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577: Can Visceral Fat Affect Your Joint Pain? (And What To Do About It)

Do you feel getting older is kind of challenging and your body’s achier than it used to be? You stretch, but the morning still welcomes you with tightness and achiness in your joints.

In today’s episode, Ted is going to tackle a topic that’s crucial for our understanding of pain management and overall health: the link between visceral fat and joint pain.

He will break down for you a scientific study called “Visceral adiposity is associated with pain, but not structural osteoarthritis,” that is shedding light on a hidden aspect of our health that often goes unnoticed.

He will talk about the surprising link between visceral fat and joint pain, the mechanisms behind this connection, and the potential impact on your overall health

He will also share evidence-backed strategies to address visceral fat, lifestyle changes that can positively influence joint health, and much more. Listen now to gain valuable insights into managing pain, optimizing your health, and taking proactive steps toward a vibrant and pain-free life!


You’ll learn:

  • Understanding visceral fat
  • A hidden aspect of our health that often goes unnoticed
  • The hidden reason behind your joint pain
  • Understanding the deeper impacts of our lifestyle choices on our health
  • Effective strategies to lose belly fat
  • Is there anything that really works for joint pain?
  • And much more…


Related Episodes:  

How To Stay Lean, Strong And Pain-Free After 40 with Dr. John Rusin 

How To Supercharge Your Fat Loss In 2024 (While Enjoying Your Favorite Foods) with Ted Ryce 

How To Fix Low Back Pain Naturally (Without Drugs or Surgery) with Dr. Chad Waterbury 


Links Mentioned:

Join The Unstoppable After 40 Newsletter

Learn More About The Unstoppable After 40 Coaching Program

Schedule a 15-Minute Strategy Call with Me!

Watch My Body Breakthrough Masterclass  

Connect with Ted on X and Instagram


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Podcast Transcription: Can Visceral Fat Affect Your Joint Pain? (And What To Do About It)

Ted Ryce: Do you feel it kind of sucks getting older and your body's more achy than it used to be, and you stretch, but it just seems like when you wake up in the morning, you're still tight, you're still achy? Well, in today's episode, I'm going to be talking about how your belly fat can be making your joints hurt. And if your BS detector just went off, or if you just rolled your eyes and thought, no, there's no way that can be true, you're going to want to stay tuned because what we're going to do is we're going to dive into a study linking what's called visceral adiposity to joint pain.

So, what is up, my friend? Welcome to the Legendary Life podcast. I'm your host, Ted Rice, health expert and coach to executives, entrepreneurs, and other high-achieving professionals. Struggling with speaking English this morning, probably because I'm in Mexico. Buenos dias.

And we produce this show for two reasons. Number one, I've been in the business for 24 years, and that means I've made a lot of mistakes. I followed a lot of roads, followed a lot of people, let's say, who led me down roads, dead-end roads where I didn't get the results that they promised. And I was super frustrated. And you know who I blamed? I blamed myself. Instead of them.

And I want to save you from going down those roads, save you the trouble. And the second reason is if you are an executive entrepreneur, a high performer, and you're looking for a coach to fast track your success so that you have the health that you want in addition to the career, business, and relationships that you currently have, then you'll know who to hire.

So, let's dive into it today. We're going to be tackling a topic that's crucial for understanding the aches and pains that so many people feel as they get older. Specifically, the link between visceral fat and joint pain.

And the study that we're going to be talking about today is visceral adiposity is associated with pain but not structural osteoarthritis. And that title is really important.

And I'm going to get into the importance of it when we talk about pain but not structural osteoarthritis because that distinction is critical. And to start things off, I remember having a client, Dana, great client, still in touch with her today. She was one of my clients; her and her husband, Jerry, were clients in Miami Beach, Florida.

And I remember helping her; now I haven't talked a lot about my history of personal training. But I made a name for myself as the guy who helped people with joint aches and pains. I was the guy who you could trust to get you in shape, despite whatever injuries or medical issues you had. And, um, my client, she had a lot of issues. She had breast cancer, she had other issues. And she also had a lot of joint pain.

And I remember her telling me she ended up getting a double knee replacement, but I remember her telling me when she went to the doctor. That she was complaining of being in a lot of pain. And the doctor told her, listen, we've done an MRI. There's not a lot of damage in your knees. So, it doesn't make sense that you're in so much pain. And I don't want to get in. I don't want to open up the big can of worms that is pain science, but this is part of it.

This link between visceral fat and pain because one of the issues that I recognize now that I didn't know then is visceral fat is a huge problem or a huge cause of why people feel so terrible today. So first off, let's talk about visceral fat. So, this isn't just any fat. Visceral fat is the kind that wraps around your internal organs. It's hidden deep within your abdomen.

So, if you, if you pinch your skin, let's say on your legs, you can feel your skin and hopefully, you can feel your muscles underneath.

So in between your skin and your muscles is subcutaneous fat. And even if you pinch your stomach, you can feel your skin, you can feel the abdominal wall. Again, hopefully, you don't have to push too deep and you can feel the abdominal wall, the abdominal muscles. And so in between that is your subcutaneous fat. And guess what?

Not that big of a deal, it turns out. But let's say, keep pinching, as long as you're not driving or doing a bench press or running on the treadmill. Let's say you feel your abdominal wall and you feel the muscles and you feel like there's something underneath it.

Well, that's your visceral fat. If you've ever seen someone who looks like they swallowed a basketball and they're not pregnant.

That's visceral fat. And there's a lot of ways of detecting it. You can get a DEXA scan. Just make sure that it also does the place where you're getting a DEXA scan also does testing for visceral fat. But the easiest way is just taking your waist measurement.

And if you're greater than 37 inches and you're a man, and I believe it's 34 inches and a woman, you've got some work to do because visceral fat is more insidious and it's more dangerous.

And it's been linked to various health issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. In fact, one of the biggest issues today that goes under-diagnosed is fatty liver or what people are calling non-alcoholic fatty liver or metabolic-associated fatty liver is one of the new or is the proposed newer term.

And not only is this visceral fat connected to heart disease, type two diabetes, certain cancers, but it's also connected to joint pain. And this is really important because the research indicates that while visceral fat might contribute to pain in the joints, it doesn't necessarily lead to arthritis.

So, this crucial distinction is important because you might be in pain and you might say, oh, it's my arthritis acting up, but it may not be that. It may not be because the joints are damaged. It could be caused by the inflammatory chemicals being released by visceral fat; important stuff here.

Visceral fat does a bunch of things. Visceral fat, I'll use the example of fatty liver. What they believe happens is you have some fat inside your cells, inside your muscle cells, and inside your cells. Again, we'll take the liver. Eventually, as you eat more and more calories and you're living a sedentary life, by the way, saturated fat and sugars, so added sugars are connected to an increase in visceral fat.

If you're overeating, if you're eating too many calories. And there's also some nutrient deficiencies like choline and vitamin E that are also connected to, let's say, the growth of visceral fat.

So, what happens is, as fat starts to accumulate more and more in your cells, it starts to release—you probably have heard of antioxidants. Well, what do antioxidants do? They help with the free radicals or reactive oxygen species. Well, you get more of those because the fat in your cells is disrupting the mitochondria.

On top of that, it also causes an increase in inflammatory chemicals like tumor necrosis factor, alpha interleukin six bunch of others that are hard to pronounce, hard to remember. The point is that low-grade inflammation is connected to worse pain. And let's say that you already have some arthritis. You have some arthritis. Like me, you've done a lot of exercise.

And you're in a lot of pain now; you were in better shape and in less pain, but you're in more pain now. And you think it's just the arthritis. However, it looks like you swallowed a basketball or half a basketball. Right? Well, it may not be arthritis. It's just this low-grade inflammation.

Now there are other things that are connected with pain too, stress and sleep. But if you have a belly here, just understand one of the best things that you can do is get rid of your belly. If you want to feel better with your joints. So how do you do that?

Well, the best thing that you can do is to get into a calorie deficit. And there have been studies looking into, okay, do low-carb diets work better for visceral fat loss or low-fat diets? Does it matter? It doesn't seem to matter. So, whatever you want to do, get into a calorie deficit.

How do you know you're in a calorie deficit? You're losing body fat. That's going to show up either in a DEXA scan or it'll also show up on the scale. People say bad things about the scale, but it's actually, I use it in my coaching program. And if you know how to use it properly and you coach your clients, if you're coached on how to do it properly, it works just fine.

So, understand that is the most crucial thing that you can do. In fact, one of the things that happens to my clients when they first joined my program, I put them on a rapid fat loss program, rapid fat loss plan, and they end up losing 10 pounds in the first four weeks. That's my goal. Sometimes we don't hit it, but we lose 10 pounds on average, sometimes we hit up to 15, sometimes it's five, but around 10 is the average, and that's what we're shooting for.

And guess what? Aches and pains get better. And while my clients typically think, well, I'm carrying around less weight, and so it's less weight, less physical stress on my back and my knees, etc., which is true, it's also this lowering in inflammation that happens.

So, lose fat, that's why it's such an important thing. Got to lose fat. The next is regular exercise. So, incorporating both strength training and cardiovascular exercise is key to burning off visceral fat. In fact, we know that even if you didn't do the diet, and if you just exercise more, visceral fat comes off fast.

In fact, when I told you I've got a client who lost around 15 pounds in six weeks, really fast to lose that amount of weight, but if you looked at him, he was carrying all his weight around his abdomen and the guy, it comes off quickly. And even if you don't get yourself into a calorie deficit, if you just start exercising more, you can get rid of visceral fat. You probably will notice a difference in your waistline.

Now, the third thing you want to do is manage your stress. You've probably heard, oh, the connection between cortisol and belly fat. Well, there is a connection there. I want to be clear about this because if you're really stressed, because you live in a third-world country and can't find enough food to eat, and the economy is in shambles, that's not going to make you fat. Okay.

But in the modern world where we are in developed countries, where we're overfed, we don't move enough and we have plenty of access to not just food but also these hyper-palatable foods or ultra-processed foods, whatever you want to call them high-stress levels are linked to belly fat. But again, only if you're eating too many calories. Another thing is adequate sleep. So insufficient sleep is linked to an increase in visceral fat.

So, make sure you're sleeping at least six hours and really seven or eight is better. I can hardly ever sleep eight hours, but I shoot for seven hours. I got five and a half last night.

But in general, I'm getting six and a half, seven, sometimes seven and a half hours. So again, just to recap those actionable steps, get into a calorie deficit, doesn't matter if you're low carb, low fat, get into a calorie deficit. How do you know? Well, either your body fat measurements are changing because you did a DEXA scan in body or Bob pod or the weight's going down.

Second is regular exercise. It's better to do both strength training and cardiovascular exercise to burn off this oral fat, just do one day of strength training one day of cardio, and your cardio can be even 20-30-40 minutes of walking outside doesn't need to be anything too crazy just get moving more could be even just shooting for 7000 steps per day.

And stress management managing your stress get a massage, take up meditation download headspace or insight time or waking up or 10% happier. Go on a vacation, spend more time in nature.

And for adequate sleep. I don't need to remind you dark, cold and quiet is what your bedroom needs to be. Make sure you get up and wake up at the same time more or less and really just get an Oura ring or a whoop to track your sleep if you have sleep issues. That's the best advice I can give you.

So, in conclusion here, this is just another study that underscores the importance of looking beyond the surface and understanding the deeper impacts of our lifestyle choices on our health. It's not just about weight loss. It's not just about looking better, which, hey, I want to look better, but it's about reducing that internal fat to improve our quality of life and reduce pain. It's one of the first things you should do.

When people tell me they're having issues with pain and their shoulder hurts, I want to know what their workout looks like if they're overdoing it. And I want to know how big their belly is.

So, as we continue on our health and fitness journey, let's remember the importance of holistic health. You got to take care of both what you can see and what you can't. And that's where the science comes in.

That's where using the data to make informed decisions and to link things that maybe aren't intuitive. If your knee hurts, you're going to think, well, something's wrong with my knee when there may be something wrong with your knee, but the fact that you're feeling so much pain, like my client did, and then the doctor did an MRI and said, you know what? I don't see that much damage. Your knee shouldn't be hurting like this.

Now you can start to understand. I've got a belly. Let's try to lose that. See if it makes a difference. So that's what I'm here for you. That's why I'm here for you. So, stay strong, stay informed. And as always, stay legendary.

Hope you enjoyed this today. And make sure you ask yourself, what can I do that's actionable? What can I take out of listening to today's episode and put into action in my life? That's the question that I want to leave you with. Hope you have a great week and I'll speak to you soon.

Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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