The Truth About Fat

Measuring your waist.

Fat. It’s a horrible word isn’t it?

Thrown around regularly in the media and often used to describe celebrities who dare to wear a bikini and flash even the slightest dimply thigh to the paparazzi. It is also a word we use to beat ourselves up. How many times have you said out loud ‘I feel fat today’ or ‘I’m having a fat day’?

But the concept of fat is way more complicated than how you feel when your jeans are a little bit snug after an over indulgent holiday.

It is a common misconception that fat = bad.

But actually, your body needs a healthy amount of essential body fat to maintain health. So here is our Fit for Keeps guide to fat – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Fat Fact #1 – Double Whammy

There are two different types of fatty tissue – subcutaneous (which affects appearance) and visceral (internal and considered dangerous).

Fat Fact #2 – Under Your Skin

The Good: Subcutaneous fat is visible and sits under the skin. It has many important functions including the manufacture of tissue and hormones, providing a source of energy, reducing heat loss and transporting fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K through the bloodstream to where they are needed.


The distribution of subcutaneous fat in men and women.

Fat Fact #3 – Wobbly Bits

The Ugly: It might be controversial to say it, but society today generally considers visible fat (the subcutaneous stuff) to be ugly. It is this fat that most of us focus on and worry about – and it is usually the fat that we all work hard to reduce through diet and exercise. This fat level is easily measured through sight (keep it simple) or body calipers (pinching an inch).

Fat Fact #3 – Hidden Danger

The bad: Or should that be the downright dangerous – visceral fat. It has been in the news a lot recently. Generally considered to be a significant problem, it is stored in the abdominal cavity around your organs. Storing high amounts of visceral fat dangerously affects how hormones function and is associated with the increased risks of a number of health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Fat Fact #4 – Measure that Middle

There is no 100% accurate way to measure your visceral fat without a body scan, however, a really good indicator is to measure the waistline. Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips, breathe out naturally and wrap a tape measure around your waist. Mid-way between these points you will find your measurement.

High Risk
Men – more than 94cm (37 inches)
Women  – more than 80cm (31.5 inches)

Even Higher Risk
Men – more than 102cm (40 inches)
Women – more than 88cm (34.5 inches)

Fat Fact #5 – Tricky Shape Shifting

People who have an excessive amount of fat around their waistline often complain that it is the trickiest fat to shift. I regularly see people in my studio whose tummies are completely out of proportion with the rest of their body. The problem is that belly fat is both visceral and subcutaneous – so double the trouble. And if you are a woman who has reached menopause, it is not unusual for you to deposit more fat in the abdomen than you used to.

However, if you do have an oversized belly, figuring out how much is visceral and how much is subcutaneous is not as important as recognizing that a big belly is unhealthy and needs reducing. It is generally accepted that only a combination of diet and exercise will reduce visceral fat effectively and more quickly than diet alone.

In my next post, I’ll be talking tips to help you tackle that visceral fat using the techniques I have tried and tested in my own studio with my clients.

Enjoy your week and more soon,

Jenny xx

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