Fat Differences: Types of Fat and How to Manage It

measuring waistline

We all want to lose weight, look good, and be healthy. But the idea of getting rid of body fat can seem like an overwhelming task. You’ve probably tried lots of diets before, but nothing seems to work for you.

One of the reasons is there are many types of fat, and methods of dealing with them can vary.

What Are the Different Types of Fat?

Body fat refers to fat cells which are stored in the body. They come in different forms:

1. Subcutaneous Fat

Subcutaneous fat can be found just below the skin. It is also called “the pinchable stuff” because it is the jiggle you see when pinching an area of your body such as your thighs, midsection, and arms. Subcutaneous fat functions to store energy in times of excess calorie intake and insulate the body against the cold.

2. Visible Body Fat

Visible body fat is referred to as just that, the fat that shows on your body when you wear fitted or tight clothing. Visible body fat is also called intramuscular adipose tissue (IMAT), and it can be more dangerous than subcutaneous fat because it creates the illusion of a much larger figure and makes you look heavier than you really are. This is because visible body fat lies directly under the skin, giving it a bumpy appearance; whereas subcutaneous fat lies below the visible fat and has a smoother appearance.

3. Subfascial Fat

Subfascial fat lies deep within muscle groups and sometimes even deeper under the visible body fat. The location of subfascial fat makes it very hard to get rid of through diet and exercise alone. Subfascial fat is very metabolically active, meaning that it requires calories to survive. It also prevents you from getting toned muscles by creating puffy areas between muscle groups.

4. Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is the most dangerous type of fat. It lies deep within muscle groups and around your organs, unlike subfascial fat which lies just under the skin. Visceral fat does not only cause a larger appearance by creating a “muffin top” but can also increase your chances of developing health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer. If you have a lot of visceral fat, it is recommended that you lose weight.

5. Brown Fat

Brown fat actually has a brown tint because it is filled with iron, which gives it its color. It helps to raise your body temperature when you are cold by burning calories to create heat. Brown fat was previously thought to only be found in babies, but studies have proved that adults do have small amounts of it as well.

6. Subcutaneous White Fat

You can tell that subcutaneous white fat is different than other types of fat because it sits directly below the skin and provides a smooth appearance. It also insulates your body against the cold, but its main purpose is to store energy in times of excess calorie intake.

How Do You Get Rid of Fat?

If you want the quickest way, you can always reach out to a cosmetic surgeon who can perform fat reduction. This can be a non-surgical process that involves melting the fat and allowing the body to naturally dispose of it as waste. But it is equally essential to understand how the body metabolizes fat.

Fat is burned through a process called lipolysis. Lipolysis occurs when there is a prolonged period of calorie restriction and little to no carbohydrate intake, allowing the body’s glycogen stores to be depleted.

Glycogen is very important for fueling physical activity, so its depletion signals the liver to convert fat into ketones so that energy can be produced. This process is called ketosis, which can be seen through testing for high levels of blood or urine ketones.

There are three ways that your body burns fat:

  • with oxygen via oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria of cells
  • with glucose in the absence of oxygen by a process called anaerobic glycolysis
  • without glucose (or with very little glucose), such as during starvation

The goal is to create more lipolysis than lipogenesis. Lipogenesis, meaning the process by which your body makes fat, occurs when there are excess carbohydrate or protein calories in the diet.

After you have successfully depleted your glycogen stores with intense exercise and limited carbohydrate intake for a period of time, usually 24-72 hours, your body will begin to burn fat as its primary source of energy.

To best decrease the visible appearance of existing fat, you want to lose weight slowly and steadily by creating a calorie deficit of 10-20%. To do this, you must first find out how many calories it takes for your body to function at rest (called basal metabolic rate or BMR), which is the minimum number of calories you need to consume to survive. This number is based on many factors including height, weight, age and gender.

Once you have determined your BMR, subtract 500-1,000 calories per day to create a calorie deficit and lose about one pound of fat per week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories; 1 pound fat = 3,500 cal).

However, instead of focusing on losing weight quickly through fad diets and exercises, focus on increasing your basal metabolic rate by increasing lean muscle mass through resistance training. When you have more lean muscle mass, your body will burn more calories at rest because these muscles are active even when you are sleeping or watching TV.

Fat is good for your body, but it can be bad when you have too much of it. Understanding the different types of fat, how you can get rid of it and why you want to lose weight will help simplify your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

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