Body Fat and the Ratchet Diet

People email or phone me and say, “Hans, I am sick of being fat! How can I lose some fat?”

Usually I stop the conversation there and tell them that before we start talking about losing fat, we need to discuss the different types of fat.     And having done that, we can then move the discussion onto which of the two fats we want to lose most.

But before we move on with this discussion, a reminder that this post talks about the fat stored on our bodies, not the fat we eat.   Lets leave that topic to another post.

First why do we even have fat?   Scientists believe that our fat has two main purposes.  Firstly to store our excess calories and secondly to secrete hormones that control your metabolic processes.


There are two main types of fat stored in the human body.   These are brown fat and white fat.

The brown fat that helps keep us warm by generating body heat.   Usually skinny people have more brown fat than obese or overweight people.  This category of fat is of little interest to us fat folks wanting to lose weight, so lets move on.

The white fat is the gooey sticky stuff that most people think of when we discuss body fat. The twin purposes of the white fat cells are storing energy and secreting hormones for our  metabolism.

As you get fatter these white fat cells get bigger, until they get so big that your body stops producing adequate levels of the hormone adiponectin.   This is the hormone that is  responsible for insulin sensitivity.    As we have mentioned in other posts, messing with your insulin sensitivity leads to insulin resistance and that then puts you at risk of  diabetes and other diseases.

We can further sub-divide the white fats into two sub-classes, subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.

The subcutaneous fat is the sort of fat that is found directly under your skin. This is the blubber that we measure using skin-fold calipers estimate total body fat. This fat is mainly stored in your thighs and buttocks and many experts believe that this is the lest dangerous fat. But its not all good. Newer findings are leading some researchers to now believe that subcutaneous fat cells on the belly may be a risk factor. There is discussion that a big belly can pose danger not only in the deep visceral fat but also with the subcutaneous fat.

The other fat is the visceral fat. This visceral fat also known as deep fat, wraps itself around your inner organs causing lots of problems for your health.

How would you find out if you have this dangerous visceral fat? Here’s a clue. Do you have a large waist or belly. In Australia we would say do you have a fat gut. If you have a fat gut then you have visceral fat, pure and simple, end of story!

But even our skinny friends can have it. It is possible for people who look slim and healthy to actually have large and dangerous amounts of internal fat wrapped around their organs. The only way of detecting this sort of fat is to get an MRI body scan done. The good news for us fatties is that we don’t need an MRI scan, we just need to look in a mirror to know that we have this fat.

Why should we be concerned about visceral fat? Well, having this fat wrapped around your vital organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas is going to drive up your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, not to mention dementia.

The problems with the visceral fat start when with its role in building insulin resistance. That leads to diabetes and from there its all downhill.

How much belly fat is too much? A rule of thumb is that if you’re a woman, your waist should be no more than 35 inches (89 centimetres) in diameter, and if you’re a man, it should be no more than 40 inches (101 centimetres) in diameter. If your measurements are larger than this, you need to take action urgently because you are probably at risk of succumbing to several illnesses, some of them fatal.

Of course those waist estimates are VERY rough and will vary based upon your ethnic background and you body frame. A more reliable measurement is the Waist to Height Ratio. This is easy to estimate, just divide you waist diameter by your height and you have your Waist to Height Ratio. As another general rule of thumb, you should aim to be at 0.5 for this ratio.

Another way of setting a target for getting the dangerous visceral belly fat down is to try to get you body closer to the ideal shapes that have stood the test of time.   These are the V-shaped body for men and the hour glass body shape for women.    These body shapes rate very highly with people of the opposite gender, because they represent an ideal state of health and well-being, which is what people are looking for when choosing who to mate with.

Ideal body shape for a man

Ideal body shape for a man

And for a woman:

Ideal body shape for a woman

Ideal body shape for a woman

The two people featured in those images probably have very little to fear from either their visceral or subcutaneous fat deposits.

And just in case you are still not convinced about the dangers of visceral fats, check this video out. Just watching this video is all the motivation that I need to lose weight by whatever means possible.

And there is more here.

So for a fat person wanting to reduce their risks from the scary dangerous visceral fat, particularly the stuff that’s stored in their belly, the advice is:   Start your diet TODAY.  Preferably a diet that actually works like …..   The Ratchet Diet.




  1. Hans Ratzenburger
    Hans Ratzenburger

    Sounds a familiar story. Watch out for a post I will be doing soon on techniques to boost willpower and self-discipline for dieting or any other activity.

  2. Oh my, my waist was 46 inches at my heaviest. I did get it down to 42 but it’s not back at 44, so need to get back on it before it all gets undone.

    I get so angry at myself because I’m my own worst enemy, I know what to do, I understand all the science behind it and yet my will power and other obligations allow me to undo my own hard work.

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