Perhaps the most obvious difference between subcutaneous fat and visceral fat is that you can ‘see’ the subcutaneous version. Subcutaneous simply means ‘below the skin’. You can pinch or poke subcutaneous fat and it feels soft. Visceral fat is sometimes called the hidden fat because it’s found deep in the abdominal cavity, in the spaces surrounding important organs such as the liver and intestines.1,2
Visceral fat makes your stomach stick out and gives your body a round apple shape,2 or pot belly.3 In most people, 90% of body fat is subcutaneous and the remaining 10% visceral. However, visceral fat is associated with a number of serious health issues.1
Until the mid 1990’s scientists thought fat was fat, and it was used as a way of storing energy for use when required. But researchers discovered that fat cells work as if they are an organ that secretes hormones and other substances that can have an impact on the health of other tissues in the body.1
One of the substances released by visceral fat are inflammatory cytokines, which may be associated with insulin resistance and diabetes.5
Visceral fat is also implicated in a number of other serious conditions including:
- Cardiovascular disease and elevated cholesterol issues1,2
- Breast cancer1,2
- Colorectal cancer1,2
- Liver disease 2
- Gall bladder disease2
How do I know if I have visceral fat?
While your ‘belly shape’ may give a clue, it’s not very scientific. And regular scales will tell you your weight, but can’t differentiate between muscle, skin, bone and fat.
If you’d like a more complete picture of what’s going on inside, consider a body composition monitor. A body composition monitor uses complex scientific calculations to estimate the level of muscle versus fat based on the level of resistance to the electrical signal.
Most importantly, the fat that body composition monitors measure includes visceral fat and some can even separate the two in the reporting.
Body Composition Monitors sound expensive, but they’re not. The BodiSure option is very affordable – and it might help you stay healthier by keeping an eye on muscle to fat ratio. Check it out here.