Obsolete indices to measure overweight
What is visceral fat? How can we eliminate it?: Before delving deeper into visceral fat and how we can eliminate it, it is convenient to comment previously on a series of considerations that are important to better understand this concept, and that will surely be interesting.
Although dietetics and nutrition have come a long way in recent times, nutrition professionals continue to fight day after day against the number offered by the bathroom scale and against indices that are totally outdated.
These indexes can usually be seen on pages that supposedly deal with nutrition issues while other values such as visceral or body fat levels, among others, which are truly important and which really give us information on how we are doing, are completely unknown to most of the population.
Is the Body Mass Index (BMI) really reliable? Find out!
Without going too far into this topic, just commenting that the number that the scale gives us does not give us any useful information. Indeed, it can lead to deception since the weight can fit us in a stage that really does not correspond to us:
For example, a person 82.3Kg and 174 cm tall, according to their BMI, gives us the information that they are type II overweight, while their fat can give us an absolutely healthy value.
What does this tell us?
Well, what should really matter to us is not the weight, but the percentage of fat, because the person who has carried out this body composition test was an athlete with a lot of muscle mass, who although logically weighed a lot, he was completely healthy.
Does this mean that the fat percentage is the only important thing?
Neither, because within the fat we have in our body, there are different types. Let’s get to know them.
What types of body fat are there?
Brown or brown fat:
Also known as brown or brown adipose tissue, it is a type of fat that should not worry us since what it does is generate heat, helping to maintain body temperature.
The greatest amount of brown fat is found in newborns, decreasing little by little with age, although without being completely lost.
Beige fat occurs in adults and is made up of white fat on which a hormone called irsin has acted, and which makes it obtain characteristics very similar to those of brown fat.
In recent years it has been highly studied, as it could help a lot to fight obesity, but basically, it is known that this hormone is developed when exercising.
Also known as white adipose tissue, it is what accumulates in our body.
It accounts for approximately 20% of the weight of a non-overweight man and 25% in non-overweight women.
Its main function is to supply in case of needed energy, metabolizing it to obtain glucose for the cells, and it is the cause of obesity and overweight in the event of a poor diet. It increases with age.
White fat should be a concern.
It is divided into 3 types, depending on where that fat accumulates:
- It is the most visible. The typical “tripita” or the typical “michelin” that on an aesthetic level worries us so much.
- usually found just under the skin, in what is known as the hypodermis, and surprisingly enough, it is not usually dangerous to our health.
- It accounts for between 80% and 90% of total body fat.
- In men, it is usually stored more in the abdominal area (around the waist), while in women, it is more likely in the buttocks and hips area, moving after menopause to the belly area.
- Found within our organs, and this is not a good thing.
- Is the fat that we have in less quantity, but, together with visceral fat, it is the most dangerous.
- It is directly responsible, among many other diseases, for the famous nonalcoholic fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, or type II diabetes, in addition to other different cardiovascular and metabolic pathologies.
- It is even associated with some types of cancer, kidney, and neurological diseases, infertility, myostasis …
- And we come to the protagonist of this article: visceral fat, which is basically the fat that surrounds our organs and is as dangerous as ectopic, but we will talk about it in more detail in the next point.
What is visceral fat?
It is the fat that surrounds the internal organs.
We can divide it in turn into the abdominal visceral fat that is the one that surrounds the gastrointestinal organs and the epicardial fat that surrounds the muscle tissue of the heart, but in most cases, when you hear the word visceral fat, they are referring to both together.
It is very dangerous since it is directly related to diseases such as metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, insulin resistance, respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.
It is also important to know that according to a study by the University of Navarra published in the Spanish Journal of Cardiology (REC), epicardial fat increases significantly with age, being somewhat higher in men than in women.
Finally, note that it is very common, albeit erroneous, to call indistinctly visceral fat that surrounds the organs and ectopic fat (that which is within some organs).
What is visceral fat level?
When we talk about the level of visceral fat, we are referring to the percentage of this type of fat that our body has.
Osease, the amount of fat that surrounds our organs located in the abdomen area, as well as that that surrounds our heart.
How can you measure the level of visceral fat?
The most accurate way to measure the level is with a CT or MRI scan.
But without a doubt, the most practical and simple way, and that will also allow us to measure many other parameters with greater or lesser precision depending on their quality, is through a biompedance scale.
You can know much more about these devices in our article on the best bioimpedance scales of 2020.
It should be noted that to measure the percentage of general fat. There is a device called a calipper, caliper, or lipocaliber, either manual or digital, that allows the measurement of skin folds and that in the hands of a professional allows to calculate this percentage quite precisely. but that would not help us to measure the fat that surrounds the internal organs.
- Measure visceral fat.
- It also measures weight, body fat, skeletal muscle, basal metabolism, and BMI
- Can be synced with OMRON connect app via Bluetooth
What is the ideal level of visceral fat?
Before we get into the ideal visceral fat level, let’s talk about the ideal overall fat level, as it is important that we all know the proper levels.
We leave you these two tables, depending on whether you are a man or a woman that can help you to know in what state you are:
Now, let’s go with the question: What is the ideal level of visceral fat?
The visceral fat index is evaluated on a scale ranging from 1 to 59 when diagnosed by images obtained on an MRI or by smart scales capable of calculating body fat, with healthy levels being anything below 12.
What causes visceral fat?
There are different causes that increase the probability of accumulating it. We are going to highlight the main
– Genetic causes: It has been shown that there are people who have a greater genetic propensity to accumulate this type of fat than others. Here, unfortunately, we cannot do much.
– Age: As we have already commented in the article, age is a factor that directly affects the probability of accumulating it. Unfortunately, for now, not aging is not in our hands either.
– Diets rich in fat: It is undoubtedly the most important factor contributing to the accumulation of body fat.
– Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical exercise and sedentary lifestyle is another factor that considerably increases the odds.
We could add other causes that, to a greater or lesser extent, also affect.
Among these causes are menopause in women, smoking, the spirit, not enough rest, stress, obesity, etc.
Who is most at risk of having it?
Anyone who feels identified with the points explained in the previous section, that is, people who do not have healthy habits, who do not exercise, who have a hormonal imbalance, or some type of metabolic disorder.
The size of the waist circumference, when certain values are exceeded, significantly increases the risk, in addition to that of other pathologies.
That does not mean that if these values are not exceeded, we totally rule out having fat around our internal organs or within them, but certainly, the possibilities change a lot depending on whether or not the limit values are exceeded.
In any case, it is always recommended to go to a nutritionist or measure the levels of this type of body fat with any of the methods described in this article, since it is something that is not seen with the naked eye and you could fall within the so-called TOFI ( Thin Outside, Fat Inside), something like thin on the outside, fat on the inside.
How to measure the waist?
To measure the waist, we will use a tape measure of this type:
- 150cm / 60 “
- Large prints make it easy to read.
- Flexible and portable.
This tape should be placed, if possible without the clothing, just in the upper part of the hip bone and usually corresponds more or less to the level of the navel.
The tape should fit snugly (fit one finger at most) and be parallel to the ground.
The waist values that are taken as a reference are:
- 102 cm. for men.
- 88 cm. for women.
In any case, waist values that exceed 95cm. In men and 82cm. They are already considered worrisome.
Why should I also measure my hips in addition to my waist?
There is another index known as the waist/hip index that, although the name is not the most original, is also used as an indicator to determine a greater danger that our organs have surrounding fat.
To calculate it, divide what our waist measures and divide it by what our hips measure.
The values of the waist/hip index that are taken as a reference are:
- 0.95 for men
- 0.88 for women
In case the result that you get is higher than these values, you should pay special attention.
How to measure the hip?
To measure the hip, we will also use a non-metallic tape measure.
With the legs and feet together and, if possible, without clothes, we will place said tape around the hips and buttocks at their widest point.
This point is usually about 15 or 20cm. Lower than the waist.
The tape should fit snugly (fit one finger at most) and be parallel to the ground (you can use a mirror for this).
The waist-height ratio
Another index that can serve as a reference to know if we have a higher risk is the so-called waist-height index (ICA), although it can also be known as the waist-height index (ICE)
It is simply a matter of dividing what our waist measures by our height.
The values from which they could be considered worrying are the following:
- 0.5360 for men
- 0.4920 for women
How can I reduce this type of fat?
- Participate in regular exercise. Specifically, HIIT has shown very good results when it comes to reducing fat, especially combined with strength training.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding too many products rich in simple carbohydrates or saturated fat.
- Sleep regularly.
- Reduce stress levels to the maximum.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Limit the consumption of sodas and sugary drinks.
- Give up smoking.
Would Liposuction help to lower it?
No. Liposuction only removes subcutaneous fat so that it would have no benefit.
If you came this far, you have probably been able to understand two things:
that this type of fat is very dangerous if it is not controlled, and that having a scale that only measures your weight is perfect for decorating the bathroom, but for little else.
Unfortunately, most people do not even know what this type of internal fat exists and simply worry about the typical unsightly “michelin” without seeing that there is something much more important behind taking care of what we eat.
And likewise, most people, when they go on a diet, all they do is weigh themselves, and that’s it as if weight were the most important thing, or even the only thing that matters when reality is quite different.
Hopefully, this article serves to make at least some people aware that taking a little more care of our quality and years of life will increase much more.
The fact that we want to do it depends on each person, but unless we know what there is to be able to choose with knowledge.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the normal percentage of visceral fat?
The visceral fat index is evaluated on a scale ranging from 1 to 59 when diagnosed by images obtained on an MRI or by smart scales capable of calculating body fat. Below 12, it will be considered an adequate and healthy level.