You probably are here on this page because you understand what Visceral fat is. However, if this is your first time, Here’s a quick primer. The fat that is stored around the organs including your liver, kidneys, and pancreas & which we cannot see with the naked eye is called as Visceral fat. The fat that is visible to the naked eye on the belly might be aesthetically displeasing, but turns out it is less dangerous than the Visceral fat which surrounds the major organs.
What is Visceral Fat?
The Visceral Fat is a gel like fat that lies deep underneath the skin & wraps around your major organs that include the Liver, Kidney and the Pancreas.
If You have a protruding belly, It’s one of the biggest sign that you are storing Visceral fat. However, If you are thin, It does not mean that you do not have Visceral Fat.
Stored body fat might be outright displeasing to see, However, Did you know that this fat can also be a cause of diseases like Cancer, Depression, Heart Ailments & more?
Inflammation is the root cause of all diseases. The stored body fat or the Visceral fat as we know it is capable of functioning as an organ of its own & change the way the body behaves.
How does Visceral Fat develop?
The leaner your belly, the healthier you are. A lean belly is a key indicator of health since it simply indicates an optimum level of fat. For most of the times, the body tries to maintain an overall harmony using its own chemical feedback system. It creates a few biochemical reactions to signal all the major organs to function in an appropriate manner.
So, Whether you are gaining weight or feeling a certain mood or storing fat on the belly, it is a group of these biochemical reactions that are responsible for your current state.
Your Blood Sugar levels are largely responsible for your mood and appetite & hence your body weight. Insulin which is secreted by your pancreas control the levels of Blood Sugar in your body.
When we eat a carbohydrate heavy or a sugary meal, the Blood Sugar levels in your body shoot up. Insulin controls these levels in your body so that you keep feeling good. The body digests the meal and breaks it down into simple sugars of Glucose and Fructose. At the core of it, Glucose and Fructose is nothing but Energy. It is the job of Insulin to transport this Energy via the blood stream to all the major organs into their cells so that they keep functioning well.
But while on one hand, it provides energy for the body to function, Insulin is also responsible to store the Visceral fat around your organs.
If the cells have enough glucose for their functioning, the body immediately converts this excess energy into fat. When we eat refined carbohydrates including white sugar, white rice & the likes, they are rapidly converted into glucose and therefore into fat faster.
This is why the sugary meals we eat lead to immediate weight gain on the body. Dr.Josh Axse beautifully describes everything about Visceral fat in this article here – What is Visceral Fat?
The body itself adapts itself to the eating habits & therefore regulates itself internally. So, if you are eating large quantities of sugary meals / refined carbohydrates, It also triggers the pancreas to send a higher dosage of Insulin into the blood stream to digest these carbohydrates faster & therefore maintain optimum blood sugar levels rapidly.
Fat Gain is also responsible for an increased appetite due to increased hormonal activity in the body. It messes up with the appetite & makes the body feel hungry all the time. However, on the other hand the body reacts differently when you eat unprocessed foods like vegetables and fruits.
This is the reason why it is important to kick the sugary habit to maintain optimum levels of weight and fat.
How do you measure levels of Visceral Fat in your body?
It is still difficult to easily measure the levels of Visceral fat in your body in the comfort of your home. However, CT Scans and Sonographies can help you get an idea. An easier way, however, is the visibility of your belly itself. About 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilograms) of weight corresponds to about an inch (1 inch) on the belly. So then, A ball park is that If you are a Male, your waist should not be more than 40 inches and If you are a Woman, Your waist should not be more than 35 inches. When you breach these inches, the body is more susceptible to disease.
If you want to know scientifically on how to measure your waist, Here’s an article from Dummies.com – How to Measure your Waist Circumference and Waist to Hip ratio?
5 Ways to Reduce your body’s risk of storing Visceral Fat
1.Reduce the Levels of Stress
Stress signals the body to produce Cortisol & higher levels of Stress are contributors to a lowered immune function, increased risk of Heart ailments, Weight Gain and Depression too. The way to balance levels of Stress in the body would be through practicing mindfulness and learning a few meditation techniques. Stress relieving Aroma oils could also help to help you feel better. Techniques from Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) which helps to break the stressful patterns of your body-mind also help in reducing Stress.
2.Catch up on Good Sleep
Sleep is your body’s natural signal to demand rest. When you catch on a good night’s sleep and limit exposure to artificial light as well, the body goes into a recovery mode & tries to repair the body as well. It also regulates appetite and helps in maintaining a good metabolism. Don’t you feel fresh after a good night’s sleep? In a modern day lifestyle, a few quick tips to prioritize on good sleep would be – Keeping all cellular devices away from the bedroom, Banishing laptops from the bedroom too, Reducing exposure to blue light source and artificial light sources.
The Body is all you have got. The great B K S Iyengar famously said The Body is my temple and the Asana’s my prayers. The only way apart from nutrition to keep the body in good shape is by exercise. Ideally, the body must be exercised for 45-90 minutes every day. A brisk walk for 60 minutes or 30 minutes of High-Intensity Interval Training or 45 minutes of Swimming or an hour of a jog can all do the trick. Here’s a chart that can help you understand the calorie burn for some of your favorite activities –
4.Replace CarboHydrates with Fruits and Vegetable
Fruits and Vegetables are unprocessed food items which also means that they are lower in sugars and carbohydrates. Also, The body is able to naturally digest Fruits and Vegetables well. When you eat Fruits and Vegetables, You are automatically avoiding the artificial ingredients from processed foods too & thereby keeping the body healthy.
5.Eat good Fats & Proteins
Proteins repair the cell damage. For every pound of body weight, You need .5 grams of protein. Based on your dietary preferences, it is recommended that you make a list of good fats and proteins that are available easily for you.