Understanding Body Fat
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Visceral Vs. Subcutaneous Fat
Body fat is stored in somewhat different ways in each of us, resulting in a wide range of body shapes and sizes.
Some people store it in their thighs and buttocks, while others prefer to store it in their upper arms and chest. Some of us have a more uniform distribution of body fat, while others have it concentrated in specific locations.
While fat in some places may cause us concern, a protruding waistline is the leading cause of health problems, and this is due to the various types and quantities of fat deposits we have in our bodies.
The two main types of fat stores in our bodies are subcutaneous and visceral fat:
Subcutaneous fat is defined as body fat that is situated directly beneath the skin, is pinchable, and can be measured with body fat/skinfold callipers.
Visceral fat (also known as abdominal fat) is situated within the abdominal cavity, between the stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys, and other organs, making measurement more difficult. The stomach, liver, and intestines are all surrounded by this sort of fat. Because it cushions the organs and surrounds key blood arteries delivering blood to abdominal organs, everyone has some visceral fat. There are, however, some warning indicators of excessive visceral fat.
The phrase “subcutaneous” refers to the area just beneath the surface of the skin. Subcutaneous fat, like visceral fat, is found in every human being because it is a part of the connective tissue layer that protects deeper systems. Pinchable subcutaneous fat can be found anywhere on the body, however it is more frequent in the lower body. This means it’s less hazardous than the alternative in your abdomen, which is deeper. It is, however, a cause for concern when used in large quantities.
Genetics, lifestyle, sex, and age all influence body shape and size. While food and exercise can change your body’s size, heredity plays a big role in determining the form of your body and where fat deposits accumulate.
There are numerous methods for determining body fat and assessing weight-related health risks. Calculating the waist-to-hip ratio and the Body Mass Index (BMI), which evaluates body fat based on height and weight, are two common ways. Other ways of measuring visceral fat are limited since they do not distinguish between fat types. Waist measurement is an excellent way to quantify visceral fat. According to a 2010 meta-analysis, there is a definite link between BMI and mortality, with underweight and overweight BMIs both increasing death.
What can you do if you suspect you are carrying a lot of visceral fat?
It’s no different than losing fat from any other part of your body. The sole distinction is that visceral fat loss improves metabolic and inflammatory health markers more than subcutaneous fat loss, as indicated by the fact that liposuction (which only removes subcutaneous fat) has little effect on these health parameters.
The greatest strategy to lose all types of body fat is to combine an active lifestyle with a healthy, well-balanced diet. High-intensity exercise, according to certain research, is particularly good for fat loss, particularly visceral fat. So start sprinting and lifting hefty weights!
Subcutaneous fat appears to serve a protective role in obese persons with a lot of visceral fat, according to research. Subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, can be a symptom of visceral fat. People with a lot of subcutaneous fat are more likely to have a lot of visceral fat as well.
Everyone has some subcutaneous fat, but the quantity of subcutaneous fat that each individual acquires is influenced by lifestyle factors such as nutrition and activity, as well as heredity. People are more prone to gain visceral and subcutaneous fat when:
- They are sedentary or sit for long periods of time.
- They don’t get much cardiovascular exercise, if any at all.
- They don’t have a lot of muscle mass.
- They consume more energy than they expend.
- They have diabetes or are insulin resistant.
It can be challenging to remove both types of fat. The following are some of the variables that make losing weight difficult:
Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance is linked to visceral fat, making it difficult to shed both visceral and subcutaneous fat.
Weight loss strategies: People with a lot of subcutaneous fat frequently make the error of attempting to spot-reduce the fat by doing a lot of stomach exercises, for example. This method is less effective than attempting to burn fat all throughout the body.
Inflammation: According to studies, visceral fat releases cytokines that cause inflammation. This inflammatory reaction has been linked to weight gain and may contribute to the accumulation of subcutaneous fat.
Subcutaneous fat can be burned by burning visceral fat. Visceral fat should be targeted for good health.
Your genetics, like your BMI and obesity, can predispose you to having excess or harmful visceral fat.
It’s been proven that where you store your fat is inherited. Heritability was assessed to be 56 percent for visceral fat and 42 percent for subcutaneous fat in the Quebec Family Study.
Heritability estimates of above 70% have been found in other investigations, implying a considerable genetic influence on fat distribution.
Dangers of Visceral Fat
Visceral fat is linked to a number of dangers. Deep abdominal fat may play a role in insulin resistance and inflammation, which can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, according to some research. Visceral fat is also a substantial predictor of death in men, according to research.
Risks of visceral fat include:
Diabetes: Diabetes, which can cause long-term disorders affecting the eyes, kidneys, heart, brain, feet, and nerves, is increased by visceral fat..
Hypertension: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has been linked to visceral fat, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Heart disease: People with a lot of visceral fat are more likely to get heart disease, which includes blood vessel difficulties, coronary artery disease, and valve abnormalities.
Cancer: Obesity, particularly excess visceral fat, has been associated to cancer of the colon, pancreatic, breast, and kidney, among others.
Dementia: A relationship between obesity and dementia has been discovered by researchers. According to one study, those with the largest abdomen measurements were three times more likely to acquire dementia than those with the smallest measurements.
Understanding Body mass index, or BMI
The BMI, or body mass index, is one approach to determine if your weight is within a healthy range. The BMI is a statistic that combines a person’s height and weight to determine their risk of having the disease.
Your waist circumference is another useful metric for identifying whether you’re at risk for obesity-related chronic disorders. Waist circumference is a better predictor of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in women than BMI.
BMI has been discovered by health researchers to be a good predictor of adult health and lifespan – not necessarily for an individual, but for a group of people with the same BMI. Researchers have discovered that those with a BMI of 30 are more likely to suffer from a major illness and die younger on average than those with a BMI of 20.1
Although BMI is not ideal, it is often accepted as the most useful and relevant measure for adults. The World Health Organization and the Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, Adolescents, and Children both advocate using it.
Differences in BMI
When calculating BMI, a score of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered to be within a healthy weight range for people. There are, however, some exceptions. The BMI range for a healthy weight, for example, is:
- Lower for people of Asian background
- Higher for those of Polynesian origin
- Higher for older people
- Higher for elite athletes with higher than normal levels of lean body tissue.
It’s vital to remember that the BMI formula is only applicable to adults and should not be used to determine a child’s healthy weight.
BMI is affected by pregnancy as well, but a woman’s weight gain during pregnancy is required for a healthy baby and should only last a few months.
Calculating your BMI
The Healthy Weight Guide BMI calculator can help you determine your BMI.
To determine your BMI on your own, use the following formula:
The BMI is calculated by multiplying your weight in kilogrammes by your height in metres squared.
The chart may also assist you in calculating your BMI at a glance.
So, how do you classify BMI and what does it mean?
- Less than 18.5 Underweight
- 18.5–24.9 Healthy weight range
- 25–29.9 Overweight
- 30 and over Obese
What does BMI mean for you?
Your BMI falls into the underweight category if it is less than 18.5. This could be harmful to your health. There are numerous advantages to maintaining a healthy weight. Consult your doctor to learn more about these issues.
Your BMI falls into the healthy weight range if it is between 18.5 and 24.9. This is often beneficial to one’s health. The issue is to maintain that weight as you get older and avoid gaining weight.
Your BMI falls into the overweight group if it is between 25 and 29.9. This could be harmful to your health. There are numerous advantages to losing weight, and even a tiny amount of weight loss can have a significant impact on one’s health.
If your BMI is 30 or over, you are considered obese. This could be harmful to your health. There are numerous advantages to achieving a healthy weight, and even a small amount of weight loss can provide health benefits. You might also benefit from more supervised advice; speak with your doctor about how decreasing weight might help you improve your health and well-being.
Remember that BMI is only one method for determining whether or not you are at a healthy weight.
You might also try measuring your waist circumference to see if you’re at risk for chronic disease caused by obesity.
Diet and Lifestyle Theory of Body Fat Causes
Everything has its own set of theories. So, if your body fat is a mystery, you might want to try a different strategy. This is just an idea, but many people believe it, so it’s worth considering. Many people think of abdominal fat or belly fat when they think about fat. Excess fat does not just occur in the belly, but also in other parts of the body. It’s because various people have different bodies and act in different ways. The 6 main forms of body fat and the reasons of each type are listed below.
- Full upper body fat: Overeating and sugary food consumption contribute to this type of fat.
- Lower abdomen fat: Stress, despair, and anxiety all contribute to this sort of fat.
- Large stomach with upper back fat: Inactivity is the cause of this form of fat.
- Lower body fat: Excess gluten in your diet, such as bread or whole grain, causes this sort of fat.
- Swollen stomach: This might occur as a result of excessive alcohol consumption or as a result of breathing difficulties.
- Lower body fat, including lower legs: This sort of fat is frequently passed down down the generations or develops during pregnancy.
Adipose Tissue /Fat
Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet, particularly foods high in carbohydrates and fats, are recommended for shedding these forms of fat. It’s also a good idea to cut down on your alcohol intake and quit smoking. If these suggestions haven’t worked for you, you may have obesity, in which case you should seek medical guidance on how to reduce weight effectively. Gastric Balloon Insertion is a safe and effective medical treatment for overweight and obesity that is now available. It can help you lose up to 24 kg over the course of a year. Aside from the use of a gastric balloon, another medical treatment for obesity is the use of a weight control pen, commonly known as a Liraglutide pen. It will slow stomach motility, allowing the food to stay in the stomach for longer, making you feel full for hours. People who undergo Liraglutide injection (3.0ml./Day) for 12 weeks or 3 months can lose at least 5 – 10% of their body weight, according to research.
Where is the Adipose Tissue?
Body fat is a term used to describe adipose tissue. It can be found in every part of the body. It’s found beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat), surrounding internal organs (visceral fat), between muscles, in bone marrow, and in breast tissue. Men are more likely to store visceral fat (fat around their internal organs), which can lead to obesity in the centre of their belly. Women, on the other hand, retain more subcutaneous fat in their buttocks and thighs. The sex hormones produced by males and females cause these disparities.
What is Adipose Tissue?
Adipose tissue, sometimes referred to as fat tissue or fatty tissue, is a connective tissue made up primarily of fat cells known as adipocytes. Adipocytes are fat-storing cells with enormous globules of fat called lipid droplets that are surrounded by a network of fibres.
Adipose tissue is a type of connective tissue that forms when mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into adipocytes during foetal development. Mesenchymal stem cells are pluripotent cells that can differentiate into fat cells, bone cells, cartilage cells, and muscle cells, among other cell types.
Adipocytes are divided into three categories based on their origin, location, and function: white, brown, and beige adipocytes. The most prevalent adipocytes in the human body are white adipocytes. They’re mostly empty save for a single big lipid droplet and a few cellular organelles. Brown adipocytes are metabolically active cells with a high concentration of mitochondria and numerous lipid droplets (a cellular organelle that allows brown adipocytes to generate heat). Beige adipocytes, also known as Brite adipocytes, are found dispersed among pockets of white adipocytes and have the ability to create heat when exposed to cold or when particular nerve adrenergic receptors are stimulated.
Adipose tissue can be categorised into two functionally different tissues based on the kind of adipocytes: white adipose tissue, which is mostly formed of white and beige adipocytes, and brown adipose tissue, which is primarily composed of brown adipocytes. Brown adipocytes have a higher concentration of iron-containing mitochondria, which gives brown adipocytes their dark colour.
What does Adipose Fat Do?
Adipose tissue is now widely recognised as a vital and functioning endocrine organ. Adipocytes (or fat cells) are widely known for their involvement in the storage and release of energy throughout the human body. The endocrine function of adipose tissue has just lately been discovered. Adipocytes are just one type of cell in adipose tissue, which comprises a variety of other cells that can create hormones in response to signals from the rest of the body’s organs. Adipose tissue regulates glucose, cholesterol, and sex hormone metabolism through the effects of these hormones.
Where is adipose tissue found?
Adipose tissue can be found throughout the body in a variety of locations. The most common form of fat in humans is white adipose tissue. Subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, and bone marrow fat all include it. Subcutaneous fat can be found all throughout the body, in the gaps between the skin and the muscles beneath it. Visceral fat is primarily present around the liver, intestines, and kidneys in the abdominal cavity, as well as in the peritoneum (a serous membrane that lines the outside of the abdominal organs). The bone marrow also contains white adipose tissue (a sponge-like tissue present in the central cavity of bones). White adipose tissue is also found in the pericardium, which surrounds the heart, and in the soles of the feet, eyeballs, and specific blood veins, among other places.
Brown adipose tissue, commonly known as brown fat, is predominantly present during foetal life and in neonates, unlike white adipose tissue. Brown adipose tissue is mostly found on the back of neonates, running along the top half of the spine, between the shoulders, and around the kidneys. The quantity of brown fat in your body diminishes as you become older. Brown fat deposits can still be detected around the vertebrae, above the clavicles, in the upper back, and in the mediastinum in adulthood (the central compartment of the thoracic cavity).
Adipose tissue accounts for 20–25 percent of total body weight in healthy adults. Nonetheless, individual body fat percentages vary greatly, ranging from less than 10% to over 40% of total body weight. Increased adipose tissue levels have been linked to a variety of health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, among others.
What is the function of adipose tissue?
White adipocytes’ primary purpose is to store extra energy in the form of fatty molecules, primarily triglycerides. Insulin, glucagon, catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline), and cortisol are all hormones that control fat storage. These hormones can either increase adipose tissue creation and storage (lipogenesis) or induce fat release from adipose tissue, depending on the body’s immediate energy needs (i.e. lipolysis). Adipocytes, for example, can enhance the intake of blood glucose and convert it to fatty molecules under the influence of insulin, resulting in increased fat storage.
White adipose tissue secretes various biologically active substances known as adipokines, which perform critical endocrine and metabolic functions in addition to being an energy-storing reservoir. These molecules play a role in a range of processes, including energy balance, food intake and satiety, inflammatory response, and steroid hormone metabolism. Finally, white adipose tissue cushions and protects bodily parts while it insulates the body from excessive temperatures.
Brown fat, on the other hand, is primarily responsible for using energy to generate heat through a process known as non-shivering thermogenesis, which is an important defence mechanism for protecting babies from hypothermia. In adulthood, non-shivering thermogenesis is replaced by shivering thermogenesis, which is mediated by skeletal muscular contraction.
What could go wrong with adipose tissue?
Both too much and too little adipose tissue can be harmful to one’s health. Obesity is more usually caused by excess adipose tissue, particularly visceral fat. Obesity causes a slew of major health issues. Obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by causing the body to become insulin resistant. High blood sugar levels come from this resistance, which is harmful to one’s health. Obesity also increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a blood clotting tendency. All of these factors increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
Lipodystrophy, or a lack of adipose tissue, can also create comparable difficulties and is becoming more common as a result of HIV/AIDS therapy.
People with eating disorders (such as anorexia nervosa) do not eat enough food to keep their adipose tissue levels stable. This means they could shed an unhealthy quantity of weight.