Did you know there are different types of body fat? Probably not!
Most people think that fat is the same around the body. They assume all fat is bad and want to lose it in any way they can. But all fat isn’t bad.
Body fat is like any other body organ, and it has specific functions. It stores calories and helps regulate body temperatures and hormones. But some types of body fat contribute to life-threatening diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
It’s good to understand all the different types of fat in the body, especially when you’re trying to lose weight or practice healthy living. They include:
1. Essential Fat
This is the type of body fat that your body needs to survive. It has various functions, including regulating body temperature, absorbing vitamins, and regulating hormones. It’s found in many parts of the body such as the bone marrow, nerve membranes, and pockets around body organs.
When losing weight, it’s important not to lose too much of this type of fat. For example, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, women need about 10 to 13 percent of their total weight to be essential fat. Shedding more than this percentage of the essential body fat will compromise your health.
Most female athletes put themselves through extreme exercising and dieting, resulting in essential fat percentages that are as low as 6 to 10 percent.
2. White Fat
This is the type of fat that comes to mind when most people think of body fats. As its name suggests, it’s white because it has few mitochondria and blood vessels. White fat is plenty and serves as the primary backup energy source.
The fat is stored under the skin. It’s also distributed around organs in the belly, thighs, arms, and buttocks. It serves as a protective layer for the body’s organs and also has receptors for hormones such as insulin, leptin, growth hormone, and cortisol.
Although white fat is necessary for the above functions, too much of it can lead to excessive weight gain. How much white fat you should have depends on your level of fitness. According to the American Council on Exercise, non-athlete males and females should have a body white fat percentage of around 14 to 24 percent and 21 to 31 percent respectively.
You can determine if you’re healthy by measuring your body fat percentage. Too much of this fat puts you in the risk of high blood pressure, pregnancy complications, and hormonal imbalances among more.
3. Brown Fat
This is one of the types of body fat that’s classified as ‘good’ fat. It provides cells with energy and feeds on white fat, hence keeping the levels of dangerous fat down and subsequently your weight.
Brown fat is also known as brown adipose tissue and is commonly found in the neck and chest areas. Its brown color is as a result of a dense concentration of mitochondria. The mitochondria burn fatty acids to produce heat and regulate body temperature.
Brown fat levels are said to be high in babies. Research indicates that it’s possible to burn more calories from white fat when you increase the levels of brown fat in your body.
You can do this by eating a healthy diet, taking some supplements, and making significant lifestyle changes. Activities such as exposing your body to freezing temperatures also stimulate the conversion of white fat to brown fat.
According to a study by Harvard, staying in a room or region with temperatures of around 60 degrees for ten days straight will accelerate your brown fat activity. In recent years, researchers have embarked on finding how to stimulate brown fat activity to control obesity.
4. Beige Fat
Beige Fat has not been adequately studied because it’s still a new area of research. They occur in tiny deposits around the collarbone and spine.
Beige fat cells are somehow a link between white and brown fat. And just like brown fat, they help in burning fat instead of storing it.
Research suggests that white fat can also be converted into beige fat. Studies believe that some hormones and enzymes produced when you’re feeling cold or stressed, or even when you exercise, can help transform white fat into beige fat.
Animal studies have shown that when mice exercise, they release the hormone irisin from their muscles, which helps convert white fat into beige. Humans also have the same hormone. Researchers believe the same thing is replicated in human beings.
5. Subcutaneous and Visceral Fats
These are two different types of body fat, with their main difference being where they are found. Subcutaneous fat is a layer of fat situated right under your skin. It’s a combination of all the major three types of fat cells. That is white, brown, and beige fat cells.
The highest percentage of your body fat is subcutaneous fat. It makes up about 90 percent of all the body fat. When you want to lose weight, the white fat in your subcutaneous fat composition is what you need to shed off.
Fitness professionals use the skin-fold test to measure the amount of subcutaneous fat in your body. The test involves using calipers to pinch your skin and determine the quantity of fat underneath.
On the other hand, visceral fat is the fat stored mostly in the abdomen area. It’s commonly referred to as “belly fat.” The fat is also found around various body organs such as the heart, pancreas, and liver.
This fat isn’t stored under the skin like the subcutaneous fat. In healthy proportions, visceral fat plays a vital role in protecting your organs and regulating body temperatures. But in excess amounts, it puts you at the risk of contracting cancer, stroke, diabetes, artery disease, and dementia.
Understand All the Different Types of Body Fat
Now that you understand the different types of body fat, it’s time to shed off the bad ones. Visit a fitness professional and have your fat percentages to body ratio measured. The professional will advise you whether you need to lose or gain some fats.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your weight management!