Just because it is called a fat cell does not mean it is making you fat. Everyone has two types of fat cells, or adipocytes (adip=fat, cyte=cell) in their body–white fat cells and brown fat cells. Each of these types serves a different purpose in your body.
Brown Fat Cells Versus White Fat Cells
White fat cells typically are found in areas like your butt, thighs, stomach, arms, and chest/breasts. The function of white fat cells is to store energy as well as regulate our hormones. White fat cells provide the largest energy reserve in the body. They serve as a thermal insulator and cushion for our internal organs, as well as a cushion to protect us from our external environments. White fat cells aren’t as metabolically active as brown fat cells, which is why they get their nasty reputation.
Brown fat cells, on the other hand, are typically found in areas around the collarbone and neck. The function of brown fat cells is to heat the body. Brown fat cells are derived from muscle tissue and are found primarily in hibernating animals and newborns. However, adults with more brown fat cells tend to be younger, slender, and have normal blood sugar levels.
But really when it comes down the amount of fat and where we store our fat cells depends on things like genetics, stress, medication, environment, diet, exercise, age and the environments in which we live in. A lot of the specifics of fat placement is dependent a lot on hormonal levels within your body.
How you can Regulate White Fat Cells and Brown Fat Cells
Our bodies can produce more of both types of fat cells. You have probably picked up on by now that it is the brown fat cells that we welcome more of to keep more slender and healthy. One way you can produce more brown fat cells by exercising. Exercising can convert those nasty white fat cells into a more metabolically active brown fat cell.
Bring on all the brown fat cells!
Our bodies can produce more white fat cells too by consuming too many calories and expending too few calories. This does not mean we don’t want white fat cells altogether. It just means we want to keep our white fat cell count in check. White fat cells are very important to our survival. It is just a matter of how many white fat cells we have and where they are located on our bodies. If you are a woman keeping your waist circumference to less than 35 inches is a good rule of thumb, and if you are a male then less than 40 inches.
What is the most interesting is that new studies are showing that keeping your white fat cells tamed is even more critical than ever because they are finding that an access in white fat cells can actually hinder the ability of brown fat cells to function properly–aka they can’t burn calories.
The takeaway here is to optimize your brown fat function and manage your white fat count by eating whole foods, staying active, practice ways to relieve stress.