“She is thin. She is fit”. This is a misconception most of us have. Being thin doesn’t necessarily mean being fit. Most of us envy that slim girl next door, who hogs junk foods day in and day out but hardly gains weight. But it would be interesting to note that it could be purely because her fats are deposited around her organs and not under the skin that she doesn’t look fat. This is a lesser-known dangerous condition, referred to as Thin Outside Fat Inside (TOFI).
Even people who are health conscious and maintain their weight through diet, rather than exercise, are likely to have major internal fat deposits even if they look slim. Without getting clear alarming signals of visible belly fat, thin people falsely assume that they are healthy. Usually people who are fat from inside are essentially on the verge of being obese in future purely because they consume more sugary and fatty foods, doing little exercise.
HIDDEN DANGERThough the immediate consequence and the exact danger of having excessive deposits of internal fats are not clear, it is suspected that it will increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes in the long term. The excessive internal fat deposits disrupt the body’s internal communication system. When fats create a layer around the internal body organs, it might mistakenly send chemical signals to store fat inside the organs like liver or pancreas, which could lead to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Fat and active people can be actually considered healthier than their skinny, yet inactive, counterparts. It is important to burn off internal fat by doing regular exercise or by even improving our diet.
Frequent physical movement in the body has an aggressive effect on visceral fat (excess intra-abdominal adipose tissue accumulation) which helps keep the body healthy and fit. Visceral fat envelops deep among the muscles and around the organs, and releases certain kinds of hormones which disrupt the body’s ability to balance its energy needs.
BODY MASS INDEXFor many years, the gold standard of health was the BMI (Body Mass Index). We calculate this by dividing the accurate weight in kilograms by height in metre squared.
For an adult, the ideal BMI should be 23 and if it exceeds 30, you are considered obese. On the other hand, we cannot compare a wrestler or a sportsperson with someone of normal body type based on BMI. Just because their BMI is high, we cannot put sportspersons in the category of being fat. They are actually fit because they have a good amount of muscle in their body but not visceral fat. It is this fat which affects the human body badly.
Those who do not appear overweight suffer from ‘metabolic obesity’ which leads to greater risk of major heart diseases.
MAKE THE CHANGEWhat matters today is controlled diet and the right amount of exercise to avoid unwanted fat settling down in the organs that affect our health. Regular exercise and body movement will help avoid diabetes, excess cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
It is important to burn off internal fat by doing regular exercise or by even improving our diet. (Image: Thinkstock)
Clean organs can support a healthy metabolic system, which starts with a healthy diet. Raw vegetables, salads, plant-based and nutrient-rich diet will keep visceral fat at bay. It’s not easy to stick to a low-carbohydrate diet as part of your regular routine, but it is important to avoid packaged food and processed sugar which trigger various deadly diseases.
Stress is considered a negative element that triggers fat gain since it stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which is referred to as the stress hormone. To reduce such fat, one must engage in enjoyable activities like yoga or meditation, which help in relieving stress.
Another major cause of increase in body fat is smoking, which results in storing large amounts of fat around the vital organs. While smoking, people tend to lose weight since nicotine lowers glucose production in the body.
However, not many realise that later these fats accumulate around the liver, lungs, heart and stomach.
Changing your lifestyle for the long term is the key to losing your belly fat. Thin Outside Fat Inside could be a silent killer. Therefore, watching your weight alone might not be a good idea to ensure good health. Getting regular checkups could help one in having an overall understanding about his/her wellbeing. As obvious as it may sound, it is important to maintain a good lifestyle coupled with a healthy diet to stay healthy and fit.