Archive for the 'Visceral Fat' Category

The Dangers of The Female Athlete Triad

Female Athlete Triad TriangleThe Female Athlete Triad is a health concern for active females who are driven to excel in sports.  It involves three distinct and interrelated conditions:[1] energy deficiency, amenorrhea (irregular or missed menstrual cycles), and osteoporosis (weak bones) causing fractures and density irregularities1. While having just one of these components is bad enough, these conditions can often lead to a domino effect of health concerns.

tired woman runner taking a rest after running hard on city road

Women often face social and coaching pressures to stay skinny and lean for their sport, in addition to the unspoken competitiveness’ that adds pressure to be thin. This has been shown to be a major factor in the development of an eating disorder2. Eating disorders are chronic physical and psychological illnesses that require immediate attention. Anorexia and bulimia can cause death resulting from heart attack, blood electrolyte disorders, suicide, and many other conditions resulting from not eating2.

While most athletes do not fit the exact definition of an eating disorder, many follow the same habits. Binge eating and purging, starvation, and the use of diet pills will cause the person to worsen the energy deficiency condition. Participating in these deadly practices does not leave your body with enough energy to perform its normal functions, including menstruation. Any female who has missed three consecutive cycles should be evaluated immediately2. Leaving a condition like this unattended can cause infertility. It has been shown that menstruating athletes gain about 2 – 4% of bone mass per year, whereas amenorrheic athletes can lose 2% of their bone mass4. Low estrogen levels, a direct result of amenorrhea (menstrual abnormalities), can cause the deterioration of bone structure (osteoporosis)2. This comes as a direct result of lack of menses. A women in her early 20’s suffering from this condition can have a bone structure equivalent to that of a 70 year old women2.Ostheoperosis

Possibly the biggest problems physicians and specialists face when dealing with the female athlete triad is the initial diagnosis of the condition3. Ideally, screening for elements of the female athlete triad should happen at annual check ups or preparticipation screenings. It is important for female athletes to be knowledgeable about the causes and symptoms relating to the condition. Be sure to consult a primary care physician and a registered dietitian that incorporates body composition analysis into their assessment. Analyzers such as the mBCA 514 and mBCA 525 have been proven to give  precise body composition measurements that will aid healthcare professionals by providing an in-depth assessment. Parameters such a body fat, visceral adipose tissue (VAT), skeletal muscle mass and body water can be evaluated and monitored to assure that the best dietary game plan is in place.  While there may be some reluctance to seek care, it’s important to remind the athlete that medical advice and proper nutrition may enhance performance and their overall well-being.

[1]Emily Southmayd. The Female Athlete Triad. Salt Lake City: Emily Southmayd, n.d. Print.

2Annie Spencer. ACSM Information On… The Female Athlete Triad. Indianapolis: Annie Spencer, n.d. Print

3Nazem, Taraneh G., and Kathryn E. Ackerman. “The Female Athlete Triad.” Sports Health 4 July 2012: 302-11. Print.

4Gottschlich, Laura M. “Female Athlete Triad.” MedScape. Ed. Craig C. Young. WebMD LLC, 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 8 Aug. 2016.


Sick Fat and How it is Affecting You

Adiposopathy also known as “sick fat” is defined as the dysfunction of fat cells partially responsible for harmful metabolic conditions and related to obesity[1]. Basically, when fat cells become bloated during positive caloric balance, they run the risk of negatively effecting how your body functions. Adiposopathy contributes to adverse endocrine and immune responses that may promote cardiovascular disease¹.

AdiposopathyThe lack of definitive, defining pathology makes identification of adiposopathy difficult at best. People as late as the 1980’s were still apprehensive about accepting that adipocytes were more than just fat storing cells[2]. Increased amounts of body fat were not considered to contribute to metabolic disease2. It wasn’t until it was accepted that fat tissue is an active hormone and immune organ, that people saw the dangers of excess fat tissue. People often see excess visceral fat as a cosmetic issue, one that effects your ego more than your health. What they don’t realize is that excess build up of fat will cause cells to swell. This contributes to insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and dyslipidemia2. All of these conditions are directly related to metabolic disease.

If after hearing this you are doing some self-analysis and thinking,  “Oh no! What can I do to reverse the effects?!”  Fear not, there are steps you can take to repair not only your self-esteem, but your health as well. Integrating a healthy diet and daily exercise into your routine can make all the difference in the long run. It is important when doing this that you shed the fat in a healthy way. It is all-to-easy to lose weight and then realize what you have been losing is mostly water weight and muscle mass. Not only is this counter-productive, it also does not improve your health.

So how do you make sure you’re losing fat and not muscle? Start by keeping track of your healthy weight loss and body composition using seca mBCA 514 or seca mBCA 525. Look beyond a scale and obtain an in-depth look at what makes up your body and allows you to see how much fat you are shedding as well as the amount of water and muscle you have in relation to everything else. Quantify your visceral adipose tissue (VAT) in absolute values expressed in liters.  These measures make it easy to understand what you have to do to regain your health. A balanced diet, routine exercise, and monitoring your body’s composition are the best tools to defend yourself from the dangers presented by “sick fat.”

[1] Litwin, Sheldon E. “Good Fat, Bad Fat: The Increasingly Complex Interplay of Adipose Tissue and the Cardiovascular System.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 62.2 (2013): 136-37. Web.

[2] Bays, H. Curr Atheroscler Rep (2014) 16: 409. doi:10.1007/s11883-014-0409-1