Subcutaneous fat (SF) holds about 90 percent of total body fat. It is defined as the layer of fatty tissue between the skin and muscles, also known as hypodermis. It aids in regulating body temperature and contains blood vessels and nerves.
SF is just one of the body’s two main components of total body fat. The other one is Visceral fat (VF), the fat in the innermost parts of the abdominal cavity.
Genetically, each person has a different subcutaneous fat based on their body shape and size. However, if you have too much subcutaneous fat, it can harm your health. This is why you should have a deeper understanding of how it affects your fitness.
5 Roles of SF in the Body
Subcutaneous fat plays vital roles in the body, as follows:
- Energy Storage: SF stores energy in lipids in specialized spaces inside the muscle tissue, protecting against muscle damage due to impacts. Moreover, the nerves and blood vessels use this deep fat layer when transporting your muscles and other skin layers.
- Part of Skin Structure: As part of the hypodermis, the innermost skin layer, SF connects the epidermis, or the middle skin layer, to bones and muscles.
- Reduces Inflammation: Research has shown that SF plays a protective role in the body concerning the endocrine system and inflammation.
- Helps to Produce Hormones: Fatty tissue produces leptin—which helps control feelings of hunger and fullness—and estrogen.
- Protects Organs: Subcutaneous fat acts as a shock absorber for your internal organs and provides them with protection.
However, having too much visceral and subcutaneous fat can lead to several health issues, including insulin resistance, liver steatosis, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension.
5 Causes of Excess Subcutaneous Fat in the Body
Everyone has a layer of fat that lies under the skin, but each person’s physiology is built differently. The amount of this fat varies depending on several factors, including:
- Lifestyle and Activity Level: Sitting for long periods is correlated with storing more fat under your skin due to an increased number of calories being stored and not burning for physical activity.
- Nutrition: Skipping too many meals or eating less than your body needs to keep active can cause you to gain too much subcutaneous fat. Eating highly processed foods with large amounts of sugar and salt can also cause abdominal obesity, including subcutaneous fat.
- Diabetes or Insulin Resistance: People with metabolic disorders cannot break down fat. They may find it more challenging to lose fat than people without metabolic disorders.
- Genetics and Aging: Genetics determines how much subcutaneous fat you will store on various parts of your body, but the exact denomination is still being researched. In addition, aging, especially in women, can decrease subcutaneous fat but increase visceral fat.
- Hormonal Status: Excess cortisol, the stress hormone, leads to fat buildup under your skin. In addition, leptin, the hormone that controls how hungry you feel, may influence how much weight you gain.
Solutions for Managing Excess Subcutaneous Fat
To lessen SF in your body, you need to address issues in your nutrition and then your lifestyle.
Decreasing how many calories you are taking in is the first step to reducing excess subcutaneous fat. A large part of maintaining a healthy diet is managing your caloric needs. This helps you reach and maintain your ideal body weight while consuming many nutritious foods.
Taking in food like whole grains is also more beneficial than refined grains because they are already digested and broken down, so your body can use them.
Additionally, fiber is essential for healthy functioning in the body and aids in weight loss. Moreover, eating healthy fats like unsaturated and monounsaturated fats helps you stay healthy.
When it comes to your lifestyle, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and managing stress can help keep your weight in check. Following this consistently will show significant results in reducing your risk of weight gain.
Additionally, exercise is essential for losing excess fat and helps maintain muscle mass significantly if you cut calories. Calisthenics, running, or going to the gym are all great ways to get exercise.
Subcutaneous fat is essential to a healthy body and has several roles. However, too much of it can present a health risk. Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle can help you prevent carrying too much subcutaneous fat.
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