Visceral Fat and Subcutaneous Fat: Twins or Sisters?

 Have you ever heard the phrase from a makeup artist or your stylist, “Your eyebrows aren’t twins, they are sisters.”? Although funny, this holds a truth about symmetry and the relationship that certain systems of our bodies have with each other, and fat is no exception in how it correlates to one another.

Let’s define each, then compare and come up with a plan!

Visceral Fat: As we spoke about, visceral fat is the “invisible” (we cannot see with our naked eye) fat that is stored inside the trunk wall, in between organs. The definition according to Healthline is, “a type of body fat that’s stored within the abdominal cavity. It’s located near several vital organs, including the liver, stomach, and intestines. It can also build up in the arteries. Visceral fat is sometimes referred to as “active fat” because it can actively increase the risk of serious health problems.”

This fat can accumulate first before you start seeing your ‘belly expand out’. This type of fat has a toxic effect on the body due to a secretion of retinol-binding protein that increases insulin resistance. Visceral fat can also raise blood pressure quickly. This inhibits a lot of hormonal functions of the organs, raises blood pressure, increases weight gain almost “invisibly”, and can thus put your heart at more risk for heart disease!

Therefore, when we start an exercise routine, this is always the fat we would like to go after first! The stress hormone cortisol can actually increase how much visceral fat your body stores, so on top of incorporating more aerobic (fat-burning) exercise into your exercise ‘diet’ , it’s important not to leave out healthy sleep patterns, decreased caffeine intake, and stress reduction techniques.


Subcutaneous fat: This literally means under the skin layer. This is that stuff we can pinch, that protection from the weather and elements when we get cold, and most importantly, a protective barrier to our organs. This fat is also our stored energy, ready for use when we do aerobic workouts! It is particularly harmless to a point, but, too much of everything is never a good thing. This is the type of fat that can literally “weigh us down” and cause more musculoskeletal (joint, tendon, muscle) issues then its worth! When this part expands out, we know we have some work to do!

The good news is, as you tackle this type of fat, you are also losing visceral fat, too. Once again, when your body is stressed, it releases a hormone known as cortisol. In short bursts, this allows us to have a natural reaction to a harmful stimulus that we need to conquer, but prolonged, this can cause a hormonal imbalance which increases our subcutaneous fat storage as well!


The plan:

Fat accumulates when we don’t take care of ourselves. More caffeine, less exercise, less sleep, more low-nutrient foods can all impact our hormonal and overall health negatively. So, to reverse this, we must:

  • Eat more nutrient dense but lower calorie foods (all natural!)
  • Increase your aerobic exercise. Try starting with twice a week 20 minute power walk and eventually build up to 3-4 times a week, 35-45 minutes, with a higher intensity.
  • Make sure you get the proper sleep quality and quantity, which plays a huge role in hormonal regulation
  • Decrease caffeine intake—this will greatly improve your body’s healing process, and thus, keep weight gain at bay
  • Easy tip- simply drink more water! Water helps break down energy needed for exercise, which in turn creates a higher energy burn

Try these 5 easy tips to make sure your invisible fat is decreasing and your visible fat is disappearing before your eyes!