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Visceral Fat: The Unseen Danger

What Visceral Fat Does to the Body

When you hear the term "active fat," doesn't it make you think that the fat would might not be that bad for you!  You know…because it's active, right? 

Well, if you think that, you are wrong. As it turns out, that "active fat," also knows as visceral fat, is actually worse for you than the other subcutaneous fat you may have which hangs out just under your skin.

You can actually see the subcutaneous fat on your arms, your waist, tummy, back, legs…and it's annoying because it affects how you feel about yourself, and makes it harder to find cute clothes.

The reason why the "active fat" is worse for you is that it is deep in your abdomen and could be hugging your organs, veins and arteries making it harder for the organs to work at their peak momentum.

It’s called active fat because when it is getting all cozy with your organs, it can actually become a part of the organs and start to take some of the cellular functions of the organs into the fat!

Why Is Visceral Fat Worse Than Subcutaneous Fat?

Even though the next few paragraphs are about subcutaneous fat, I thought you might like to know what the current thinking is regarding a possibility of why you can't lose weight and possibly gain!

Leptin, a hormone found in subcutaneous fat, is actually considered a good hormone and is also called the satiety hormone. What it does is help you feel full so you don't eat as much in the long-term. When your weight goes up, so does your leptin. When your weight goes down, so does your leptin level.

If someone gained weight, the leptin triggered the hypothalamus to lower the hunger so the body could burn more fat.

But while doing research on why obese people, they discovered leptin resistance. Somehow, your brain doesn't receive the signal to lower hunger levels and thinks your body is starving. 

Not only that, your brain wants you to regain body fat, so it lowers your energy levels so you burn less calories. 

Top that off with your brain wants you to eat more!

The Active Fat in Your Body

How to Overcome Leptin Resistance

Basically, the way to conquer leptin resistance is to use discipline. Here are three ideas to get you started.
  • Create rules for yourself about when you will not allow yourself to eat...i.e. not after 8 in the evening.
  • Decide ahead of time what foods you will eat. Allow a cheat treat once or twice a week, but no more.
  • Plan your sleep habits so you get the recommended amount of sleep.
  • Try natural supplements that lower your appetite, increase your metabolism as well as your energy. 

Let's Talk About Why Visceral Fat Is Dangerous

It is normal to have SOME visceral fat, but too much can be dangerous.

It wasn't until 1994 that Leptin was found, and it took a while after that to discover that visceral fat actually creates several other hormones. Unfortunately, it seems that most of the hormones lead to detrimental consequences. For instance:

  • Chemerin (discovered in 1997) increases inflammation as well as blood pressure
  • Resistin (discovered in 2001) Mediates resistance to insulin, meaning it increases production of LDL cholesterol & degrades the liver's receptors, meaning there is more LDL in the arteries. NOT good. 
  • Other hormones not listed here on this blogpost, but you can find here, if you so desire. 

You can find a video explanation with more scientific terms and showing a study at the end of the post.

How is Visceral Fat Formed?

If you think because you're thin that you don't have visceral fat, you could be wrong. Even thin people who look like they don't need to worry about it could have visceral fat hanging out deep inside their abdomen.

How Can a Thin Person Have Visceral Fat?

Do you know all the times that you are stressed out and feel like you are overwhelmed, or just don't want to take it anymore?

Well, that stress can cause a fight or flight response, a trigger for cortisol production and also is one of the causes of visceral fat, aka hard fat. You can tell it from other fat because it's not the squishy fat on your abdomen. 

If you have a protruding abdomen that feels hard, you probably have visceral fat there. For a guy, that could be your hard beer belly.

One clue for a woman is if your waist is 35 inches or larger, you should be thinking about how to lose some visceral fat for health reasons if for no other reason. 

The same goes for guys if your waist is 40 inches or larger.


Visceral fat has a type of receptor that actually attracts cortisol…you know the hormone that your body puts out when you're stressed. 

And when you are stressed, one of the things a lot of people like to do (me included) is to have comfort food…as in carbohydrates.

Guess what?

Those same carbohydrates go straight to the visceral fat, so that fat continues to grow, you get stressed again, eat more carbs, & grow the visceral fat even more. 


To top it off, you continue to feel worse and worse with more aches and pains.


You've probably heard about how inflammation is bad for you and can cause diseases. 

Visceral fat is at it again when it comes to inflammation.

It makes you susceptible to diseases such as:

  • Heart disease & heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Alzheimer's disease


So you can pretty much predict that considering carbohydrates create more visceral fat, that diet is going to be one of the main things to consider when you decide to challenge this "thing" that is growing in your body!

I'm sure you know that drill.

Eat healthier and include exercise in your daily routine…while aiming for both cardio and strength training.

Daily Actions = Success

It is so easy to get discouraged when you have a goal like this. What you have to remember is to not focus on the results…yet! When you start seeing some results, celebrate them.

But in the meantime, focus on taking daily actions toward your goal. Give yourself a little reward…say when you complete a week of healthy eating & exercise. 

Try to make it something a not food-related reward, but if you have to have food, keep it a one-time thing until the next celebration.

The results will come from those actions, and in the meantime, you have the daily small celebrations leading up to celebrating your success later on.

Just think about how you'll actually FEEL when you not only look better but feel so much better! 

When you start seeing those results and feeling the difference, you'll probably want to make these new healthy habits a part of your routine for a lifetime!


My most recent blood pressure measurement November 21, 2019P.S. Sometimes a little boost helps you get going on weight loss...at least that's what I've found! (it's in My Favorite Things up at the top)

I'm not one that usually likes any weight loss supplements, but with the natural one I'm using, I've had more energy without naps, and I can actually feel the areas that the fat is disappearing from. Not to mention I'm down a size in clothes. Yay!

The best part is it must be making me healthier because my blood pressure is now normally around 120/73....AND I never feel hungry! Good stuff!


Gotter, Ana. "Visceral Fat." Published October 5, 2017. Medically Reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT NASE Level II-CSS, Specialty in fitness. https://www.healthline.com/health/visceral-fat.

Rose, Emma. "How to Lose Visceral Fat and Why It's So Bad For You." https://www.bulletproof.com/diet/weight-loss/how-to-lose-visceral-fat/

DeLauer, Thomas, Lead Nutrition Coach. ""How to Burn This Type of Fat that Causes Belly Fat and Weight Gain." Sixpackabs.com. Video from Youtube.com

Pulmonary Advisor. Written by Laurel Ranger. Asthma Affected Differently by Subcutaneous and Visceral Abdominal Fat. September 10, 2018.