Contrary to popular belief, not all fat is created equal. Fat is distributed differently depending on body shape and type of fat. Fat distribution also acts as a vital predictor for disease.
There are two types of fat, visceral fat which surrounds organs and subcutaneous fat, which lies beneath the skin.
Subcutaneous fat makes up approximately 80% of all body fat.
Gluteofemoral fat (butt fat), which is clinically measured by thigh circumference and hip circumference is considered less dangerous than belly fat. It takes more time to accumulate and has proven health benefits. Lower body fat cleans up fatty acids and traps harmful fatty particles. There is also some research suggesting that lower body fat protects the body against heart disease, diabetes and obesity related conditions.
Belly fat, often referred to as “heart-attack fat” is the most dangerous area to have fat on the body because it surrounds your internal organs. Belly fat isn’t dormant fat either, unlike butt fat it is metabolically active, pumping fatty acids into the body and clogging up arteries. Belly fat also creates insulin-resisting hormones capable of causing type-2 diabetes and secreting estrogen, posing a risk of breast cancer in post-menopause women.
The Pear and the Apple
The common “pear shape” figure is well known for storing fat in the lower part of the body. Women with a pear shape often have very slim waists but balloon out at the hips. Where men are concerned, lower body fat isn’t so much of a common problem, yet belly fat and breast tissue are. Men tend to have an apple shape, and as such it is imperative that men keep an eye on calorie intake from belly boosting foods such as fast food and beer.
Unfortunately, we don’t have much control, if any at all, over where our body stores fat. In fact it comes down to shape, which is predetermined by our DNA. Unburned calories will settle where your body is pre-programmed to store them. However, don’t go blaming your parents just yet, exercise and a regular healthy diet will keep fat at bay and promote a longer life.
Targeting Fat Through Exercise
Fat tends to disappear first where it most recently accumulated, although this isn’t always the case. Spot targeting fat is a myth as fat comes off in layers rather than from specific places in the body. No matter how much you target a specific area of your body you will not decrease the fat in just one area.
In fact, you may annoyingly see fat come off in an area you don’t care so much about losing weight in. Studies have shown that exercise targets more subcutaneous fat whereas diet alone targets visceral fat. This explains why people often lose weight with often little noticeable change. The only way to burn fat is to exercise regularly and let the body shed fat in its natural format. In addition to this, aid the fat burning process by eating plenty of fiber.