While scales don’t lie, they don’t tell the whole truth either.  Scales don’t tell you if you have gained muscle, if you are holding water, and most importantly they don’t tell you about the fat.   


The most important part of starting any nutrition and exercise plan is to look at your overall body composition. Your body composition tells you how much of your body is made up of fat and how much of it is muscle. This gives a much better picture of your overall health, and might tell you that you’re in better shape than you think!                                                                                                                                   

For example, a poor diet and lack of calories can lead to weight loss. However, losing muscle and water will also contribute to this. A healthy and nutritious diet combined with an exercise plan will ensure that you are losing fat, rather than shrinking your muscle. Overall you will be fitter, healthier and feel much better.


First off, there’s essential body fat. It plays a significant role in overall health and it is essential for survival.  Present in organs, bone marrow, nerve cells, and the brain, essential body fat helps:  Have sufficient energy reserves by acting as a metabolic fuel: Conserve body heat by acting as an insulator, Protect your internal organs and joints by acting as soft, fluffy cushion etc. NONESSENTIAL or STORAGE FAT is fat that accumulates as energy reserves.

STORAGE FAT itself can be further divided into two: subcutaneous and visceral. Although they’re both components of storage fat, they’re quite different from each other. They are literally different and  function independently from each other.

Deposited underneath the skin, subcutaneous fat is fat that you can see, touch, and pinch. Because it’s visible and impacts body shape, this is the type of fat that typically motivates people to improve their body composition.

The second, more dangerous type of body fat is visceral fat. It is invisible to the eye and comfortably sits between the abdominal organs. Visceral fat is recognized as a worse health threat than subcutaneous fat. In fact, it’s considered a strong , independent predictor of all-cause  morbidity and mortality.

And then there’s metabolic obesity. It happens when individuals have too much visceral fat (regardless of  whether a person is  lean or obese), increasing their risk for developing conditions like cardiovascular disease .

What is the mechanism behind visceral fat’s role as a health threat?  We’ll discuss this next time.

In Health,

Dr. Dawit Mengistu