Although weight loss is the primary goal for a lot of clients and is independently associated with mortality, cardiovascular disease risk, type 2 diabetes risk and many more morbidities, it is important to consider the health benefits that exercise brings irrespective of weight loss. As 24% of “healthy” weight individuals are considered metabolically obese and 51% of overweight adults are “metabolically normal” (Zhuang et. Al, 2015), we should put much more weight on our lifestyles and less emphasis on the number on the scale.
One of the largest contributors of maintaining overall health is reducing the amount of fat around your organs, called visceral fat. Commonly dubbed “dangerous fat”, visceral fat is a 2x better indicator of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a 4x better indicator of developing metabolic syndrome (poor control of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose) compared to looking at body weight alone (Fabbrini et Al, 2009).
Thankfully, the most dangerous fat may also be the simplest to lose. Several studies show that even modest intensity exercise, for >240 minutes per week, specifically targets the fat around your organs. That’s ~ 35 minutes per day. This evidence holds true even when overall weight loss is not achieved and losing weight through diet + exercise does not result in greater visceral fat loss than exercise alone.
Next time you step on the scale, berate yourself for slipping up on your diet or you are unhappy with what you see in the mirror remember that changes in weight are simply 1 piece to a much larger puzzle and work sustained effort in the gym will always pay off for other health benefits.
- Wang, B., Zhuang, R., Luo, X., Yin, L., Pang, C., Feng, T., . . . Hu, D. (2015). Prevalence of Metabolically Healthy Obese and Metabolically Obese but Normal Weight in Adults Worldwide: A Meta-Analysis. Hormone and Metabolic Research, 47(11), 839-845. doi:10.1055/s-0035-1559767
- Fabbrini, E., Magkos, F., Mohammed, B.S., Pietka, T., Abumrad, N.A., Patterson, B.W., Okunade, A., Klein, S. (2009). Intrahepatic fat, not visceral fat, is linked with metabolic complications of obesity, 106 (36), 15430 – 15435. doi:10.1073/pnas.090494106
Written By Mitchell Hooper