Not all fat is made equal. It is worth knowing what kind of fat you have to understand how you’ll keep it off. Below is a comprehensive guide to fat to help you on your way to weight loss or optimal health.
Definition: Essential fats are what you need for maintaining optimal health. These fats are necessary for regulating vitamin and mineral absorption, body temperature, and also for fertility hormones. The key to note here is that essential fats are neither visceral nor subcutaneous.
Weight loss considerations: It is impossible to reduce essential fat in your body without drastically affecting your health. For optimal health, you need at least 10% of your weight to include essential fat. Also, remember that maintaining good health is still critical even as you lose weight.
Definition: White fat is the primary type of fat and is what many people refer to when talking about fat. White adipocytes store triglycerides fat, and they provide cushioning to organs. They also act as a massive energy reserve and also help in producing various hormones like leptin.
Weight loss considerations: Even though some of the white fat is necessary for good health, higher levels may cause leptin resistance. High leptin levels caused by white fat can result in a high appetite. The ideal white fat percentage is around 18% to 23%, while 30% means overweight.
Definition: Brown fat or brown adipose tissue (BAT) will typically burn, rather than store energy. Brown fat gets its colour and energy-burning features from tightly filled mitochondria which generate heat by burning fatty acids.
Weight loss considerations: Recent studies show that putting your body in a cool environment for a week or more can increase the activity of brown fat. However, this cooling effect isn’t widely researched, so don’t go out of your way to create an environment to activate the brown fat.
Definition: Beige fat works and looks like the cross of brown and white fat. White fat can turn into beige fat and make you much leaner. That is because you will have to burn fat white fat to generate heat and make beige fat.
Weight loss considerations: Various studies show that the hormones released when a person is cold or stressed can help enhance the process of converting white fat into the healthier beige fat. Exercise is a highly beneficial stressor in this regard.
Definition: Subcutaneous fat refers to the fat layer found directly below the skin. Most of the fat, up to 90%, in the body is subcutaneous fat.
Weight loss considerations: A simple way to measure the level of subcutaneous fat in your body is to do the skin-fold examination. A professional uses callipers to pinch your skin. To lower the levels of subcutaneous fat, you must reduce your intake of empty calories and refined carbohydrates, while regularly performing high-intensity workouts.
Definition: Visceral fat, commonly called belly fat, is stored in your abdominal cavity region and surrounds various organs like the heart, liver, intestines, and pancreas. High amounts of visceral fat are associated with diabetes, colorectal cancer, dementia, and various other illnesses.
Weight loss considerations: A practical way to measure your visceral fat is to measure your waist circumference. If it is above 35 inches, then that waist circumference points to high or abnormal amounts of visceral fat.
Visceral fat is also more sensitive to processed foods and their adverse inflammatory effects. Evidence also suggests that eating unrefined foods, whole grains, protein, fibre, and unsaturated essential fatty acids can help to lower levels of visceral fat. Also, getting enough sleep and strength training, rather than cardio, will help reduce belly fat.