Home » Diet and Nutrition News & Advice » 8 Clarifying Fat Facts

8 Clarifying Fat Facts

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 blood sugar 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, and puts us at risk for diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
  • Belly fat is made up of subcutaneous and visceral fat.

2. The Purpose of Fat

Yes, you read that correctly, fat actually has a purpose—in fact, it has two distinct purposes, which doctors at the Boston Obesity and Nutrition Research Center at Boston University, have narrowed down to this:

  1. Fat cells store extra calories and take from them when you are hunger and energy deprived.
  2. Our fat cells emit a series of hormones that regulate our metabolism.

3. Waist is Equivalent to Heart Health

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic claim that you can predict an individual’s risk of heart disease by taking a peek at the circumference of their waist. For instance, a research study measured the waists of women to determine their future risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and found that those with middles in excess of 37 inches around had an 80-percent increased risk of health issues compared to those with middles less than 27-inches around.

4. Individual Fat Cell Makeup

We’ve already established that fat in our bodies comes in various types—white fat, brown fat, visceral fat, subcutaneous fat, and belly fat. However, scientists at Cornell’s Obesity Clinic, say it’s all about your individual fat cell makeup. For instance, if you have small white fat cells, you’ll produce more adiponectin, a glucose-regulating hormone. On the other hand, the larger your fat cells (or the larger your fat mass), the less adiponectin you’ll produce, putting you at risk of diabetes and heart disease.

5. Butt vs. Thigh Fat vs. Belly Fat

It’s a well debated fat that women tend to develop fat on their buttocks and thighs (pear shape) while men tend to amass fat in the belly area (spare tire). However, is one area better for fat accumulation than the others? The answer is yes, according to experts at Harvard Medical School, who claim that the most dangerous is belly fat accumulation, which raises the rate of metabolic disease (i.e., diabetes, heart attack, and stroke).

6. So, What is Healthy Fat?

When it comes to eating fats, unsaturated fats—or fats largely featured in the highly touted Mediterranean diet (one high in fatty fish, nuts, grains, olive oil, and avocadoes)—are touted as healthy by experts, including nutritionists at the Harvard School of Public Health. Keep in mind that all fat is not created equal and seek to get the majority of your fats from whole foods as opposed to processed foods to ensure you’re eating mostly fats of the saturated variety.

7. The Fat You Should Cut Out

While unsaturated fats are considered “healthy fats”—saturated fats, or the group of artificial fats found in processed foods, contribute zero nutrition to your diet. The Harvard School of Public Health links diets high in saturated fats to increased levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and thus, an increased risk of heart-related conditions and diseases.

8. Swap Saturated Fats for Unsaturated Fats

One simple way to ensure you’re getting the good fats is by swapping saturated fats in your diet (i.e., butter, bagged chips, and white bread) with unsaturated fats (i.e., apple butter, homemade baked sweet potato chips with olive oil, and whole grains). The simple swap will help you keep fats straight.


More on ActiveBeat
  • 13 Essential Nutrients for Overall Health
    We’re constantly bombarded with information about which nutrients we need to be consuming more of, and their benefits for the body.
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • Fibromyalgia Diet: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid
    Pain, fatigue, and tenderness are all common symptoms of fibromyalgia, a chronic disease that affects approximately 5 million people in the United States alone—most of whom are...
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • The Incredible Health Benefits of Sesame Seeds
    There's no doubt that sesame seeds are a tasty snack, but there's a lot more to them than that.
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • Foods That Help Burn Fat
    It's sounds like a lie, but it's true! Certain foods can actually help burn fat. There are nutrients and compounds found in some foods that help increase your metabolism, use...
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • Foods You Should Never Eat
    Food is nourishment, but the world of food can be a dangerous place if we're not conscious of what we put into our bodies.
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • Foods Proven to Burn Fat
    Maybe you already knew that particular foods contain high thermogenic effect, which essentially means they help to boost your metabolism.
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • Ministroke or TIA: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
    No stroke is good, but there are some worse than others. That's the case of a "ministroke," also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which doesn't present all of the...
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • Common Myths of Type 2 Diabetes
    Type 2 diabetes is a gruelling health condition to manage. People who suffer from this condition have to constantly keep tabs on their blood sugar, prepare a healthy diet, read...
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • Diabetes Diet: Top Offenders and Their Healthier Alternatives
    Diabetes – it's a disease that affects more than 100-million Americans (as diabetes and prediabetes), according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and...
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • Diabetes Diet Tips to Digest
    There's definitely nothing sweet about diabetes, as it can lead to a number of other health complications.
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • 10 Risk Factors for Stroke
    Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in North America.  It is a medical emergency.
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • 8 Celebrities Who Have Spoken Out About Managing Diabetes
    Diseases are no respecter of person, and celebrities certainly aren't immune to contracting, or developing diseases and ailments.
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • 10 Herbs and Spices that Fight Diabetes
    Diabetes is a rising health concern in the Western world. For those who have been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, maintaining normal blood sugar levels is both...
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • Sweet Ways to Manage Diabetes Over the Holidays
    The holiday season is a very tempting time of your to fill your mouth with empty carbohydrates and sweets, which can be unhealthy especially if you have diabetes.
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice
  • 6 Shocking Stats on Diabetes Prevalence Around the World
    Diabetes. It's a word everyone has heard, whether they have it or someone they know has it.
    Diet and Nutrition News & Advice