5 Different Types of Fat and How to Burn Them

Discover five different types of fat you carry on your body, and how to effectively target and burn each.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #291

3. Epicardial fat is the third kind of fat, and is simply the visceral fat that surrounds your heart. If you ever took an anatomy course in school and saw a cow or sheep heart wrapped in a layer of hard yellow fat, then you’ve seen epicardial fat. Unfortunately, large amounts of this type of fat are associated with obesity, diabetes, inflammation in surrounding organs, and high blood pressure. To target epicardial fat, both short bursts of high intensity cardio and longer steady state cardio both seem to work.

If you ever took an anatomy course in school and saw a cow or sheep heart wrapped in a layer of hard yellow fat, then you’ve seen epicardial fat. 

4. Next is intramuscular fat, which is the kind of fat that lies inside your muscles. You’ve probably seen this type of fat marbling in a fatty beef steak, and fortunately, intramuscular fat can provide a readily available source of energy for your muscles if you’ve actually trained your body how to be a “fat burning machine.” From an exercise standpoint, one of the best ways to do this is to engage in low-level aerobic activity at at least under 75% of max heart rate, preferably with limited carbohydrate intake or in a fasted state of “ketosis.” How do you find out which zone is best for this type of fat? In What Is The Fat Burning Zone? you learned discover that for most individuals, the fat-burning zone occurs at 45-65% of the maximum heart rate, and that is the typical calculation used by personal trainers. They’ll take the number 220, and subtract your age to find your maximum heart rate, then take 45-65% of that number to find your maximum fat-burning zone. But this number is highly variable and tends to be erroneous, primarily because the maximum heart rate is highly variable. So check out that episode for my quick and dirty tip for finding your personalized fat-burning zone far more accurately.

5. Finally, there’s brown fat, which is highly metabolically active and can be used to burn calories to generate heat in response to cold exposure. Since they can’t shiver to stay warm, babies have plenty of brown fat, but until recently researchers thought that adults didn’t have much brown fat. That’s since been proven false, and the concept of cold thermogenesis relies on the fact that you can train yourself to build more brown fat or to convert subcutaneous “white fat” into brown fat. Want to learn how? Check out my episode on how to use cold weather to lose weight.

Finally, it’s important to understand that different people from different ancestries will have different body fat distribution patterns, and that’s why there are four different basic body shapes for men and four different body shapes for women. For example, sme men will carry more fat on the trunk and less fat on the limbs, while some women carry more fat on the lower body but less fat on the upper body. To learn more about these different shapes, and how to get a targeted exercise and diet program for each, visit www.GetFitGuy.com to read “Get Fit Guy’s Guide To Achieving Your Ideal Body”.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to burn more fat from all the different fat storing parts of your body? Join the conversation at Facebook.com/getfitguy.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.