Body Fat…is it all the same?
Updated: Feb 19
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Most people who are starting out on a weight loss journey usually have one main focus - to lose weight and reach a certain ‘goal weight’ so you’ll have the amazingly toned body you have always dreamt of and you’ll be healthy and everything will be perfect. Sadly, this can be far from the truth due to something we all know and love (or not so much!) body fat!
But did you know there are two main types of fat within our body? Subcutaneous Fat and Visceral Fat.
Both are very important but it’s important to understand the difference between them…
What is Subcutaneous Fat?
Subcutaneous Fat is the fat which is under the skin. We are all born with it and we should carry a certain amount on our body for quite a few reasons such as:
- for insulation to help regulate our body temperature
- to store our bodies energy
- for use as the passageway for our blood vessels and nerves between our skin and muscles
- as a protective layer of padding for our muscles and bones
- connecting our skin to our muscles and bones.
For something most of us don’t like having as it can make us look and feel squidgy and lumpy and bumpy it’s a pretty useful and a hard working part of our anatomy. However some of us, me included, carry too much of it and not only that it doesn’t look very nice it can be bad for our health and is said to be related to:
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
- certain types of cancer
- kidney disease
- high blood pressure
- fatty liver disease
- sleep apnea
Definitely illnesses and diseases I want to try and avoid!
So what is Visceral fat then?
Visceral Fat is the type of body fat that is stored in our abdominal area near and around our vital organs,such as our liver, stomach, and intestines as well as building up in our arteries.
Carrying excess visceral fat is said to increase our risk for developing several serious long-term, life-threatening medical conditions such as:
- Heart attacks and heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
Again, illnesses and diseases I definitely want to try and avoid!
So how do we lower our subcutaneous & visceral fat levels?
Some people recommend the way to lose subcutaneous fat is to just lose weight, however, from my own experience this is not exactly the case! After losing over 9st (126lbs) I still had a higher subcutaneous body fat percentage than I wanted or expected mainly through diet alone, although I did do some exercise, although maybe not the right sort or enough.
I have now learnt it is advised to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day including both cardio and strength training. Although both my body fat levels are in the healthy range, I would still like my subcutaneous fat % to be at the lower end of the range, so I’ve taken on board the advice and have started doing a 20 minute skipping HIIT training session (30 seconds skipping followed by 30 seconds rest for 20 mins) plus a 30 minute strength and flexibly workout at home on my Aeropilates Reformer, 3-5 days a week! Keep an eye out in the Members Area to see how its working!
As you can see body fat is not all the same and it’s important to not just lose our excess subcutaneous fat to look and feel better, but our visceral fat too for overall great health and so not to become a ’skinny fat’ person. Replacing our fat with lean muscle mass by burning off our excess fat lbs with exercise and feeding and growing our muscles with good nutrient dense food fuel and portion control we surely must be onto a winning strategy!
If you want to know more about why and how I measure my body fat, both subcutaneous and visceral take a look at my post To weigh or not to weigh?
Why I’m trying to replace fat with muscle! (coming soon)
I try to keep my blog posts short and sweet as I know an overload of information can become mind boggling so be sure to check out my other posts here.