There are two major categories of fat:
1. Subcutaneous Fat
2. Visceral Fat
Subcutaneous Fat is the fat we find under the skin. Its location is very different in men and women.
In women it accumulates very quickly and very easily in those areas known to be feminine: the hips, the “butt” and the breasts. This accumulation is guided by genes and hormones. In moderate amounts, it is very attractive to males. In very large quantities it can be considered disfiguring, although each culture has different values concerning what is attractive and what is not.
In men, subcutaneous fat accumulates under the skin in the abdomen. This accumulation is also guided by genes and hormones. In males, any accumulation of subcutaneous fat is considered unattractive, since males are looked at as fighters or defenders of the tribe.
In the last decade, however, both males and females have become obese throughout the world. This pandemic of obesity is attributed to physical inactivity and the availability of cheap and abundant food. There is a strong correlation between obesity and race, intelligence and education.
These three characteristics are all based on genes.
Anyone who has dissected a small animal, either scientifically or in preparation for cooking knows what visceral fat is. It is always found around the kidneys.
Second to the heart, the kidneys are the next organ necessary for survival. The brain and liver are also necessary for survival, but if the kidneys are removed, the animal dies quickly as toxins created by the body remain in the body. The visceral fat around the kidneys not only supplies energy for the kidney cells, but also acts as a protective defense from trauma to the kidneys.
If we dissect an unborn animal, we will find visceral fat around the kidneys where none is found in other parts of the body. As the animal grows in age, visceral fat accumulates around the intestines as well as the kidneys. This intestinal visceral fat can be misdiagnosed as abdominal subcutaneous fat.
In order to diagnose whether an obese abdomen is made obese from subcutaneous versus visceral intestinal fat, one has only to pinch the skin over the abdominal muscles. If there is very little subcutaneous fat, the protruding abdomen has intestinal visceral fat.
THE PROBLEMS OF VISCERAL FAT
Unfortunately, visceral fat predisposes humans to many types of serious illneses. The most serious illnesses are Diabetes and Cardio-Vascular (or Heart) Disease.
The reason for this predisposition towards these serious diseases is the fact that visceral fat releases large quantities of triglycerides and low density lipoproteins into the blood stream.
This fact is so important that physicians around the world advise their patients to keep their weight low in order to have less visceral fat.
LOWERING VISCERAL FAT
Dieting may reduce total weight, but it is not the best way to decrease visceral fat.
The best way is through exercise!
Animals in the wilderness have low quantities of visceral fat. Survival from predators requires wild animals to run or fly or swim almost constantly. Most likely, in the evolution of mankind, the same motivation kept visceral fat low in humans. Thus, in the age prior to the advent of civilization, humans probably had no cardiovascular diseases and no diabetes.
Today, however, it is these diseases that causes the highest death and disability rates amongst humans.
Many medical science teams have done research in the best way of reducing visceral fat. As mentioned above, it has been discovered that exercise produces the best results.
Below I am going to present an article from Science Daily which summarizes these findings.
Physical Inactivity Rapidly Increases Visceral Fat; Exercise Can Reverse Accumulation
“In findings that should add to the national debate over rising obesity rates in the U.S., Duke University Medical Center researchers have demonstrated that physical inactivity leads to a significant increase in potentially dangerous visceral fat, while high amounts of exercise can lead to significant decreases in such fat over a fairly short time period.
The researchers also found that while lower amounts of exercise prevented the significant accumulation of visceral fat seen in the controls, it did not lead to the improvements seen in participants with higher levels of exercise.
Controlling visceral fat is important, the researchers say, because increased levels have been associated with insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and other metabolic syndromes.
Visceral fat is located around the organs inside the belly and is deeper in the body than subcutaneous fat, which lies under the skin.
In the first randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effects of varying amounts and intensities of exercise in sedentary overweight men and women, the researchers were surprised at how rapidly fat accumulated deep in the abdomens of study participants who did not exercise. This rapid accumulation of visceral fat emphasizes the high cost of a sedentary lifestyle.
“The results of our investigation show that in sedentary overweight adults who continue to choose a sedentary lifestyle the detrimental effects are worse and more rapid than we previously thought,” said Cris Slentz, Ph.D., who presented the results of the Duke study today (May 28, 2003) during the 50th annual scientific sessions of the American College of Sports Medicine.
“We probably should not have been surprised since this simply mirrors the increasingly rapid rise in obesity prevalence seen in the U.S., where presently two out of three adults are overweight or obese.
“On the other hand, participants who exercised at a level equivalent to 17 miles of jogging each week saw significant declines in visceral fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat and total abdominal fat,” Slentz continued.
“While this may seem like a lot of exercise our previously sedentary and overweight subjects were quite capable of doing this amount.”
Specifically, participants who did not exercise had an 8.6 percent increase in visceral fat after eight months, while those participants who exercised at the highest amount saw a 8.1 percent decrease in visceral fat.
Additionally, the Duke team found interesting difference between men and women.
“In the group of subjects who did not exercise, the men had a 1.5 percent increase in weight, while the women had a 0.6 percent increase,” Slentz said. “However, the women experienced an 11.6 percent increase in visceral fat, more than twice the amount of the men (5.7 percent). That the women experience less of a weight gain but gained a higher proportion of visceral fat suggests an aggressive accumulation in women that needs further study.”
To better understand the effects of differing amounts of exercise, the researchers randomized 170 participants into one of four groups: no exercise, low dose/moderate intensity (equivalent of 11 miles of walking per week), low dose/vigorous intensity (11 miles of jogging per week) or high dose/vigorous intensity (17 miles of jogging per week).
The exercise was carried out on treadmills, elliptical trainers or cycle ergometers in a supervised setting. In order to determine the role of exercise alone, participants were not allowed to change their diet during the course of the study. The researchers used computed tomography (CT) both before exercise and eight months later to determine the extent and distribution of fat change.
“There were no significant changes in visceral, subcutaneous or total fat in either of the low exercise groups for men or women, which suggest that this amount of exercise is adequate to prevent significant gain in fat around the stomach and that the amount of exercise is more important than the intensity,” Slentz said. “The data emphasizes the high cost of continued physical inactivity, the preventative abilities of modest amounts of exercise, and the substantial benefits to be gained by performing 50 percent more exercise each week (17 versus 11 miles per week).”
The Duke team was led by cardiologist William Kraus, M.D., who received a $4.3 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in 1998 to investigate the effects of exercise on sedentary overweight adults at risk for developing heart disease and/or diabetes.
The results of that five-year trial, dubbed STRRIDE (Studies of Targeted Risk Reduction Interventions through Defined Exercise), are now being published and presented.”
The above study is only one of many proving that exercise can reduce visceral fat. This Duke University study, however, is the classic study in this area of research.
My only philosophical comment is that everything in the Universe that is worthwhile requires work.
If you are lazy: Goodbye!
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