Visceral vs. Subcutaneous Body Fat

Visceral vs. Subcutaneous Body Fat

When we think of fat on our body, we usually picture the extra bit that's packed on during the holidays or when a global pandemic puts the world on hold. Either way, we often think of the fat we see in the mirror, but there are two distinct types of body fat and knowing the difference is beneficial.

Body fat is split into two categories, visceral body fat and subcutaneous body fat. Having too much of either is unhealthy, but there is one that is slightly more worse for your overall health than the other. Before we get into that, lets figure out the difference between them.

Subcutaneous body fat is the jiggly fat right underneath the skin. This is the fat that people often refer to as the spare tire or muffin top, but a greater amount of subcutaneous fat will result in a beer belly (though beer might not be the cause!). Subcutaneous fat is also found in different areas of the body - back, butt, arms, legs and so on, which is another distinguishing factor of subcutaneous fat.

Visceral fat, on the other hand, is stored primarily in our abdomen and it's the fat stored deep within the body. Visceral fat surrounds the vital organs such as the stomach, kidneys, liver and intestines. It's worth mentioning that pro-peritoneal / retro pro-peritoneal fat is similar to visceral fat but it's found in the posterior part of the abdomen. These fats, namely visceral fat, are considered by medical professionals to be worse for your overall health than subcutaneous fat. Why?

There is strong evidence that subcutaneous fat at a lower level may actually be healthy for humans and protect against certain diseases. Visceral fat, however, affects organ function and is converted into cholesterol by the liver which is then carried through the heart and arteries. Visceral fat is a major contributing factor for conditions such as insulin resistance, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

Staying active, eating healthy and reducing your overall fat is the best way to get rid of visceral fat and live a healthier, happier life! Find the tools here!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 28). Healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from
Taking aim at belly fat - harvard health publishing. Harvard Health. (2021, April 12). Retrieved September 23, 2021, from
John Hopkins University & John Hopkins Health System Article

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