Subcutaneous fat, while not as dangerous as visceral fat, is much more stubborn and harder to lose.
Also called soft fat, subcutaneous is the layer of fat located just under the skin. You can feel it by just pinching your skin.
What is the difference between subcutaneous fat and visceral fat?
Subcutaneous fat provides energy to your body during high-intensity exercises. It acts as an insulation to protect the body from temperature changes and external trauma.
Subcutaneous fat plays a role in weight loss by producing two hormones, leptin and adiponectin. Leptin acts on the brain to control hunger, while adiponectin improves the sensitivity of fat to insulin and prevents diabetes. However, too much fat disrupts the body’s hormonal balance.
Visceral fat lies deep within the abdomen and envelops organs, such as the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys, as well as muscles and bones. It cannot be measured as easily as subcutaneous fat. However, a protruding abdomen that is hard to touch and not squishy usually indicates an excess of visceral fat. Though some amount of visceral fat is necessary, too much puts you at the risk of lifestyle disorders, such as high cholesterol levels, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.
Visceral fat is typically the first to go away when you start losing weight. You can lose this kind of fat through diet and exercises that help you shed excess pounds. When your calorie intake is less than the number of calories burned, you will lose visceral fat first.
4 exercises to lose subcutaneous fat
If you want to lose subcutaneous fat, you will need to keep doing the activities that help you lose fat regularly. Along with physical activity, calorie restriction is essential.
- Aerobic exercises: These exercises help you lose overall fat, including subcutaneous fat. Examples include brisk walking, running, swimming and jumping rope. To reap the maximum benefits of aerobics, perform these exercises with greater intensity and for a longer duration.
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT involves performing short bursts of high-intensity activities followed by a short resting period or low-intensity activities. For example, you can do mountain climbers for one minute followed by one minute of brisk walking. This kind of exercise strategy helps you lose subcutaneous fat quickly.
- Strength training: Exercises that improve muscle strength and muscle mass do not directly contribute to weight loss or fat loss. More muscle mass means that you burn more calories even when you are resting.
- Stress management: Sometimes, you may follow the right diet and right exercises to lose weight and still not get the desired results. This may be because of stress. Chronic stress stimulates the release of the hormone cortisol, which can hamper efforts to lose weight. Managing stress can help you lose stubborn fat.
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El-Zayat SR, Sibaii H, El-Shamy KA. Physiological process of fat loss. Bulletin of the National Research Centre. 2019 Dec;43(1):1-5. https://bnrc.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s42269-019-0238-z
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