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Cosmetic Fat versus Evil Fat | Functional Medicine, Functional Nutrition, Nutrition Consultancy, Advanced Laboratory Testing, Corporate Health Plans.

Cosmetic Fat versus Evil Fat

Cosmetic  Fat  vs Evil  Fat:

Understanding and Measuring Visceral Fat

(excerpt from The Four Hour Body)


Think fat is just a pinch on the skin? Think again. The above MRI of a 250-pound woman, compared to a 120-pound woman, shows the large fat deposits around internal organs. The undigested food is a reader-gagging bonus.


Ever wonder how some people, especially older men, can have beer bellies that seem tight as a drum? Distended abdomens that seem like muscle if you poke them? The answer is, to put it bluntly, disgusting: rather than fat under the skin, it’s fat around internal organs that presses the abdominal wall out.

One big issue with skinfolds and ultrasound is that they can only directly measure subcutaneous fat (under the skin) and not what’s called visceral fat (around the organs).

This article explains a low-tech method for estimating the latter, which is particularly important for those over 25% bodyfat or middle-age or older. (In Maev Creaven Nutrition we measure visceral fat, body fat, muscle mass, hydration and more).


The following was contributed by Michael Eades MD and Mary Dan Eades MD.

Recent research has given us a new measurement that found its genesis in CT scan technology. The measurement is called the sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD), and it’s been shown in studies to be one of the best clinical correlates of visceral fat and a good predictor of health risks, including the risk of sudden death in men, even those of normal weight.

Fortunately, we can easily get a handle on what’s inside.


Measuring Your SAD

In the research lab, scientists use a device called a slide beam abdominal caliper to measure the SAD of their subjects. You can make your own homemade version of the device by using a pair of yardsticks or 18-inch rulers. It’s helpful, though not required, to have a second person assist you in making the measurement.


Here is the process:

Lie on the floor on your back, knees drawn up, with feet flat on the floor.

Lay one yardstick or ruler across your abdomen at what appears to be the widest point between the bottom tip of your breastbone and your belly button.

Stand the other yardstick or ruler on end beside your abdomen, with the 0” end on the floor and in a position where the ruler can abut the end of the level ruler laid across your abdomen.

Read the height measurement (in inches) where the bottom of the ruler lying across your abdomen hits the vertical ruler.

This number is your Lying SAD (L-SAD).


Now stand up against a wall, with your heels far enough from the wall that you can press your lower back flat against the wall. Do not suck in your abdomen. Relax normally.

Place one ruler with its 0” end against the wall at your side at the new widest point of your abdomen between the tip of your breast bone and your belly button.

Place the other ruler flat across your abdomen at about that same level.

Try to hold the rulers in place gently, without pressure.

Read the number on the ruler at your side, where the ruler across your abdomen meets it. Try to keep the two rulers perpendicular to each other to get a more accurate reading.

This number is your Standing SAD (S-SAD); record it next to your L-SAD.


The greater the difference between your standing and lying SAD measurements, the more likely it is that most of the middle-body fat is subcutaneous (SAT) fat—i.e., mainly stored in the outer tube. The closer the two readings are, the more likely it is–with the exception of athletes and the extra-lean–that there is a significant amount of visceral (middle-body) fat stored in and around the vital organs within the abdominal cavity. This is the fat most dangerous to your health.

The good news is that, on the right dietary scheme, middle-body fat, which is much more metabolically active, can disappear very, very quickly.

One paper from the British Journal of Radiology shows just how quickly. The authors used MRI imaging to measure the liver fat of 10 people starting a low-carb diet who had excess liver (visceral) fat. Five of the subjects lost significant amounts of liver fat in just three days after correcting their diets. All of the subjects lost significant amounts of fat from their livers within 10 days.

Visceral fat is unforgiving, and far more sinister than a little extra on the waist. It can kill you.