Say the word “fat” and most of us throw our hands up in defeat. You’ve heard the benefits of a low fat diet immediately followed by claims that the average American doesn’t eat enough heart-healthy fats. The facts on fat—navigating what type is good for you and what type of steer clear of, and what type ends up giggling on your thighs—is just downright confounding.
That’s why we’re giving you the skinny on fat right now…
1. There are Many Types of Body Fat
Body fat isn’t all created equal. For instance, every individual body is made up of various types of fat—including brown, white, subcutaneous, visceral, and belly fat.
- White fat stores our energy and secrets hormones (i.e., adiponectin, for insulin sensitivity and protection from heart disease and diabetes), it’s also the fat we tend to burn with diet changes and exercise.
- Brown fat, or muscle-like fat, which burns calories and white fat when stimulated by healthy diet and exercise, and keeps us warm.
- Subcutaneous fat that lies directly under our skin and is used to measure body fat (with skin-fold calipers), and a type of fat, when in excess, leads to the spare tire, or belly fat.
- Visceral fat, or deep fat, can develop around organs (i.e., fatty liver) and contribute to belly fat, impacts insulin resistance, and puts us at risk for diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
- Belly fat is made up of subcutaneous and visceral fat.