The 4 Types of Fat We All Have and How to Deal With Each

Hallie Gould
PHOTO:

Anna Kaiser × C9 Champion

The short of it:

  • There are four different types of fat, and each one should be treated differently.
  • Fluffy fat is soft and rounded. It's usually found in our stomachs, hips, thighs, and/or backs of the arms. If you're working out hard but not looking cut or toned, fluffy fat is likely to blame.
  • Fibrous fat is slightly tougher and often forms set-in rolls (like around your bra strap). The fibers that form around and between those fat cells hold it in place and make it harder for your body to use that fat for energy, so it's usually the last place your body will lose weight.
  • Cellulite happens when fat gets trapped in the bottom layers of the skin—and becomes worse as we age when our skin begins to thin. Losing weight doesn't necessarily rid your body of cellulite, as 90% of women have it.
  • Firm fat lives below the muscles, surrounding your internal organs in your abdomen. This kind of fat responds faster to lifestyle changes than others.

The long of it:

Losing weight is hard, and keeping it off is even harder. I can attest to that fact. I've tried eating like Bella Hadid for a week, J.Law's fitness plan (yes, it includes pizza), and investigating how to lose weight based on my personality type. But, through tons of research (and trial and error), I've learned fat loss is never as simple as calories in versus calories out. There are a ton of moving parts when it comes to losing weight successfully. Mitchell Chasin, MD, the founder of Reflections Center for Skin and Body, explains, "Along with diet, exercise, and any cosmetic treatments, there are managing motivation levels, building your willpower muscles, and overcoming hormonal imbalances and genetic predispositions, to name a few."

Chasin continues, "One of the topics we don't see enough conversation about is the different types of fat, and how your strategies for fat loss need to vary based on which kind of fat you're targeting." Doing so will help you choose the correct strategy—which means faster and easier fat loss, and more success when it comes to maintaining it.

Below, we delve a little deeper into each type of fat and the best ways to keep them off—for good. Whether you're interested in surgical options (no judgment), nonsurgical methods, or targeted diet and exercise, we've got you covered.

For more weight-loss information, check out the time I tried (and survived) New York's five most popular workout classes.

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