What are fat cells? Essentially they are the basic building blocks of fat tissue. Fat (or adipose) tissue is found throughout the body beneath the skin, muscles and around the internal organs.

Anatomy of a fat cell

There are three different types of fat cells in the body: White, brown, and beige. 


Fat cells can be stored in three ways as: 

  • Essential fat
  • Subcutaneous fat
  • Visceral fat

Essential fat is necessary for a healthy, functional body.

Subcutaneous fat makes up most of our body fat and is found under the skin.

Visceral body fat, also known as ‘hidden’ fat, is fat stored deep inside the belly, wrapped around the organs, including the liver and intestines. It makes up about one-tenth of all the fat stored in the body.

As we all know, some types of fat can have a negative effect on your health and contribute to disease. Others are beneficial and necessary for your health. Each type of fat serves a different role. Some promoting a healthy metabolism and hormone levels, while others contribute to life-threatening diseases, including

  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer

White Fat

This is the type of fat that most people immediately bring to mind. Made up of large, white cells that are stored under the skin or around the organs in the belly, arms, buttocks, and thighs, these fat cells are the body’s way of storing energy for later use.

Some white fat is necessary for good health but too much white fat is very harmful. Healthy body fat percentages range from person to person depending on your level of fitness or physical activity.

Beige Fat

Beige (or brite) fat is a relatively new area of research. These fat cells function somewhere between brown and white fat cells. Similarly to brown fat, beige cells can help burn fat rather than store it. It is believed that certain hormones and enzymes released when you are stressed, cold, or exercising can help convert white fat into beige fat.

Adipose tissue, or fat, is an anatomical term for loose connective tissue composed of adipocytes embedded in a mesh of collagen fibres. Its main role is to store energy in the form of fat, which is lipids and triglycerides. Fat also cushions and insulates the body. Adipose tissue is primarily located beneath the skin but is also found around internal organs. Lying three layers deep under the skin. 

Brown Fat

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) or brown fat makes up the adipose organ together with white adipose tissue (or white fat). Brown adipose tissue is found in almost all mammals. Classification of brown fat refers to two distinct cell populations with similar functions. Brown fat is a type of fat primarily found in babies, although adults do still retain a very small amount of brown fat, typically in the neck and shoulders. This type of fat burns fatty acids to keep you warm. Researchers are interested in finding ways to stimulate the activity of brown fat to help prevent obesity.