Understanding four types of body fat

Q: I've lost some weight, but am still unhappy with the way I look. It seems like there is still too much fat around my waist and I am not sure what to do.

A: Body fat loss involves three components, carried out on a consistent basis: Strength training for building calorie-burning muscle, cardiovascular exercise and adherence to a healthy well-balanced diet.

Take a tape measure and check your waist size. Studies show that women with a waist circumference more than 35 inches and men with a waist circumference more than 40 inches are at increased disease risk.

There are different types of fat, and, depending on your body type, you may find you have a harder time losing weight around the middle.

The most visible type of fat is subcutaneous fat, which is located just under the skin. An example are the “love handles” that men tend to have; for women, this is often noticeable in the hips and thighs. This type of fat is easy to see and to grab, as in skinfold caliper measuring.

A more dangerous type of fat is visceral fat, which lies much deeper, around the internal organs, and cannot be measured with skinfold caliper testing.

Subcutaneous fat accumulates slowly over time and can be very hard to get rid of once it is stored.

Visceral fat is very easily stored, but also easily released. When visceral fat is released into the blood stream, it can lead to problems such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, stroke and even dementia.

Brown fat is important for regulating body temperature. It is more prevalent in children, and the amount decreases as we age. Scientists continue to study its effects, and have found that lean people tend to have more brown fat than people who are overweight or obese. Unlike other types of fat, research shows that when stimulated, brown fat actually burns calories.

Much more plentiful than brown fat, white fat helps the body to regulate temperature, store energy and produce hormones that are then secreted into the bloodstream. In contrast to brown fat, white fat shows very little metabolic activity.

It is thought that insulin resistance, related to excess abdominal fat, may cause as much as 25 percent of heart disease seen in men and 60 percent of that found in women.

Exercise can prevent and treat insulin resistance syndrome, which has been associated with type II diabetes and heart disease. Research shows that a brisk 45-minute walk can lessen a diabetic’s resistance to their own insulin.

Marjie Gilliam is an International Sports Sciences Master certified personal trainer and fitness consultant. Write to her in care of the Dayton Daily News or send email to marjie@ohtrainer.com.

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