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Types Of Body Fat and Tricks To Understand The Differences

Regardless of the expansive utilization of the word "fat" to explain all body fat, there are literally several differing types of fat in your body.

Types of Body Fats

Some types of body fat have a negative result on your health and contribute to unwellness. Others are gainful and fundamental for your health.

Subcutaneous Fat

Subcutaneous fat is found directly underneath your skin. It can be anywhere, not just in your belly and backside but in your arms, legs, and face.

This type of fat stores energy and provides essential padding for your body. It also generates the hormone adiponectin, which helps regulate insulin production. "Paradoxically, the more fat you have, the less adiponectin you produce, which means that your body has trouble regulating insulin, increasing your risk of heart disease and diabetes," Dr. Hamdy says.

The best way to measure subcutaneous fat is to check your body fat percentage with a Body Mass Index test. A healthy range is between 20 and 25 percent for young women and up to 30 percent after age 50. You can ask your doctor to check this for you.

So, how do you get rid of the excess? Cutting calories is crucial for overall weight loss, but getting moving is necessary too. Any little burst of movement counts! Walking to and from the train, cycling, walking the dog, it all counts.

If you are already active, then ramp it up! Find ways to take your workout up a notch.

Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is found deep within the belly, where it pads the spaces around your abdominal organs. You can’t feel or grab it.

This type of fat has been dubbed "toxic fat" and for good reason. "It secretes inflammatory proteins called cytokines that affect insulin production and increases inflammation throughout the body, which raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease," Dr. Hamdy says. You cannot directly measure visceral fat unless you undergo an MRI or CT scan. The next best thing? Grab a tape measure and wind it around your waist; if your midsection is more than 35 inches, you most likely have too much visceral fat.

Blasting this off? "To mobilize visceral fat, a balanced diet is essential," says Dr. Cederquist, MD, a bariatric physician, and author of The MD Factor Diet. "Eat lean protein throughout the day, while controlling your carb and fat intake."

For keeping visceral fat off, cardio workouts are the way to go. A 2011 Duke University study found that regular aerobic exercise – the equivalent of jogging about 12 miles per week at 80 percent max heart rate – was the best workout for losing visceral fat.

Brown Fat

Brown fat is mainly around your neck, collarbone, and chest. For years researchers assumed it was present primarily in infants to keep them warm, and then gradually disappeared through childhood. But in 2009, studies revealed that some adults still have brown cells.

This "good fat" becomes metabolically active when we are exposed to cold temperatures, burning up energy. "Since brown fat is used to generate heat, it burns more calories at rest," says Ruth Loos, MD, professor of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Fifty grams (about 4 Tablespoons) of brown fat, if maximally stimulated, could burn 300 calories a day.

How do we get more of this fat? According to a study in Cell Metabolism, people who spent 10-15 minutes in temps below 60 degrees produced the hormone irisin, which appears to make white fat cells act like brown fat; they got a similar boost from an hour of moderate exercise at warmer temps. And also hunger hormones affect appetite in the body.

Ectopic Fat

This type of fat has the same metabolic properties as visceral fat, except instead of padding your abdomen, Ectopic fat settles in your heart, liver, pancreas, and muscles. This is dangerous because it is inside vital organs and can increase your risk of heart disease, liver damage, and type 2 diabetes.

You do need an MRI or CT scan to determine if you have this type of weight gain. Keep ectopic fat at bay by staying active. The more you sit, the more likely you are to have this type of fat.

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