Body fat is the proportion of fat to your total body weight. Fat in the body is in the form of triglycerides which are made up of free fatty acid molecules.
The human body has two types of fat, including essential and nonessential or storage fat.
- Essential body fat
Essential fat is crucial and needed by the body for normal biological and physiological functioning.
This type of fat is found in many areas around the body including bone marrow, spinal cord, the brain, muscles, cell membranes, and other vital internal organs.
The level of essential fat in men is approximately 3% of the total body weight while that of women is approximately 12% of the total body weight.
The reason why women have more essential fat is that the areas surrounding the uterus have more fat deposits.
Their breast tissue also has more fat deposits. When the essential fat level drops below the normal level, the normal biological and physiological function in the body may be compromised.
Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that that your essential fat is always at an optimal level.
- Nonessential fat
Nonessential fat, also known as storage fat is available in different forms, including subcutaneous fat that is layered below the skin and visceral fat that is found in the abdominal cavity.
Older people tend to have more visceral fat and less subcutaneous fat than younger people.
The main functions of nonessential fat include:
- To act as an energy substrate during exercise and rest
- To act as an insulator and help the body retain heat
- To act as padding against trauma
A high level of nonessential fat in the body could also contribute to life-threatening diseases such as some cancers, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes stroke, pregnancy complications for women, hormone disturbances, and heart diseases.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that you keep the level of nonessential fat in your body within the recommended level.