Visceral fat is the fat surrounding our organs. It is not easily visible, however your visceral fat number is a high indicator of your current health. More importantly, it gives us a great snap shot of a persons health as they age. A high number over time will cause major damage to our metabolic systems and health.

Because visceral fat is hidden internally it can be difficult to know how much you have and if you need to concern yourself with this type of fat. We think this number is so important we provide our members with a free InBody Analysis once a year. You cannot make informed goals and decisions about your health without information about your basic health markers. While we are not doctors, we can help you understand the importance of daily exercise, eating healthy, the value of sleep hygiene, hydration, and whether it’s time to pay your health care provider a visit.

Visceral fat is a silent killer. The picture above compares a 150 lb woman to a 200 lb woman. If you look at the woman on the left she has visceral fat around her heart and brain. The joints around the knees are compressed and the stomach and internal organs are also compressed. (Shirley Mast)

Unlike subcutaneous fat, this is the visible fat, visceral fat can remain undetected and hidden for years. This type of fat over time can cause major health issues. It is a silent killer and can increase inflammatory biochemical markers like insulin resistance causing Type II Diabetes, inflammation, fatty liver disease, hormonal imbalances and can damage the body’s ability to metabolize eventually leading to cardiovascular disease and/or a stroke.

Major causes of visceral fat increase:

  1. STRESS—if you don’t manage your stress, you can put on visceral fat without knowing it is happening. Over a period of 5-10 years the damage starts to accumulate leading to a deterioration in your overall health.
  2. SLEEP—this is an important part of your health. Sleep is so essential to your health that getting 8 hours a night is directly related to your nutritional intake. People who are sleep deprived (6 or less hours a night) will eat 300 more calories per day.
  3. ALCOHOL—we are a drinking society and to break the bottle habit is tough for many Americans. Alcohol is a major contributor to visceral fat accumulation. Fatty liver has been associated with just 2 drinks a night.
  4. SMOKING—I have only known one CrossFitter who struggled to give up smoking and he craved it so much he would smoke 3 cigarettes before the 6 am class. It was a tough battle he was fighting. Vaping and marijuana use have added to the problem and unfortunately, we are just starting to learn about the major health issues both are causing in teens and adults.
  5. LACK OF EXERCISE–just 30 minutes a day can help you start the process of losing visceral fat.
  6. DAILY NUTRITION–eating to nourish your body and not starving yourself with a fad diet takes practice. Check out our blog on Nutritious Eating.

It doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom when it comes to staying healthy. First things first, know your visceral fat number. A quick way to check if you need to get more tests is to check your waist circumference. If you are a male look to be under 40 inches in your waist and for females 35 inches. This is a quick way to check if you are concerned with your body’s total percentage of visceral fat.

When a new member joins our gym, we do an Assessment and take an InBody Analysis. This quick and simple test gives us a snapshot of a person’s health and potential long-term health problems. If the number is higher than 10, we know we are going to want to focus on reducing this number over the next 12 months with consistent training.

If you don’t like to exercise this is going to sound like the worst news you could possibly get: exercising at least 30-45 minutes every day is necessary to get your visceral fat down. A reduction in visceral fat will be directly related to losing subcutaneous fat. In other words, as you lose weight and yes, look better naked, you will also be reducing your visceral fat!!

Join us next week when we discuss how to make minor changes to eating habits that have a major impact on your overall health! We are here to help!