Visceral fat, also known as belly fat or intra-abdominal fat, is the fat that surrounds the organs in the abdomen. Unlike subcutaneous fat, which lies just beneath the skin, visceral fat is deep within the body and can be detrimental to one’s health. Excess visceral fat is linked to a host of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Measuring visceral fat is, therefore, crucial for assessing one’s overall health and reducing the risk of these chronic diseases.
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to measure visceral fat, its importance, and how to maintain a healthy level of visceral fat.
What is visceral fat?
Visceral fat is a type of fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity and surrounds the internal organs. Unlike subcutaneous fat, which lies just beneath the skin, visceral fat is deep within the body and can pose serious health risks when present in excess.
The importance of measuring visceral fat
Measuring visceral fat is important for several reasons. Firstly, it allows individuals to assess their overall health and understand their risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Secondly, it can help individuals track their progress towards reducing their visceral fat levels, which can lead to improved health outcomes.
How to measure visceral fat
There are several techniques for measuring visceral fat, including imaging techniques such as CT scans and MRI, and simpler methods such as waist circumference measurements and bioelectrical impedance analysis.
Techniques for measuring visceral fat
- CT Scans: CT scans are the most accurate way of measuring visceral fat. However, they are expensive and involve exposure to radiation.
- MRI: Like CT scans, MRI is an accurate way of measuring visceral fat but is also expensive.
- Waist circumference measurements: This is a simple and affordable way of measuring visceral fat. A waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women indicates excess visceral fat.
- Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis: This method involves passing a small electrical current through the body to measure the resistance. The resistance provides an estimate of the amount of visceral fat present in the body.
Interpreting visceral fat measurements
Once a visceral fat measurement has been obtained, it is important to interpret the results. A healthy level of visceral fat is less than 12 cubic centimeters for men and less than 9 cubic centimeters for women. Higher levels of visceral fat indicate an increased risk of developing chronic diseases.
Tips for maintaining a healthy level of visceral fat
Maintaining a healthy level of visceral fat is important for reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Here are some tips to help maintain a healthy level of visceral fat:
- Exercise regularly: Exercise helps to reduce visceral fat levels and improve overall health.
- Follow a healthy diet: A healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can help to reduce visceral fat levels.
- Manage stress: Stress can lead to an increase in visceral fat levels. Engage in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
FAQs about measuring visceral fat
- How often should I measure my visceral fat levels?
It is recommended to measure your visceral fat levels every six months to track your progress and ensure that your levels are within a healthy range.
- What is a healthy level of visceral fat?
A healthy level of visceral fat is less than 12 cubic centimeters for men and less than 9 cubic centimeters for women.
- Can visceral fat be reduced?
Yes, visceral fat can be reduced through regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management techniques.
- Is it possible to have a healthy weight but still have excess visceral fat?
Yes, it is possible to have a healthy weight but still have excess visceral fat. This is known as being “skinny fat” and can increase the risk of developing chronic diseases.
- Are there any risks associated with measuring visceral fat?
There are no risks associated with measuring visceral fat using non-invasive methods such as waist circumference measurements and bioelectrical impedance analysis. However, imaging techniques such as CT scans and MRI involve exposure to radiation and may pose a risk to individuals who are pregnant or have other health conditions.