LOSING HARD FAT VS. SOFT FAT
Researchers are studying whether subcutaneous fat, or soft fat, and visceral fat, or hard fat, should be combated in different ways. More research needs to be done before a conclusion can be reached. To lose any kind of fat, however, you should plan to burn more calories than you consume. Consult your physician for help developing a weight loss plan.
Visceral fat, or hard fat, is found deep within the abdominal cavity in the spaces between internal organs. Visceral fat is associated with metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, according to Harvard Medical School. In women, it is linked with breast cancer and gallbladder problems. Subcutaneous fat, or soft fat, lies beneath the skin and accumulates mostly in the lower body. Hormones and heredity affect where your body fat is distributed.
Exercise may be especially helpful for eliminating subcutaneous fat, according to a 2007 study in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise,” in which sedentary young women were divided into three research groups: one control group, a group that reduced calories and exercised one to two times a week, and a group that ate normally and exercised three to four times a week. Both exercising groups lost an equal amount of body fat, but the group that solely exercised lost more subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat loss seemed to be more affected by diet.
Another study suggests that exercise may help you lose more visceral fat than subcutaneous fat. In the 2000 study published in the journal “Lipids,” non-obese women followed a regular moderate exercise program without making any dietary changes for six months. While they didn’t lose weight, they lost fat, most of which was visceral fat.
To lose weight, aim to burn more calories than you consume. Be sure to include both exercise and diet in your weight loss program. Harvard Medical School recommends regular moderate-intensity physical activity of at least 30 minutes and up to 60 minutes per day to control weight, especially if you’re trying to lose visceral abdominal fat. Strength training may also help fight fat; it builds muscle, which increases your metabolism. Follow a nutritious diet as well. Focus on complex carbohydrates and lean proteins. Don’t follow crash diets, which encourage your body to cling to fat in starvation mode.
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