Poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to weight gain in the form of visceral fat, which is especially a danger as you age because it increases your health risks. Fat that is located just under your skin is subcutaneous, and fat that is deeply embedded in your abdominal region is visceral. Talk to your doctor to see if your health is at risk because of excess abdominal fat.
You cannot grasp visceral fat with your hand. It is out of reach and inside your body. It lies deeply inside your abdomen, filling the spaces between your organs. Visceral fat wraps around organs such as your liver and spleen. This kind of fat can interrupt the regular function of your organs and produce harmful substances. Though visceral fat is especially prominent in people in their mid-30s and older, people of any age can suffer from its negative effects.
Subcutaneous fat is the kind you can grasp with your hand on any part of your body, including around your middle. While visceral fat is the more dangerous of the two types, subcutaneous fat isn't benign. The added weight caused by overeating and lack of physical activity can stress your joints and increase your risk of heart disease.
Though both kinds of fat are caused by excessive caloric intake and lack of activity, women are more prone to gaining extra fat, especially at menopause. Menopausal women tend to accumulate fat around the waist and near the heart more than men. In women, visceral fat has been linked to gallbladder problems and breast cancer. In men, deeper layers of subcutaneous fat can be related to insulin resistance, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
Visceral fat is associated with heart disease, metabolic disturbances and sleep apnea. Insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes, are also associated with visceral fat.
You can decrease the amounts of visceral and subcutaneous fat in the same way. To reduce your risk, eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and with moderate portions. Exercise daily, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of strenuous aerobic exercise per week. Vigorous aerobics are those that increase your breathing and heart rate such that it is difficult to speak without stopping to catch your breath. Strength training also increases your resting metabolism. Muscle burns energy efficiently, so build your strength to help get rid of fat.