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Intramuscular Fat - good for Wagyu Cows not Humans

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

Intramuscular Fat is the fat that exists within muscle fibers. In beef, it is what gives it that "melt in your mouth" consistency and umami flavor. It's what you pay extra for. It's wonderful for steaks.

For humans, not so much.

Formally known as Intramuscular Adipose Tissue (IMAT), fat in our muscles is associated with greater levels of insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes, obesity, loss of muscle strength and function as well as longevity. The more IMAT the more unhealthy you are.

Why is it bad?

IMAT contributes to multiple negative pathways but here are the main ones:

1. Increases chronic inflammation.

2. Impairs your bodies glucose tolerance (how well you handle sugar).

3. Increases total cholesterol.

4. Decreases strength and mobility.

Not so fun facts

  • As we age, even if our overall fat percentage stabilizes or lowers, the location of the fat seems to migrate into the muscles and abdominal area.

  • In general, increased BMI means increased IMAT (so you may be thin but if your BMI is high, most likely so is the amount of fat in your muscles).

  • Elevated IMAT also decreases bone density.

Who is at higher risk?

  • As noted above- elderly.

  • Obese individuals.

  • Sedentary lifestyle individuals.

  • Paraplegics.

  • Post Stroke of Nervous system injury individuals.

What can you do about it?


  • Resveratrol- the purple and blue foods in the world. Grapes, cranberries, dark chocolate, red wine, blueberries.

  • Macademia nut/oil- high in palmetoleic acids that improve IMAT and also improve glucose metabolism

  • Sea Buckthorn Fruit oil- same high in pametoleic acid

  • Calorie restriction


  • Walking 1-2 times a week for as little as 30 minutes can reduce IMAT (combined with calorie restriction had greater impact)

  • Resistance exercises

  • Electrical stim of lower extremity muscles

What would a program look like?

This is what is important to know:

Any program should be at least 12 weeks long otherwise you will not get the benefits; 6 months and greater are recommended for superior results. Any combination of the above is going to help. So start sooner than later but know that it's never too late. :-)

What would I do?

To me, it's about lifestyle and the life quality I want. I don't just want to be mobile, I want to be able to play; with my kids and grandkids. So, I

  • exercise with High Intensity Interval Training at least 4-5 times a week.

  • take a bunch of supplements mostly from Standard Process/ Mediherb: OPC Synergy from Standard Process is one of them for the resveratrol, Tumeric Forte as a general anti-inflammatory, AF Betafood as a digestive bile salts and fat emulsifier so that I am digesting and absorbing the fats I eat in my diet, Tuna Omega-3, and Vitamin D. I am trying the Sea Buckthorn Fruit oil to see what that will do. . I take a bunch more but not relevant to this particular topic.

  • Meditate daily- known to reduce inflammatory processes, improve blood flow, lower stress, reduce glucose levels and improve insulin resistance.

  • Try to have fun

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