intramuscular fat

Subcutaneous fat, visceral fat and intramuscular fat – understanding their difference

Each cell in our body is capable of generating it energy like a tiny powerhouse. Raw material for energy production is glucose and fat. Glucose is always available in the blood for regular as well as emergency energy requirement. Fat is more denser and more efficient source of energy. Too much glucose in the blood causes inflammation all over the body. There is no provision of storing glucose in the body except for in the blood. So excess glucose has to be converted to a type of fat called glycogen which can be stored. This is the body fat.

Liver collects the excess glucose from the blood and converts it into glycogen and stores it within itself. Later when needed, the liver converts the glycogen into ketones and releases it into the blood for use as a fuel source for energy production. This essentially happens between two meals if the time gap is kept large.

Problem with frequent meals

Our lifestyle today is eating 5 to 6 times a day and that too a carb heavy meal. Carbs are converted into glucose and released in the blood. Take the example of the most common street food, samosa chole. Outer layer of samosa is refined carb, the filling is starch, chole is partly protein and mostly carb again. With hardly any protein and no fibre at all, this food digests quickly and raises the blood glucose level. Excess glucose is converted into fat by the liver.

Subcutaneous fat

Once the liver gets full, it starts storing fat in the space between skin and muscles. This fat is called subcutaneous fat.

The very first sign of subcutaneous fat is a small fold of skin around the waist, a tiny speed bump which later grows slightly bigger into a love handle.

Later depending on the body type, subcutaneous fat starts accumulating in different part of the body. For example if you are short height, there are many places like hips, underarms, inner thighs where subcutaneous fat be stored.

Visceral fat

The most dangerous kind of fat which is responsible for all those young and healthy people dying of sudden heart attacks.

Firstly they are not healthy. A new term has been coined for such people, TOFI – Thin on the outside and Fat on the inside. Unhealthy diet, excessive drinking, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle creates a situation where a person looks thin and hence is declared fit by friends and family. It is because of a specific body type that fat starts accumulating directly next to the organs. That is called visceral fat.

Visceral fat begins with forming up of a waist line and a small belly. Immediately below the rib cage is the liver which is also the largest organ in the body. When the liver gets full with fat, it starts sending fat in the surrounding space. Fat begins accumulating near the organs.

It is easy to find out if you have visceral fat. The point where your rib cage ends, has to go inside to form a hollow. However if you have a fatty liver, then this is the part of your belly area which comes out as a round and does not form a hollow.

Intramuscular fat

We finally come to the most interesting type of body fat, the intramuscular. Consisting of tiny white droplets, it is not visible to the naked eye. It is stored between the strands of muscles. It is the fastest means of availability of energy for the muscles.

We need muscles for carrying out daily routine activities like climbing stairs or lifting bags. But if you are living a sedentary lifestyle, there is not too much use of muscles. In such a scenario, intramuscular fat requirement is greatly reduced. Hence accordingly storage is also less.

Why is intramuscular fat so interesting

Athletes and sport persons have large amount of intramuscular fat stored in their skeletal muscles. If the amount of fat in your body is going to remain same, there is a definitive possibility that once you start weight and resistance training, your body fat will get readjusted from subcutaneous fat to intramuscular. But this process will take at least a year.

Building muscles will increase the amount of cells in your body which is result in better energy production and consumption.

New muscles will also build new neuron connections which allowed building up the nervous system.

Stronger muscles help you to do the same amount of work in lesser effort like climbing up the stairs or lifting stuff.

Muscle building improves protein synthesis drastically building up other body parts like hair, skin, nails, etc.

Is intramuscular fat dangerous

Heavy exercise builds muscles and strength. It also gives you a great appearance. But along with that it also builds up stocks of intramuscular fat too. Even after you give up training, the build up of intramuscular fat continues. Now this fat gets dangerous. In combination with either visceral fat or subcutaneous fat or both, the intramuscular fat does the same kind of damage.

Improving lifestyle

The dangerous kind of fat build up occurs due to unhealthy lifestyle and heavy carb consumption. Give up on the processed foods, refined carbs and binge eating. Definitely try out intermittent fasting.

However the most important of all, start with weight and resistance training, today.

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