Fat Facts: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Fat Facts: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Brown Fat (The Good)

This fat is composed of several small lipid (fat) droplets and a large number of iron-containing mitochondria (the cell’s heat-burning engine). The iron, along with lots of tiny blood vessels, gives this fat its brownish appearance. Brown fat is usually found in the front and back of the neck and upper back.

The main purpose of brown fat is to burn calories in order to generate heat. That’s why brown fat is often referred to as the “good” fat, since it helps us burn, not store, calories. Brown fat is derived from muscle tissue. As you age the quantity of brown fat significantly decreases. Adults who have comparatively more brown fat tend to be younger and slim.

 How do I get more Brown Fat? Exercising, which also can convert white fat to a more metabolically active brown fat; getting enough high-quality sleep, as proper melatonin production influences the production of brown fat. Exposure to cold weather can also help generate brown fat.

 White Fat (The Bad & ugly)

This type of fat is composed of a single lipid droplet and has far less mitochondria and blood vessels, thus resulting in its lighter white or yellow appearance. White fat is the predominant form of fat in the body, originating from connective tissue.

White fat has many purposes. It provides the largest energy reserve in the body. It’s a thermal insulator and cushion for our internal organs. It is a major endocrine organ, producing one form of estrogen (bad for men; aromatase the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen is found most prevalently in fat cells, so the more body fat a man has, especially in the midsection, the more aromatase and hence the more estrogen.) as well as leptin, a hormone that helps regulate appetite and hunger. It’s also got receptors for insulin, growth hormone, adrenaline, and cortisol (stress hormone). So, it’s not all bad

What is bad, is what you see in the mirror. In women, excess fat accumulates around the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Men tend to pack excess fat primarily in the belly region.

An excess of white fat inside the belly is associated with an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer plus unwanted estrogen. Excess white fat throughout the rest of body is associated with an increased risk of breast, colon, esophageal, gall bladder, and pancreatic cancer. It’s also associated with sleep apnea.

Why am I getting White Fat? Consuming too many calories and not exercising or burning those calories.

Summary: White fat is not all bad. Located in the right areas it can be beneficial and necessary. But, located in the wrong areas or having too much can have serious negative impacts to your health.

New research shows that when people overeat, they not only increase their total amount of white fat, but the overconsumption results in their brown fat becoming dysfunctional and thus unable to burn calories. Eating right, regular exercise and high quality supplements can help get you looking good in the mirror and improve your health.

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