About Fat

Understanding Fat and How to Control It

Why Do We Have Fat?

Fat, or adipose tissue, is an essential part of the human body. Fat insulates us from the cold, regulates our body’s temperature, stores vital energy, and protects our delicate tissues and internal organs.

The medical term for body fat is adipose tissue, and its energy-storing cells are known as adipocytes. Water is also present in these fat cells, although in significantly smaller percentages than in other types of cells in the body.

Where Does It Come From?

Your body processes and absorbs the fat, sugar, and protein present in your food shortly after you’ve eaten it, absorbing vital nutrients through the lining of your small intestine and into the bloodstream. Much of what you consume can be converted to energy and immediately delivered to the necessary organs and tissues, but any extra calories ultimately turn into fat.

It is important to realize that fat does not come only from fatty foods. Any excess calories, whether protein, carbohydrate, or sugar, can end up as fat.

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Why Do I Gain Weight In One Place, But Not In Another?

Different people gain weight in different places, and where you gain weight is actually determined by your inherited genetic code. However, while most women tend to put on fat around the hips, thighs, and buttocks, men are more likely to pack on the pounds around their waists.

How Much Fat Is Too Fat?

Fat is a healthy, natural part of our diets, but too much fat can be a potential health risk. The National Institutes of Health states that a healthy body fat percentage is 20-21% for women and 13-17% for men. This is significantly less than the actual average among men and women — 17-19% for men and 22-25% for women.

Obesity is even further up the scale. For a woman to be considered “obese,” she must have a body fat percentage of 30% or more. Men qualify as obese at 25% body fat. Having a body fat percentage under the recommended levels is also considered potentially unhealthy.

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