2

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Is visceral fat healthy?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 13, 2012 at 5:29 PM

I was speaking with a physician, and she told me that first to go is subcutaneous fat- which is the fat beneath your skin - and its main purpose is to act as a store of heat (energy). She said that when people lose weight, subucaneous fat is what drops first. After that, visceral fat drops- the fat surrounding your organs. This got me thinking... Is visceral fat reserved for last because it is somehow useful or protective? Pardon if this is a simple question, but I am not well versed in sciences.

7b4641bc7c610f2944da66f79cc3378a

(298)

on December 13, 2012
at 10:42 PM

I agree that LC diet is good for reverting fatty liver, but I cannot agree that visceral fat is always unhealthy. What about sumo wrestlers? :) http://caloriecount.about.com/forums/weight-loss/dont-sumo-wrestlers-heart-disease

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8 Answers

2
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 13, 2012
at 10:10 PM

I'm gonna go with no, viceral fat is not healthy. I'm also going to agree that your physician is likely oversimplifying. So, as a bit of an oversimplification of my own my understanding is that a low carb diet is very good for reducing viceral particularly hepatic fat.

7b4641bc7c610f2944da66f79cc3378a

(298)

on December 13, 2012
at 10:42 PM

I agree that LC diet is good for reverting fatty liver, but I cannot agree that visceral fat is always unhealthy. What about sumo wrestlers? :) http://caloriecount.about.com/forums/weight-loss/dont-sumo-wrestlers-heart-disease

1
Medium avatar

(10611)

on December 14, 2012
at 02:56 AM

You could find better pictures, but this wll give you an idea. http://www.westheightschiropractic.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/kitchener-chiropractor-visceral-fat.jpg

Two things worth noting here:

-The visceral fat is distributed all through the abdominal cavity. With obesity it physically squeezes the internal organs impairing their function. It's been said that it is a source of toxic chemicals, though I'm not clear on whether this is from the fat or from the malfunctioning organs.

-One easy way to measure your success in eliminating visceral fat is to measure your waistline. The general guideline for men is 38" or less, 32" for women. There is still visceral fat but there is enough space for organs to function normally.

1
Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

on December 13, 2012
at 10:52 PM

Visceral fat is not healthy, but brown adipose tissue is.

1
705e66484ed64fe8e188123de398413e

on December 13, 2012
at 09:59 PM

I definitely don't think visceral fat is healthy, if anything it's the most unhealthy kind of fat.

Here's a Chris Kresser article where he talks about it. He says visceral fat -predicts if you'll develop type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome -produces inflammatory cytokines -can rupture if subjected to pressure variations causing inflammation -predictor of insulin sensitivity, impaired glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglcerides

And he explicitly states that these risk could occur if you have high visceral fat and a relatively low BMI. Is this "skinny-fat"?

Here's the Discover article that talks about Sumo Wrestlers that says they have little visceral fat until they retire.

So I think your doctor may be overgeneralizing. My guess is that people may lose different ratios of subcutaneous fat to visceral fat depending on their starting situation and how they are losing the weight.

1
35bc838bd11ae409f687f7bf2bcae071

on December 13, 2012
at 07:39 PM

I would first seek to verify whether your physician's statement is correct (that subcutaneous fat is shed first). My guess would be that there is a lot of individual variation and that it's not as clear cut as this drops first, then that. My personal experience has been that the last place I want to lose fat from is the first to go :)

0
7b4641bc7c610f2944da66f79cc3378a

on December 13, 2012
at 10:38 PM

Let's keep it simple: any visible fat is healthy unless your liver is healthy.

0
D8612a7c536e74f9855b70d8e97919b5

(1042)

on December 13, 2012
at 07:40 PM

My totally non-scientific explanation is that in modern western society, visceral fat does seem to be burned off last. But take a look at sumo wrestlers. I read somewhere that they actually have relatively low visceral fat even though their subcutaneous stores are off the charts. From all I have heard, visceral fat it bad.

0
2e3477a85563d4b7159814d5f4ea57d3

(435)

on December 13, 2012
at 07:17 PM

I don't think it is reserved, it may just be more stubborn. I couldn't find any information on the web regarding any necessity of visceral fat, but my thinking is that there may be an amount necessary for optimal health/function/protection. An excess is obviously not what you want, but the body requires at least a certain percentage of fat for optimal health, even if it is very low.

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