Types of Body Fat: Diets, Benefits, and Risks

Calling somebody “fat“ is, by all means, rude and impolite but there is a huge chance that people who like to insult others in this way don’t even know what “fat” means. Yes, the word can be used to refer to an obese person but its metonymy related to body fat that in itself is a broad term. There are several types of fat in our body and contrary to popular opinion, not all of them are detrimental. Some fats are immeasurably important for staying healthy and we need to intake them through food. Other fats are quite bad and pose a risk to our health so there are diets that help us get them out of our system.

The Main Types of Fat

Generally speaking, there are three types of fat: white, brown, and beige. More precisely, these are types of fat cells that serve different roles. Some can cause life-threatening diseases such as cancer or type 2 diabetes, while others help the metabolism stay healthy and they regulate hormone levels.

White Fat

This type of what is everybody’s first guess when the word “fat” is mentioned. White fat cells are large, white (who would have guessed) cells that are located right under the skin’s surface or around organs in thighs, the bottom, arms, legs, stomach, etc. Essentially, they are the body’s natural storage areas where it preserves fat for later use. In addition, white fat cells help regulate levels of hormones like estrogen, insulin, cortisol (the stress hormone), growth hormone, etc.

On average, an adult male should not have more than 25% of healthy body fat or 30% for women.  If the percentage rises above these values, CCS Lap band Sydney weight loss clinic note that the following health issues might occur: kidney disease, cancer, pregnancy problems, liver disease, stroke, high blood pressure, the aforementioned type 2 diabetes, etc.

Brown Fat

Unlike white fat that we store in nearly every part of our body, brown fat can only be found in the neck and shoulder areas. This does not come as a surprise when we take into account that this type of fat is mostly found in infants and its percentage decreases by the time we reach adulthood. Brown fat is responsible for burning acids to keep us warm. That’s why scientists are interested in researching this type of fat to help combat and ultimately prevent obesity.

Beige Fat

Beige or as it is also known brite fat cells are just now being researched in detailed. They are a transitional form between white and brown cells. They are more similar to brown cells because they don’t store fat but rather burn it. When you are stressed, cold, or while you exercise, white fat gets somehow converted to beige fat.

Body Fat Percentage

Apart from the different types of body fat, the percentage it takes in the body is also important. In order to understand body fat and body mass index in the best possible way, we need to know how body fat percentage is measured. The most common manner in which these measurements are carried out is skinfold measurement. Technicians use a special instrument that a layman would describe as tongs to pinch and fold the skin on the waist, arms, and thighs. The method is primarily used for measuring subcutaneous fat and it provides more of an estimate for the entire body, not an exact figure.

As far as other methods are concerned, Bod Pod and biomechanical impedance are some of the more reliable techniques. The latter is preferred by scientists in athletic training facilities. The test requires the athlete to stand on a device utilizes electrical current to measure the amount of lean versus fatty mass in his/her body.

What is BMI and Waist Circumference?

The body mass index, or BMI in short, is something most people have heard of but aren’t quite sure what it is. Alongside waist circumference, it is another way to estimate body fat percentage based on the height and weight of a certain individual. BMI is basically the ratio of weight to height.

On the other hand, waist circumference is measuring the narrowest part of the waist. When it comes to BMI, the sweet spot is any value up to 25. As far as waist circumference is concerned, a value lesser than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men is considered as normal.

Dieting and Fat

The most common misconception is that foods rich in fat are responsible for obesity. This is not entirely true because there are foods rich in fat that are actually good for our health. In fact, refined, processed foods, as well as food loaded with sugar, have a greater impact on being overweight than foods rich in fat.

Going on a diet requires a certain level of trust in your dietician or the program you have found online or a friend recommended it. However, as in life, knowledge is the best weapon. Knowing about all the types of fat, the risks and the benefits they have will help you adjust your diet in the best possible manner.