When talking about body fat, you likely lament those areas of excess cellular collection — such as your saddlebags, belly pooch and side-boob areas. This overage can be annoying when it comes to physique goals, and excessive amounts of fat are hazardous to your health. But not all body fat is bad news, and you are host to a spectrum of adipose tissues, including white, brown and beige varieties. And while having too much of certain kinds can increase your risk for disease, other kinds have the exact opposite effect.
FAT — WAT FAT?
First things first: Body fat and dietary fat are not the same thing. “Dietary fat is a calorie-dense macronutrient found in food, while body fat is [energy] stored in the human body,” explains Corey Phelps, an NASM-certified personal trainer and nutritional expert. Healthy dietary fat comes from foods such as olive oil, avocado and nuts, and it assists with a host of metabolic functions, including metabolism, nutrient transport, and hormone creation and regulation.
Body fat, for the most part, is the physical manifestation of stored energy — extra ingested calories that the body did not have an immediate use for at the time of their consumption and that are now in holding cells (literally) until it’s time to burn them off. This kind of fat is called white adipose tissue, or WAT, and is what composes that cringe-worthy subcutaneous bulge you see in high-def when trying on a body-hugging garment. WAT contains fewer mitochondria — the brown, calorie-burning powerhouses of cells — making the tissue appear white.
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September - October 2019