Body fat has a bad reputation. Images of beer bellies or stubborn deposits on the thighs can quickly turn fat into something most people try to exercise away. But not all fat is created equal. As science gains a greater understanding of fat and its utility, researchers have started to divide fat into different categories. The main types of body fat are subcutaneous, visceral, brown fat, and beige fat.
Each type serves a different role in the body. Subcutaneous and visceral fats are types you want to lose due to increased health risks. In contrast, brown and beige fat can be incredibly useful for your body. Curious to learn more about the different kinds of fat? Keep reading for a breakdown of subcutaneous, visceral, brown, and beige fat—and some fat loss tips to improve your health.
For people trying to lose weight and slim down, all fat might seem identical. The fat lying just under the skin is known as subcutaneous fat. It usually appears due to genetics and lifestyle factors. For example, a sedentary lifestyle, a lack of aerobic activity, insulin resistance, and consuming a caloric surplus usually leads to the presence of more subcutaneous fat.
Is subcutaneous fat bad for you? The answer might depend. This type of fat can help provide padding to protect muscles and bones. It also serves as insulation to regulate body temperature, and function as a passageway for nerves and blood vessels.
However, the presence of too much subcutaneous fat can place a person at risk for serious health conditions. These include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancers. Additionally, a high amount of subcutaneous fat usually indicates the presence of visceral fat—which surrounds organs and can lead to a host of issues.
People looking to shed subcutaneous fat usually find the most success through strenuous exercise and an optimized diet.
Burning more calories than you eat is a sound way to start losing subcutaneous fat. For example, try strength training, swimming, running, or cycling. In addition, fat-burning diets should focus on lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables while staying away from excess sugar and salt.
There are some healthy fats, but visceral fat is not one of them. Your body stores this type of fat within the abdominal cavity. Consequently, it settles close to organs like the stomach and liver. Visceral fat can also build up in the arteries and contribute towards serious health issues.
Some researchers believe that visceral fat releases a certain type of retinol-binding protein that increases resistance to insulin. Carrying excess visceral fat increases a person’s risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain types of cancer.
Visceral fat hides inside of the body. Consequently, it can be hard to see how much of this type of fat a person has. Imaging technology like MRI or CT scans remain the most accurate way to confirm the presence of visceral fat. Unfortunately, such scans are also very expensive. Most doctors will ask questions about a patient’s lifestyle and measure their waist to come up with a rough estimate as to the amount of excess visceral fat.
Ready to start losing visceral fat? Great! Changes to exercise routines and diets are an extremely effective way to make visceral fat disappear. Strive to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day to burn fat through aerobic and strength training. Optimize your workouts and get ready for the next one by consuming supplements like BCAA for recovery.
Try a bit of mindful eating. Try a healthy diet that substitutes protein and complex carbohydrates for processed and sugary foods. You may find that it goes a long way towards losing weight and visceral fat.
Scientists have been working hard to learn more about brown fat. Its main function is to transform food into body heat. You can find pockets of brown fat close to the neck, shoulders, and collarbone area.
Under the right conditions, brown fat can actually create 300 times more heat than any other tissue inside of the body. Researchers now are looking into how brown fat can be “turned on” to help fight obesity. There’s also some speculation that exercise can stimulate certain hormones that activate this type of body fat.
A 2014 study asserted brown fat becomes more active in colder temperatures. Brown fat remains the main tool for babies to stay warm, since they do not have the ability to shiver. Michael Symonds, of the University of Nottingham, suggested in 2013 that brown fat might function similarly to an “internal heating jacket.” In this way, it keeps the blood warm as it flows from colder extremities back to the heart and brain.
Brown fat is something you don’t want to lose. The government hasn’t approved any drugs to increase it inside a body. However, certain foods may help to activate brown fat.
Apples and pears both contain ursolic acid. This substance helps revitalize brown fat, while turkey breast contains an amino acid that also aids in brown fat activation. Green tea has also been shown to help brown fat burn more calories, according to a Swiss study.
Beige fat is seen as a cousin of brown fat. While the two are similar, they’re not the same thing. Beige fat comes from white fat and is much more useful to adults. While adults usually have very few brown fat deposits, beige fat cells are scattered throughout different parts of the body.
Beige fat is able to burn off calories, which has led scientists to study the fat as part of a therapeutic solution for obesity and diabetes. Beige fat activates through a process called “browning,” where it then starts to behave like brown fat.
Unlike brown fat, which only activates when the body is cold, speculation is that beige fat can start to activate through social interaction, exercise, and even mild stress. Beige fat should not be seen as a magic tool for weight loss. Instead, consider the burning process as a byproduct of a strong diet and regular exercise.
Since beige fat is usually seen in small deposits in the body, it’s not necessarily something you should want to try and eliminate. Instead, combine a strong diet with appropriate supplementation and exercise. Do this to burn away the “bad” fat while letting the beige (and brown fat) stick around. If you’re looking for an effective addition to your supplement stack, check out our Animal Cuts review.
All You Need To Know About The Different Kinds Of Fat
Don’t get intimidated by the many types of fat in the body. Not all of it is created equal, and some types, like beige or brown fat, have significant benefits to health and energy. Adhere to a good diet and exercise regularly. Sometimes the basics are the best strategies for keeping unhealthy subcutaneous and visceral fat at bay.