Not all fat is the same. In fact, deadly, hidden, internal stores of visceral fat can plague many people who look healthy and normal. Skinny-fat some call it. And it's more prevalent than you think.
“Subcutaneous fat” is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. “Visceral fat” stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it’s hidden deep within the belly region. What is visceral fat? It’s a form of gel-like fat that actually wraps around major organs, including the liver, pancreas and kidneys. A bulging tummy is often a sure sign of visceral fat, If you are a man with a waist of more than 40 inches (102 cms) or a woman with a waist larger than 35 inches (88 cms) chances are you have dangerous visceral fat. But even if you're under that number you could still be harboring dangerous hidden fat.
1) feeling sluggish
2) sleep apnea
3) low energy through the day
4) bad digestion
5) weight gain
6) pain in your right abdomen
If you suffer from a handful of these symptoms, you might want to look at making some changes or risk serious health complications in your near future. Visceral fat is especially dangerous because, as you’ll find out, these fat cells do more than just sit there and cause your pants to feel tight — they also change the way your body operates.
Visceral fat is also considered toxic and spells double-trouble in the body because it’s capable of provoking inflammatory pathways, plus signaling molecules that can interfere with the body’s normal hormonal functions. In fact, internal fat acts almost like its very own organ since it’s capable of having such a large impact on the body. Fat cells do more than simply store extra calories they have proved to be much more involved in human physiology than we had previously thought. We now know that fat tissue itself acts like its own organ by pumping out hormones and inflammatory substances. Storing excess fat around the organs increases production of pro-inflammatory chemicals, also called cytokines, which lead to inflammation; at the same time, it interferes with hormones that regulate appetite, weight, mood and brain function.
If you smoke you should stop immediately. Of course you already know smoking is bad for you. But it also can quadruple the amount of visceral fat that can hide around your internal organs.
The key really lies with when you eat, and most importantly what you eat, followed closely by the type of exercise (if any) you engage in.
Though the term might sound dated, "middle-age spread" affects a lot of people. As people go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase — more so in women than men. And due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle almost everyone is at risk.
So what can we do about dangerous fat? A lot, it turns out. The starting point for bringing weight under control, in general, and combating abdominal fat, in particular, is regular moderate-intensity physical activity. At least 30 minutes per day (and perhaps up to 60 minutes per day) to control weight. Strength training (exercising with weights) may also help fight abdominal fat as it can raise your metabolism. Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups and crunches can tighten abdominal muscles and strengthen your core, but it alone won't get at visceral fat. It takes consistent, weekly, long term exercise, especially if you sit in front of a computer all day.
Diet also plays an important role. Pay attention to portion size, and emphasize complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and lean protein over simple carbohydrates such as white bread, refined-grain pasta, prepackaged products and sugary drinks. Replacing trans fats with healthy saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can also help.
Many people have great success making their own lunch and dinner and staying away from fast food, junk food and drinking plenty of water. Remember it takes time and being consistent. And while there are some decent natural weight loss supplements on the market these days, none of them are magic pills and all should be used only as directed by a doctor and part of a healthy diet.