the science of body fat

Since SOOO many of us spend a lot of time and energy on fitness and nutrition this weeks Flex Friday email is all about BODY FAT!  That suborn STUFF that just seams to grow in all the wrong places!  Here’s what you need to know about how fat keeps you healthy, why we gain weight and how to keep it from getting out of control.


When we eat the body likes to store some extra calories for later in little storage containers called fat cells, which was super important 1000s of years ago when food was not as easily accessible.  Thanks to desk jobs, motorized bikes, escalators, and Uber many people are not burning as many calories as they used to and we are getting overweight as a society. 

Here’s the problem.  When we accumulate too much fat the cells themselves begin to malfunction.  Fat cell help regulate the hormones that control blood sugar and hunger.   When they get too big they start sending the wrong signals.  Another problem is as fat accumulates it tends to also do so around our major organs, causing MAJOR issues.


TYPES OF FAT.  Did you know that not all fat was created equal?

White Fat: This is the majority of our fat.  This fat is our primary energy reserves.   It also produces a hormone called Adiponectin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  It also helps regulate insulin and blood sugar.  The smaller (or normal sized) cells are the better they respond to insulin and produce more of the anti-inflammatory chemicals.  The bigger the fat cell the less sensitive the cells are requiring the body to produce a LOT more insulin.    

Visceral Fat: As we accumulate fat and our subcutaneous fat cells (white fat) are full we start getting fatter around our vital organs!  NO GOOD!  This type of fat is linked to high cholesterol and heart disease and insulin resistance. 

Brown Fat: The “good fat” that burns other forms of stored fat.  Babies and children have a lot of this type of fat.  It produces a lot of our body heat.  It boosts metabolism.  Scientists have not yet found a way or link to activating or increasing brown fat in the body…. Hopefully soon!

Cellulite: The one everyone hates is actually harmless.  Its just fat cells who have grown and shrunk in size multiple times and have accumulated a kind of scar tissue around them making the rippled junk nobody wants.  Keep cellulite away by staying at a consistent weight and staying fit.

LOSING IT: Here’s the $6,000,000-dollar question! 

  1. Exercise!  Dah!  We know that.  But that’s why we have designed our “madness” a certain way.  Cross training with weights at varying intensities has been shown to be the best for building muscle and burning fat.  Long bouts of aerobic work on the heart and lungs but do little to burn body fat.  In fact, studies show that people who focus on aerobic work have a harder time staying fit then those who focus on strength training.  MUSCLE BURNS CALORIES ALL DAY! 
  • NO, YOU CAN’T CONTROL WHICH AREAS SLIM DOWN.  You can’t spot burn.  Meaning that doing 1000s of sit ups won’t give you abs.  It will make the muscles underneath the fat strong, but fat comes off the body as an entire organ not in areas.
  • YES, Eating Whole foods including complex carbs will help you lose fat.  Food rich in fiber are hard to break down taking longer to absorb.  This stimulates less insulin.  Eating carbs allows your body to be fueled to train hard.  No carbs tell the body we are starving and the body seeing that as an alarm to ACTUALLY STORE MORE FAT TEMPORARILY!
  • YES, losing weight slowly over time is best for keeping it off.  However sometime drastic times call for drastic measures.  At any point if you are carrying too much extra body fat it MUST come off any way possible.  However, it is more about what you do after it comes off that keep it off.  Maintain a healthy diet and keep training!  Don’t fall back into those old habits that got you there in the first place!
  • NOPE, NO MAGIC PILL!  Darn….The only way to beat the bulge is to eat clean most of the time and exercise as much as possible.  Add fitness wherever you can.  10mins here, 10 push ups there, take the stairs…

Although fat is the PINK ELEPHANT in the gym it is a necessary part of the human physiology.  It produces dozens of hormones that regulate a multitude of body functions.  And, as far as things stand right now the only way to beat it is to beat you ASS to the gym and clean up those diets.

Stay Strong,
Coach Joe

Check the previous post: Flex Friday #14 Round-Up Subject – Weed Killer in Our Food!