Which of the following are the two types of fat in the human body?

The two main types of fat found in the human body are adipose tissue and triglycerides. Adipose tissue, also known as body fat, refers to fat stored in adipocytes or fat cells. Triglycerides are the major form of fat found in the blood and body tissues. While both types of fat are crucial for health, having excessive levels of either can lead to weight gain and health issues.

What is Adipose Tissue?

Adipose tissue, commonly known as body fat, is loose connective tissue composed primarily of adipocytes or fat cells. It is technically considered an endocrine organ as it produces hormones such as leptin, estrogen, and resistin. Adipose tissue serves several important functions:

  • Energy storage – It provides a reserve supply of lipids for periods of starvation or fuel shortage.
  • Insulation – It insulates and cushions organs and the body.
  • Hormone production – It secretes hormones involved in metabolism and appetite regulation.
  • Immune function – It contains immune cells and secretes pro-inflammatory cytokines.

In humans, adipose tissue is located under the skin (subcutaneous fat), around internal organs (visceral fat), in bone marrow (yellow bone marrow), and in breast tissue. The main locations are the buttocks, abdomen, and thighs in women and around the waist in men. Adipose tissue growth requires a positive energy balance where calorie intake exceeds expenditure. The number and size of adipocytes increases in response to excess calories.

Types of Adipose Tissue

There are two main types of adipose tissue:

  1. White adipose tissue (WAT) – This is the most abundant form making up nearly all body fat. White fat cells contain a single large lipid droplet. It is located beneath the skin (subcutaneous) and around organs (visceral) and is the main site of energy storage and release.
  2. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) – This is less common and is more metabolically active. Brown fat cells contain smaller droplets and high amounts of iron-containing mitochondria which give them their brown color. BAT helps regulate body temperature through thermogenesis.

Adipose Tissue Distribution

Body fat distribution tends to differ between men and women due to hormonal and genetic factors. These patterns are also influenced by age and ethnicity. The main patterns are:

  • Gynoid – Fat accumulation around the hips, thighs, and buttocks giving a “pear” shape typical in women.
  • Android – Fat accumulation around the waist giving an “apple” shape more common in men.
  • Omental – Fat buildup in the abdomen around organs.
  • Intramuscular – Fat deposits within skeletal muscle.

What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are the most common lipids (fats) in the body. They are composed of three fatty acid molecules bound to a glycerol backbone. Triglycerides have several important functions:

  • Energy storage – They are the way the body stores unused calories for later use.
  • Transport – They circulate in the blood to carry fat from storage to tissues.
  • Insulation – They protect organs and provide insulation for the body.
  • Hormone production – They are used to synthesize steroid hormones.

Triglycerides cannot travel freely in the blood due to their fat-soluble nature. Instead, they are bound to lipoproteins which allow them to move through the aqueous environment. The main lipoproteins are:

  • Chylomicrons – Carry triglycerides from intestines to tissues.
  • Very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) – Transports triglycerides made by the liver.
  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) – Carries cholesterol and triglycerides to cells.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL) – Transports cholesterol from cells back to the liver.

Triglyceride Metabolism

Triglycerides are either derived from fat in the diet or synthesized in the body by the liver from carbohydrates. Their metabolism involves:

  1. Lipolysis – Triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol by enzymes like lipoprotein lipase.
  2. Fatty acid uptake – Fatty acids are taken up by cells for energy production in the mitochondria via beta-oxidation.
  3. Glycerol metabolism – Glycerol is converted to glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate and feeds into glycolysis.
  4. Triglyceride synthesis – Glycerol and fatty acids are recombined to regenerate triglycerides for storage or transport.

Triglycerides cycle continuously between storage and use. After a meal, insulin stimulates triglyceride synthesis and inhibits lipolysis. During fasting, catecholamines promote lipolysis to release fatty acids for energy.

Health Effects of High Adipose Tissue and Triglycerides

While some body fat is essential, excess adipose tissue and high triglycerides are associated with increased health risks. These include:

Adipose Tissue

  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gallstones
  • Reproductive issues


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Insulin resistance
  • Chylomicronemia syndrome

Excess visceral fat and high triglycerides are more deleterious than subcutaneous fat as they promote inflammation, insulin resistance, and atherosclerosis. Lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, and weight loss can help reduce adipose tissue and triglycerides.

Key Differences Between Adipose Tissue and Triglycerides

Although adipose tissue and triglycerides are closely linked, there are several key differences between them:

Adipose Tissue Triglycerides
Refers to fat cells (adipocytes) Refers to fat molecules in the blood and tissues
Provides long-term energy storage Provides immediate energy availability
Composed of adipocytes containing lipid droplets Composed of fatty acids bound to a glycerol molecule
Located under the skin and around organs Circulates in blood bound to lipoproteins
Growth requires adipocyte proliferation and differentiation Levels depend on synthesis and lipolysis rates

In summary, adipose tissue refers to actual fat cells and their overall mass in the body, while triglycerides are fats circulating in the blood for energy use and transport. The two are interconnected as adipose tissue can release or store triglycerides as needed.


The main types of fat in the human body are adipose tissue and triglycerides. Adipose tissue is composed of fat cells called adipocytes that store energy, insulate the body, and secrete hormones. Triglycerides are fat molecules transported in the blood to provide energy to cells. While some fat is essential, excess levels of adipose tissue and triglycerides are associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues. Maintaining proper diet and exercise helps regulate the amount and distribution of these important forms of body fat.

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