Our bodies are complex machines that have many different parts that work together to make things function smoothly. No matter what type of body you have, fat is a necessary part of our body’s function. In fact, it has several benefits for health–but what are the different types of body fat?

Body fat stores excess calories as triglycerides, which can be used for energy when food intake is insufficient. This stored energy helps to maintain normal bodily functions and sustains us during times of reduced calorie intake, such as between meals or during periods of increased physical activity.

Fat tissue plays a role in the production and regulation of hormones. It produces hormones such as leptin, which helps regulate appetite, and adiponectin, which is involved in insulin sensitivity and metabolic health. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are stored in fat tissue, making them readily available when needed for various bodily functions, including bone health, immune function, and blood clotting.

It’s important to note that while some body fat is beneficial, excessive body fat can lead to health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disorders. Maintaining a healthy balance of body fat through proper diet and exercise is key to reaping the benefits of body fat while minimizing the risks associated with excess fat.

Different Types of Body Fat

The ideal level of body fat can vary depending on factors like age, gender, and individual health goals. Here is some more information on the types of body fat and how you can control these to live a healthier lifestyle.

  • Brown Fat
  • White Fat
  • Subcutaneous
  • Visceral
  • Belly Fat

Brown Fat

Brown fat was previously thought of as having very little worth. On the contrary, it does have one primary, and very important, function: keeping people warm. Brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue (BAT), is a type of specialized fat tissue found in mammals, including humans. It’s distinct from the more common white adipose tissue (WAT) in its structure and function.

Brown fat is named for its brown color, which is due to its high density of mitochondria and blood vessels. The primary function of brown fat is to generate heat through a process called thermogenesis. Brown fat cells contain a unique protein that dissipates energy in the form of heat rather than storing it as fat. This heat production is vital for maintaining body temperature, especially in infants and in response to cold exposure.

Children usually have more brown fat than adults and it was initially developed in response to body temperature regulation. In addition, recent studies have shown that lean individuals usually have more brown fat than overweight people, and when brown fat is stimulated, it can burn calories quickly.

White Fat

White fat, also known as white adipose tissue (WAT), is the most common type of fat found in the human body. Unlike brown fat, which is specialized for heat production, this essential fat primarily serves to store energy and produce hormones that are released into the bloodstream.

Small cells in this fat produce a hormone called adiponectin in the body that makes muscles and the liver sensitive to insulin, which makes people less susceptible to developing heart disease or diabetes.

Balancing white fat through a healthy diet and regular physical activity is essential for healthy body weight and overall health. Reducing excess white fat, particularly around the abdominal area, can have significant benefits in terms of reducing the risk of metabolic disorders and improving overall well-being.

Different Types of Body Fat: Subcutaneous

This is the fat that is found right under the skin and is used to provide insulation, cushioning, and energy storage. Subcutaneous fat acts as a natural insulator, helping to regulate body temperature by providing a layer of warmth. This type of fat is common around the belly, thighs, and buttocks.

It also serves as a protective cushion, reducing the risk of injury to underlying muscles and organs. Subcutaneous fat stores excess calories in the form of triglycerides, which can be utilized by the body during times of increased energy demand or reduced calorie intake.

While certain amounts of subcutaneous fat is essential for these functions and contributes to the body’s overall shape and contour, an excess accumulation of it, especially in certain areas, can lead to obesity-related health issues. Therefore, maintaining a healthy balance of subcutaneous fat is important for both bodily functions and overall health.

Visceral fat

This is the kind of dangerous fat that can wrap itself around the inside of the organs and cause significant health problems. If you have a large waist or stomach, this visceral fat can increase your chances of developing dementia, stroke, diabetes, or heart disease. It also plays a key role in insulin resistance, which could cause an increase in developing diabetes.

Visceral fat is metabolically active and plays a significant role in regulating metabolic functions. It releases various substances known as adipokines, which can influence insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and lipid metabolism. Excessive visceral fat is strongly associated with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

It can be more challenging to target and lose through diet and exercise alone compared to subcutaneous fat. However, reducing overall body fat through a combination of a balanced diet and regular physical activity can help decrease visceral fat over time. Excess visceral fat is a major concern, and efforts to reduce it can yield substantial health benefits, particularly in terms of metabolic health and disease prevention.

Overweight man with a measuring tape around his stomach to illustrate different types of body fatBelly Fat

This is generally unhealthy fat that is made up of visceral and subcutaneous fat. Women who have a waist larger than 35 inches and men who have a waist circumference that is more than 40 inches have a higher risk of diabetes, stroke, or heart disease. Belly fat tends to accumulate in the abdominal region due to factors such as genetics, diet, physical activity, and hormonal changes.

While spot reduction (losing fat from a specific area) is not generally effective, adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management can help reduce overall body fat, including belly fat. Incorporating both cardiovascular exercise and strength training can be particularly beneficial for fat loss and improving metabolic health.

Belly fat is a specific type of fat that accumulates in the abdominal region. Excess belly fat, especially visceral fat, can have detrimental effects on metabolic health and is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases. Reducing belly fat through a combination of a healthy diet and regular physical activity is essential for overall well-being.

How Can These Different Types of Body Fat Be Controlled?

Fat is a normal part of the body and everyone needs it. However, fat in excess will become a problem. It’s a fact that too much fat can be associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease and other chronic health conditions. There are a variety of ways you can manage a healthy body fat percentage, which we will cover here.

Reduce your liquid caloric intake: When you’re drinking high-sugar drinks with little to no nutrients, you are increasing your liquid caloric intake. These kinds of drinks make your blood sugar skyrocket, then crash fast, which makes you crave more sugar.

Eat smaller, more frequent meals: Smaller, lighter meals can be helpful in keeping excess body fat at bay. For example, don’t eat a full meal packed with calories at 8 o’clock at night. Instead, have a smaller meal earlier in the day and if you’re hungry for a snack, munch on a handful of fresh green vegetables.

Drink enough water: We have all heard the importance of drinking enough water during the day. But did you know that drinking a glass of water with your meals can not only help keep you hydrated and will help bolster your metabolism? That one simple change to your meal routines can make a big difference!

Keep moving: You don’t have to commit to being in the gym seven days a week. However, you do need to come up with a plan to stay active on a regular basis. Start slowly and build your way up to exercising five times a week. Whether it’s jogging, biking, walking, or working one-on-one with a personal trainer, staying active is a very important part of keeping body fat from settling in and losing weight.

For those who have tried traditional weight-loss tactics and have worked hard to eat well and are still morbidly obese, weight loss surgery can help. It can be especially helpful when combined with a regular exercise program and a healthy eating plan. To learn more about treatment options for obesity, watch our FREE online seminar and then reach out to us at WeightWise.

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