Fat is one of the three main macronutrients, along with the other two: carbohydrates and proteins. The body uses fat as a fuel source, and fat is the main storage form of energy in the body.
Fat is an essential part of our diet and nutrition, and we cannot live without it. Our bodies require small amounts of “good fat” to function and prevent diseases.
The problem with our modern eating habits is that we tend to take in much more fats, specifically unhealthy fats, than our body needs. This leads to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin resistance and heart disease.
Fat is the type of tissue that is most abundant in the human body. The average adult has 40 billion fat cells. Girls are born with more fat cells than boys.
By the time you’re a teenager, you’ll probably have all the fat cells you’ll ever have. Fat grows when existing cells increase and when new cells are created. The number of fat cells in your body can increase, but can never decrease. Even when you lose weight, fat cells are not destroyed – they only become smaller.
Fat cells can die, but your body almost immediately produces the same number of cells to take the dead cells.
Fat cells are larger in people who are overweight. There are two types of fat cells: white and brown.
The main purpose of white fat is that it is an energy source and that it insulates the body. White fat is the type of fat cell that gathers on typical “problem areas” such as your thighs or stomach and which, in numbers contrary to your BMI, pose serious health risks.
The purpose of brown fat is to burn calories to generate heat. Therefore, brown fat is often called the “good” fat, as it helps us to burn calories, not store them. Brown fat is abundant in newborn babies and those with normal weight and blood sugar levels.
It is important to understand the role, composition and functions of fat to help make healthier choices.