Myths about Body Fat

fat-suitBody fat is incredibly misunderstood; I am still struggling to fully comprehend how harmful it is when it accumulates in excess within our bodies. Most of my life, I believed that body fat is mostly what we see at the surface of and in the folds of our skin. I first learned about internal body fat through the Weight of the Nation documentary. More recently, I also heard about a new study that found that fat does not regulate our body temperature to the extent that was once believed.

Myth #1: Body fat is mostly at the surface of our skin

Body fat is not just what we see at the surface of our skin. Fat stores are actually accumulated throughout our entire bodies. This is what clogs people’s arteries, which in turn makes it harder for blood to circulate resulting in overdeveloped arterial muscles that are inefficient. The first installment of the Weight of the Nation documentary does a great job explaining the process and showing organs with excess fatty tissues, compared to normal organs.

Myth #2: Body fat can help keep you warm

Scientists used to believe that brown fat, a type of body fat, was entirely responsible for keeping us warm. However, this fatty tissue is now believed to play only a minor part in regulating our temperature.

Our muscles are actually more beneficial to regulating body temperature. There are two ways in which science shows that our muscles regulate it. It’s not completely understood by scientists yet, but a recently discovered muscle protein called scarlopin is believed to help our bodies regulate temperature.[1] The other way that muscles help keep us warm is through shivering, which are contractions in our muscles that generate heat.

Body fat slows down processes in our bodies. It percolates into all of our organs through our bloodstream, and will eventually cause serious health issues if it continues to accumulate. That said, even athletes have between 15 to 20% body fat so nobody will have none. But even the few positive things I used to think some extra body fat does for our bodies are turning out to be myths so its best to get active and burn off the excess.

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