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  1. Measure Your Waist:Use a tape measure; a waist measurement over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men suggests more visceral fat.
  2. Feel the Fat:Pinch your abdomen; if it's firm, it's likely visceral.
  3. Assess Your Fitness:Less active lifestyles tend to increase visceral fat.
  4. Get Professional Checks: Consider CT or MRI scans for a precise fat analysis.
  5. Identify Risk Factors:High sugar intake and stress can increase visceral fat.
Belly Fat

Belly fat, the fat located in the abdominal area, is not created equal. Understanding its nature is pivotal in crafting effective strategies for a healthier lifestyle. But how do you tell the difference between superficial flab and deeper, more concerning fat? Here, we won't meander through complex medical jargon. Instead, we'll unveil insights to identify the type of belly fat you might be dealing with.

Is There a Gender Difference in Gaining Belly Fat?

Yes, there is a gender difference in how and where men and women tend to accumulate fat, including belly fat, largely due to hormonal differences and body composition:

  • Men typically accumulate more visceral fat, the type that surrounds internal organs in the abdominal cavity, leading to the "apple-shaped" body.
  • Testosterone levels play a role in fat distribution. Men with lower levels of testosterone may accumulate more abdominal fat.
  • Men are more likely to store fat in the belly area before other parts of the body, which is why they often show signs of being overweight or having obesityearlier through their waistline.
  • Women are more likely to accumulate subcutaneous fat, which is the fat located just under the skin. This leads to the "pear-shaped" body, with more fat stored in the hips and thighs, especially before menopause.
  • Estrogen influences where fat is stored, and as women reach menopause and estrogen levels decrease, they may begin to gain more visceral fat around the abdomen, shifting closer to the fat distribution patterns typically seen in men.
  • During their reproductive years, women tend to store fat more efficiently due to the requirements of pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Both men and women can gain belly fat through common factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and genetic predisposition. However, due to hormonal changes, men are more susceptible to gaining visceral fat around the abdomen at a younger age compared to women. After menopause, women's risk of developing abdominal fat increases due to hormonal shifts.

Visceral or Over the Muscle

Types of Belly Fat

There are mainly two types: subcutaneous and visceral.

Subcutaneous Fat: This type of fat is located under the skin and above the abdominal muscles. It's the fat you can pinch. While it can increase in volume and contribute to obesity, it is less directly linked to serious health problems compared to visceral fat. However, excessive amounts can still pose health risks and contribute to metabolic disturbances.

Visceral Fat: Found deeper in the abdominal cavity, this fat wraps around the internal organs and is more detrimental to health. Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat is metabolically active, secreting hormones and substances that can lead to chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Because of its location and the compounds it emits, visceral fat is considered a significant health risk.

Which Type of Belly Fat Is Hard to Lose?

Visceral fat can be stubborn but is more responsive to traditional weight-loss strategies than its subcutaneous counterpart. This is a double-edged sword; while it's dangerous, it also means you can target it effectively with the right approach.

Why do You have Belly Fat Even Though You're Skinny?

Having belly fat despite being overall skinny is a condition often referred to as being "skinny fat" , which can be attributed to several factors:

  • Genetics:Your genes can influence where your body prefers to store fat. Some people are genetically predisposed to store fat around their abdominal area, even if they have a low body weight or a slender build overall.
  • Poor Diet:Consuming a diet high in sugars, refined carbs, and unhealthy fats can lead to the accumulation of belly fat. Even if your calorie intake is not high enough to make you overweight, these types of foods can lead to fat being stored around the abdomen.
  • Lack of Muscle Mass:If you're not engaging in strength training or physical activities that build muscle, you might have a higher body fat percentage even if you're slim. Muscle helps burn calories and can affect your overall body composition.
  • Metabolic Health:You can be skinny but still metabolically unhealthy. Factors such as insulin resistance or high levels of triglycerides in your blood can lead to the accumulation of visceral fat around your organs, which is more harmful than subcutaneous fat.
  • Aging:As you age, your metabolism slows down, and there can be a shift in fat distribution, leading to more fat being stored in the abdominal area.
  • Stress and Sleep:High stress levels and poor sleep can lead to hormonal imbalances that increase your appetite and lead to fat accumulation, particularly around the belly.
skinny fat

How to Know If Your Stomach Fat Is Visceral or Over the Muscle?

1. Measure Your Waist

Utilize a simple tape measure to gain insight into your fat composition. For women, a waist measurement exceeding 35 inches, and for men, over 40 inches could indicate a higher accumulation of visceral fat, which is associated with various health risks. To refine your analysis, calculate your waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) by dividing your waist size by your hip size. A higher WHR suggests a greater amount of visceral fat, alerting you to potential health concerns.

2. Feel the Fat

Engage in a physical examination of your abdomen to discern the fat type. If you can easily grasp fat between your fingers, it's likely subcutaneous, the less harmful variety that resides just below the skin. However, if your abdomen presents a firm and expanded appearance, reminiscent of a tight drum, this is indicative of visceral fat. This type lies deeper within the abdominal cavity, cushioning and surrounding your organs, and is not typically grabbable like subcutaneous fat.

3. Assess Your Fitness

Consider your current level of physical activity and muscle mass, as these can influence the type of fat predominating your midsection. An inactive or sedentary lifestyle can lead to an increase in visceral fat, which is more metabolically active and linked to health issues. On the other hand, maintaining a routine of regular physical activity can help reduce visceral fat and build muscle, which in turn helps keep abdominal fat primarily subcutaneous.

4. Get Professional Checks

For a definitive assessment, consider undergoing professional medical evaluations. Imaging techniques such as CT scans or MRI scans offer a clear and accurate visual representation of fat distribution within your body, distinguishing between subcutaneous and visceral fat. Although these methods can be costly, they are invaluable, particularly if there are existing health concerns or if routine self-assessment and lifestyle changes have not led to improvements.

5. Identify Risk Factors

Reflect on your lifestyle, diet, and family medical history. High intake of sugary foods, prolonged stress, and genetic predispositions can all contribute to an increase in visceral fat. Recognizing these factors is crucial, not as absolute determinants, but as significant indicators that can guide your attention towards more focused health and dietary interventions.

Implementing these methods helps you gain a clearer understanding of your type of belly fat and its implications for your health.

Final Words

Grasping the type of belly fat you're battling is the first step towards effective management and elimination. By employing simple self-assessment techniques and understanding the nature of your fat, you're better positioned to tailor your health strategies and mitigate related risks.

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