Fat has gotten a bad rap. We all want to get rid of every single last ounce of it and work hard dieting and exercising to fight that flab. But not all kinds of fat are created equally. Brown fat is actually really good for us and helps to burn white fat cells and keeps us warm. White fat stores calories for use when we are low on energy and it releases hormones into our bloodstream that regulate metabolism. It’s the visceral and subcutaneous fat that deserves the negative image; causing disease and dementia and reducing your life expectancy.
Brown fat is where it’s at
“Fat has more functions in the body than we thought,” says Rachel Whitmer, research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California. In particular brown fat is what you really want. Kids have way more brown fat than adults which keeps them warm and helps them to burn calories at such a phenomenal rate.
We have relatively little brown fat (only 2 or 3 ounces of brown fat for every 30 pounds of white fat), but this is the stuff skinny dreams are made of. When that two or three ounces of fat are stimulated, they burn off a whopping 300-500 calories a day.
This can pose a possible solution for obesity and doctors are working on a pill (of course) which helps to boost the amount of brown fat in the body, but they warn that this won’t take the place of healthy eating and exercise.
White fat is kind of important
White fat cells are far more abundant than brown fat cells and play an important role in the regulation of hormones in the bloodstream and the storing of calories. White fat cells release the hormone diponectin which encourages sensitivity to insulin in the liver and muscles, making us less susceptible to diabetes and heart disease.
White fat cells are only able to release hormones and function optimally when you are at a healthy weight. The release of hormones by white fat cells slows down or stops completely when people become obese.
This is the stuff that lives just under the skin and sticks to your thighs and butt, but doesn’t pose a major problem to your health. When subcutaneous fat forms in the stomach that may contribute to a number of health issues when it becomes visceral fat. This is the deep-tissue fat that wraps itself around your organs.
Visceral fat releases a different set of hormones that create inflammation in the body. Visceral fat increases your resistance to insulin and thereby increases your risk of diabetes, hypertension, liver disease, cancer, heart disease and even dementia.
How do you know if you have visceral fat? If you are a women with a waist greater than 35 inches or 40 inches for men, you are at a greater risk for metabolic diseases and dementia.
Ultimate fat busters
There is just is no substitute for exercise and healthy eating. When you diet, you lose mostly white fat cells and crash diets can negatively affect the ability of white fat cells to regulate your hormones. But when you combine healthy eating and exercise, you are getting to that visceral fat and reducing your health risks significantly. Stick to a healthy diet made of whole foods, sprouted grains and healthy snacks that aren’t processed and are free of added sugars.