The skinny on fat: Losing belly fat serves more than just aesthetic purposes

While reducing fat does give a person a slimmer appearance, this is only a side-perk in the bigger picture of why losing fat is a good idea! Did you know that there are four different kinds of fat? They all serve a different kind of function and some are more dangerous than others.


Before we get into the different categories and the parts they play in our health, keep in mind that lipids (fats) are not bad. The two main purposes of fat are to A) store hormones and regulate metabolic functions and B) store energy.

Brown fat

This fat is the least dangerous. It is the least abundant in the body and is more abundant in children than in adults. The more ‘brown fat’ a person has, the warmer they tend to stay and the less obese they tend to be. This kind of fat burns calories.

White fat

This kind of fat is more abundant in the body than brown fat is. It releases hormones into the body. An important hormone that it releases is called adiponectin, which makes the liver and muscles sensitive to insulin, making the body less susceptible to getting diabetes. When a person gains too much weight, the levels of this hormone are lower and result in the person being more susceptible to getting diabetes. What does this have to do with female reproductive health? When there’s insulin resistance, then the result is higher levels of estrogen which harm ovary cells leading to infertility.

Subcutaneous fat

Subcutaneous means “under the skin”. This is the fat that you can grab with your fingers and the type we focus on eliminating. While not always desired, this type of fat is not very dangerous to your health when it’s around your thighs and buttock area. However, if it is around the waist, then it becomes a danger to your reproductive organs. More on this below, in our belly fat portion of this article.

Visceral fat

This is the fat that is dangerous for your health and is located deeper in the body. It wraps around your organs and makes insulin resistance skyrocket, which is harmful to your fertility and heart health.

Belly fat

Belly fat is the combination of subcutaneous fat and visceral fat around the belly.  In addition to being damaging to the ovary cells, it also puts women at risk for ovarian and pancreatic cancers.

What can I do to lose my belly fat?

The good news is that the most dangerous fats are the easiest to lose! We want to keep the brown fat, which is more difficult to get rid of. The visceral and subcutaneous fat, which are the ones that we don’t want and are used as fat stores, are easy to lose. Once you start exercising and eating a balanced diet, the fat will begin to be burned for fuel.

Your gynecologist can help ensure your organs are safe and even connect you with a nutritionist if needed. Call (631) 587-2500 to schedule an appointment with South Bay OB/GYN today.

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