body fat testing composition in denver

Body Fat: Understanding Types of Body Fat


We have fat spread throughout our body, but there is much more to body fat. Our body fat can be broken down in various ways so we have a better understanding of how to distinguish and manage your body fat.


Body fat consists of essential body fat and storage fat. Essential body fat is critical to normal body function. It’s is found in the nerve tissues, bone marrow, brain, and organs (all membranes). As essential fats, we cannot lose this fat without compromising physiological function. It plays a significant role in overall health and as its name implies, it is essential for survival.  Reproduction and fertility Normal essential fat values are pegged at 3 percent and 8 to 12 percent for men and women, respectively. The higher fat ranges in women account for female-specific fat needs due to reproductive functions.

The roles for essential body fat include:

  • Provides sufficient energy reserves
  • Body fat acts as an insulator
  • Internal organs protection

Meanwhile, nonessential or storage fat is fat that accumulates as energy reserves. Although there’s no official standard for acceptable body fat values, the acceptable ranges are 10-20 percent for males and 18-28 percent for women.  However, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has set a range of 10-22 percent in men and 20-32 percent in as they have an average percent body fat of 15% for men and 23% for women.


There is even more to understand about storage fat.  Storage fat itself can be further divided into two: subcutaneous and visceral. Although they’re both components of storage fat, they are different and function independently from each other.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat you can see, touch, and pinch as it is deposited underneath the skin. Because it’s visible and impacts body shape, this is the type of fat that typically motivates people to take action and improve their body fat composition.

The second type of storage fat is visceral fat. It is not invisible accumulates between your abdominal organs. That’s the type of fat that surrounds a number of important organs such as your liver, pancreas and intestines.  Most importantly, visceral fat is recognized as a worse health threat than subcutaneous fat. In fact, it’s considered a very strong and independent predictor of increased mortality in men.

Metabolic obesity happens when individuals accumulate too much visceral fat (regardless of whether you’re thin or obese), strongly increasing the risk for poor health, including related conditions such as heart disease.


Although genetics may influence visceral fat storage in the body. Other factors are known to increase your likelihood of increasing visceral fat accumulation. Some of these include excessive alcohol consumption, sleep deprivation and a lack of exercise, particularly inadequate aerobic (cardio) activity. Aerobic training of moderate or high intensity has the highest potential to reduce visceral fat among overweight individuals.