From: Dr. Karima Hirani, M.D. - M.P.H.
Dated: April 9, 2013
Visceral Fat Vs. Subcutaneous Fat
Most know that having a large belly may be unhealthy. But did you know that not all belly fat is bad? Much of the fat in the stomach area lies directly under the skin. This is called subcutaneous fat and is not necessarily hazardous to your health. The fat that is harmful is the unseen fat around your organs, otherwise known are visceral abdominal fat. You may have visceral fat but yet not be obese.
A study done in 2004 showed that patients who instantly lost 30 pounds of subcutaneous fat through liposuction surgery had no health improvement if they had a lot of visceral abdominal fat that remained. Visceral fat around abdominal organs cannot be liposuctioned unfortunately.
Risk factors including blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin sensitivity are not improved with loss of subcutaneous fat from the liposuction procedure.
Visceral fat is linked to diabetes and heart disease much more than BMI (body mass index.) Researchers believe that visceral fat may just be a side effect of an unhealthy lifestyle. What is important to know is that most people with a lot of belly fat also have a lot of visceral fat.
If you want to get rid of visceral fat and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes, start with cutting down on your calories and getting more exercise. When people slim down through exercise and diet, visceral fat disappears twice as fast as subcutaneous fat according to Dr. Klein, Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science at Washington University School of Medicine.
At my clinic the patient with obvious visceral and subcutaneous fat is put on a specific Mediterranean diet with individualized caloric content based on their metabolic expenditure. We can easily measure your base metabolic rate with electronic instruments in my office. This along with some supplements or medical food (in the form of protein shake) and diet prescription is a very effective way of lowering your risk of heart disease and diabetes, by loosing the right belly fat!