over. Excess weight increases our likelihood of getting heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, and blood clots. This is not to be confused with dietary fat. The misconception about dietary fat, or fat that we ingest, is that it contributes to these different adverse health conditions but that is incorrect. Dietary fat is a very important macronutrient and is especially important for men. The reason fat is important is because it allows for higher growth hormone production in the body which allows our muscles to grow bigger and stronger, increasing our immune system defenses, and even attributing to fat loss.


What is the differences?

When most of us think of being overweight or obese, we typically think of subcutaneous fat. The simple explanation of subcutaneous fat, is a layer of fat over the muscle. When we ingest too many carbohydrates and over eat, we take in more energy then our bodies burn off. So the remainder of that energy is stored as fat. During survival situations, fat is typically used versus carbohydrates since we have them on our bodies as reserve and we want to prevent as much muscle breakdown as possible. Our bodies are very intuitive and knows that it should only burn muscle in extreme situations.

Visceral fat on the other hand is harder to get and is also very dangerous to our health. For example, when you go to the grocery store and look in the meat section, you will see two types of steaks. You will see a steak with a layer of fat only around the outside edge and then you will see a steak with high marbling.

The very left picture of a steak is an example of visceral fat and the very right photo is an example of subcutaneous fat. As you can see, visceral fat is when fat is incorporated into the muscle. This condition causes inflammation which can cause fat to surround your vital organs and make them work harder. Because your organs are now working harder, your liver will have a harder time flushing out toxins in your blood and your heart will have to work twice as hard to pump blood throughout the body. It is also more difficult to lose visceral fat then it is to lose subcutaneous fat.

What can I do?

Proper nutrition and exercise are important to reducing the amount of fat we carry around our bodies. People who have more visceral fat will need to work harder in order to see fat loss but it is not impossible.

If you have a hard time with exercise, start off slow and gradually build up. You can start by walking 20 minutes 3 times a week. Every week that passes, add one more day until you hit 5 times a week then add another 10 minutes. For resistance training, you can start off with bodyweight movements and increase repetitions and sets as you go. For example, the first week you can use resistance bands and perform 10 push-ups, 10 sit ups, 10 squats, and 10 pull ups 5 times a week. Then every 2 weeks, increase repetitions of each exercise by 10 until you get to 100. The most important thing is to stay active. It should be your goal to at least do one type of physical activity everyday. The most important factor is that we are increasing our energy expenditure versus our calorie intake.

Nutrition is another important component of fat loss. Most of your results will come from what you put in your mouth. You should not be on a ‘diet’ because when most people think of that word, they think of something temporary and short term. You should not be going on a diet but rather should be making a lifestyle change. Every individual is different and each individual reacts differently to certain foods. Personally I am a big believer of the Ketogenic diet because I feel that it is not actually a diet. It allows me to eat the foods I love and it is a nutritional plan that I can do for the rest of my life. But it is not for everyone. If you are someone who feels that they need carbohydrates to function, then it may not be for you.

What if I don’t know what to do?

If you don’t know what to do and you do not know what is needed for you to make a lifestyle change I recommend either hiring a personal trainer, nutritionist, or talk to your doctor. The problem with hiring a nutritionist or a personal trainer is that they typically charge astronomical prices for their services. I know, I was a personal trainer! But if you want a structured program to follow where everything is laid out for you step by step, I would recommend BodyByBoyle. BodyByBoyle isn’t just a workout and nutrition program but a resource of information where all the great minds in the fitness industry get together and share their discoveries. Everyone from beginners to NFL combine athletes use this program and BodyByBoyle has been featured on Men’s Health. With over 250 hours of video tutorials, seminars, and discussions, not only will you be able to change your body for good, but you will be able to be educated on the same level as the best in the fitness industry! Click below to join!

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