Understanding the Different Types of Fat Tissue In Your Body

Embarking on a journey toward better health and wellness involves understanding the intricate workings of our bodies, particularly when it comes to fat tissue. In this comprehensive blog, we will delve deep into the world of fat tissue, exploring its various types, functions, distributions, and implications for overall health. By gaining a thorough understanding of the different types of body fat, readers will be equipped with valuable knowledge to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

What are the Different Types of Fat Tissue:

What is the difference between brown fat and white fat and yellow fat (also called beige fat)? 

White Fat:

White fat, also known as adipose tissue, is the most common type of fat found in the human body. It serves as a crucial energy reserve, storing excess calories in the form of triglycerides. White fat is primarily located beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat) and around internal organs (visceral fat). While subcutaneous fat provides insulation and cushioning, excessive visceral fat has been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Illustration depicting the contrast between subcutaneous fat and visceral fat on a male client's body.

Pro tip Subcutaneous fat responds 3x slower to diet and exercise than visceral fat. When considering weight loss and targeting specific types of fat, focusing on the deeper visceral fat provides the most impact. Luckily, there are nonsurgical treatments such as CoolSculpting to address stubborn subcutaneous fat that is not responding to healthy diet and exercise when weight loss is not the goal.

Brown Fat:

Brown fat, unlike white fat, is metabolically active and generates heat through a process called thermogenesis. Of the types of fat, this type is abundant in newborns and hibernating mammals, where it plays a vital role in maintaining body temperature. Brown fat is primarily located in the neck, upper back, and around vital organs. Activation of brown fat has been associated with increased calorie burning and improved metabolic health, making it a potential target for combating obesity and related metabolic disorders.

Pro tip: Activation of brown fat can help increase caloric expenditure in day-to-day activities. Brown fat is less common in adults than in newborns but has similar properties and roles as beige fat for adults.

Beige Fat:

Beige fat, also known as brite (brown-in-white) or beige-in-white fat, shares characteristics of both white and brown fat. It is typically found interspersed within white fat depots and can be induced to exhibit thermogenic properties, similar to brown fat. Beige fat activation can occur in response to cold exposure, exercise, or certain dietary factors, leading to increased energy expenditure and improved metabolic health.

Pro tip: Studies have shown that cold exposure can activate brown and beige fat, which is one of the many reasons we’re seeing an increase in cold plunge popularity.

What are the Different Types of Fat Storage in the Body?

Fat storage in the body is a dynamic process regulated by various factors, including genetics, hormones, diet, and physical activity levels. Understanding how fat is stored provides insights into strategies for managing weight and promoting overall health. So, where is fat stored? And how is fat stored in the body? The answer differs based on the different types of fat we carry. 

Subcutaneous Fat:

Subcutaneous fat is located beneath the skin and serves as a protective cushioning and insulation for the body. It is the predominant type of fat in most individuals and plays a crucial role in maintaining body temperature and protecting organs from mechanical damage. Subcutaneous fat can be stubborn and is slower to respond to diet and exercise.

Visceral Fat:

Visceral fat, also known as intra-abdominal fat, surrounds vital organs such as the liver, pancreas, and intestines. Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat is metabolically active and secretes inflammatory substances that can contribute to insulin resistance, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. Reducing visceral fat through lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise is essential for improving metabolic health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

What is the Role of Fat in the Body?

Beyond its role as an energy reserve, fat plays diverse roles in the body, including hormone regulation, insulation, and protection of vital organs.

Hormone Regulation:

Fat tissue produces hormones known as adipokines, which regulate various physiological processes, including appetite, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. Adipokines such as leptin and adiponectin play crucial roles in energy balance and glucose homeostasis.

Insulation and Protection:

Subcutaneous fat provides insulation against temperature fluctuations and serves as a protective cushion for organs, bones, and joints. In addition to its structural role, fat tissue also acts as a reservoir for fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, which is essential for bone health and immune function.

CoolSculpting Tip: CoolSculpting treatments permanently kill 20-25% of the treated tissue, per session, on a bell curve with some clients responding more or less to each treatment. Since there is still remaining subcutaneous fat left behind, treatments show no significant impact on levels, based on peer-reviewed publications from the manufacturers.

Differences Between Brown, White, and Beige Fat:

Understanding the distinctions between brown, white, and beige fat sheds light on their unique characteristics and potential implications for health and metabolism.

Brown Fat:

Brown fat is characterized by its high mitochondrial content and expression of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1), which enables it to dissipate energy as heat through thermogenesis. Brown fat activation can occur in response to cold exposure, exercise, or certain dietary factors, leading to increased calorie burning and improved metabolic health.

White Fat:

White fat, on the other hand, serves primarily as an energy reserve, storing excess calories in the form of triglycerides. While white fat is essential for energy storage and insulation, excessive accumulation of white fat, particularly visceral fat, can increase the risk of obesity-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Beige Fat:

Beige fat, also known as brite or brown-in-white fat, shares characteristics of both white and brown fat. It is typically found interspersed within white fat depots and can be induced to exhibit thermogenic properties similar to brown fat. Beige fat activation can occur in response to cold exposure, exercise, or certain dietary factors, making it a potential target for promoting metabolic health and combating obesity.

CoolSculpting and Targeting Subcutaneous Fat:

CoolSculpting is a revolutionary non-invasive procedure designed to target and eliminate stubborn pockets of subcutaneous fat in specific areas of the body. Learn more about the parts of the body you can treat with CoolSculpting right here. 

Using advanced cooling technology, CoolSculpting selectively freezes fat cells without harming surrounding tissues, providing a safe and effective solution for reducing unwanted fat.

One of the key reasons CoolSculpting specifically targets subcutaneous fat is due to the temperatures used during treatment. The cooling panels applied to the skin reach temperatures low enough to freeze fat cells but are not cold enough to penetrate the muscle wall and reach deeper visceral fat deposits that lie below the muscle wall. This precision ensures that only the targeted fat cells are affected, while surrounding structures remain unharmed.

While some may wonder why CoolSculpting doesn’t target visceral fat, the same mechanism that makes CoolSculpting safe is what prevents it from affecting visceral fat. By focusing exclusively on subcutaneous fat, CoolSculpting minimizes the risk of complications and ensures a comfortable and controlled treatment experience for patients.

CoolSculpting is tailored to individual body shapes and treatment goals, offering customizable treatment plans to address specific areas of concern. Whether targeting stubborn belly fat, love handles, or thigh bulges, CoolSculpting provides a versatile solution for achieving a slimmer, more sculpted physique without surgery or downtime.

Who is a good candidate? Is there a Body Mass Index cutoff for CoolSculpting?

Those who benefit most from treatment are at or near their ideal weight, have stubborn areas of diet and exercise resistant fat, and want to contour their body in a specific area. Usually, candidates are between 18.5-30 for BMI, but restrictions vary depending on the clients goal and anatomy, along with the expertise of the provider.

Infographic illustrating the ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) range for CoolSculpting candidates.

CoolSculpting vs. Weight Loss:

It’s essential to distinguish between weight loss and CoolSculpting, as they target fat reduction through different mechanisms. While weight loss involves reducing overall body weight through diet, exercise, or medical interventions, CoolSculpting specifically targets localized pockets of stubborn fat that may be resistant to traditional weight loss methods. 

Unlike weight loss, which can result in a reduction in both fat and muscle mass, CoolSculpting selectively targets fat cells without affecting surrounding tissues. This precision allows for targeted fat reduction in specific areas of the body, resulting in a more sculpted and contoured appearance.

Infographic comparing fat cell size and quantity before and after weight loss and CoolSculpting treatments.

(*NIBC stands for Noninvasive Body Contouring, also called CoolSculpting)

Consider CoolSculpting a safe and effective way to spot treat and reduce stubborn areas, but not reduce overall body mass. CoolSculpting body fat for weight loss is not an ideal choice – while some clients do use an investment in treatment as a catalyst for change and weight loss, it is much better to invest in CoolSculpting alongside a medical weight loss treatment if the primary goal is weight loss. 

Find Out if CoolSculpting is Right For You

Determine if you’re a candidate, discuss the different types of fat tissue, how fat is stored in the body, and its roles at a complimentary consultation with our dedicated CoolSculpting providers. Unlike other practices, CoolSculpting is our only focus, and we’re dedicated to understanding the intricacies of fat in the body and how to deliver exceptional outcomes to our clients in the most convenient and safe ways. 

Understanding the different types of fat tissue in the body is essential for promoting optimal health and well-being. From white and brown fat to the dynamic process of fat storage and metabolism, delving into the complexities of fat tissue provides valuable insights into strategies for managing weight, improving metabolic health, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. 

With innovative approaches like CoolSculpting, individuals can embark on their journey toward a healthier, more sculpted physique with confidence and convenience.

Ready to learn more about targeting specific areas of the body with CoolSculpting? Explore our CoolSculpting treatment areas and discover how you can achieve your desired results with Element Body Lab.

Learn more about the parts of the body you can treat with CoolSculpting

Ready to get started in Dallas, Texas? The first step is a consultation with us.