If there’s one thing you know about the fat on your body, it’s that you want it gone, right? Well, the truth is, you do want to keep some of it.. For one, it’s what gives you your sexy curves, keeps you warm, and gives you energy. In fact, one particular fat actually helps you burn calories! So, no, all fat isn’t “bad.” But…you’re right. Excess fat proves troublesome, not just in the way you look, but in how you feel, and how healthy you actually are.
Take a look below for more information on the different types of fat in your body – which ones help, and which ones hurt – and how to keep them in check.
Brown fat acts kind of like a muscle in that it helps us burn calories. In fact, its purpose is to burn calories to generate heat. When fully activated, brown fat generates 300 times more heat than any other tissue in the body. This burns both calories and white fat! Leaner adults have more brown fat than heavier people. So…this is one fat you’d want to increase, not decrease.
White fat provides the largest energy reserve in the body. It also serves as a thermal insulator and a cushion for our internal organs. Additionally, white fat produces estrogen and leptin, and has receptors for insulin, growth hormone, adrenaline, and cortisol. It’s important to our survival, but in excess it does accumulate around the hips, thighs, buttocks, breasts, and belly. The best way to reduce your white fat is to burn more calories than you consume.
Subcutaneous fat is found directly under the skin. It’s the fat you can see, the “inch you can pinch.” It’s also the fat that’s often used to measure body fat percentages, and it’s found everywhere on the body. Subcutaneous fat contains nerves as well as blood vessels, which supply the skin with oxygen. It stores energy and acts as a shock absorber, helping to cushion our skin against trauma. Subcutaneous fat is more easily reduced with exercise than with diet.
Visceral fat is hidden deep within the belly region and stored around your internal organs, including your liver, pancreas, and intestines. It is the most dangerous of the fats in your body because it can interfere with the functioning of your liver and the hormonal communication between your vital organs. High levels of visceral fat can lead to insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other harmful health conditions. The good news is that visceral fat is the easiest to burn. It responds well to regular endurance exercise. A well-balanced diet for gradual weight loss will help banish it, too.
Your belly fat is basically subcutaneous and visceral white fat. Too many calories help pile on that extra fat, and believe it or not, stress does, too. Exposure to long-term stress produces cortisol (the stress hormone) in high amounts, causing extra pounds around your mid-section. Hormonal changes and the aging process make belly fat harder to burn the older you get. Another thing that makes it so difficult to lose is that it only really responds to both diet and exercise to lose. Skinny people who diet and don’t exercise retain their visceral fat, which causes a wider waistline, and people who exercise but don’t eat a healthy diet usually retain that subcutaneous pooch. The best way to beat belly fat is with regular exercise, a consistent healthy diet, 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, and the use of stress management techniques.
Simple? Yes. Easy? No.
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