Aug 28, 2011

Posted by in Blog, Fitness, Nutrition, Weight Loss | 6 Comments

Fat Cells-how they work

Fat Cells-how they work

Fat Cells; how they work

 

Did you ever wonder why some people have more fat cells than others?  Did you ever wonder how they work? As much as we wish we didn’t have them, they are essential to our lives. Fat cells are designed to expand and shrink depending on diet and exercise. By reducing the amount of fat your body stores is what causes our fat cells to shrink and this is what we call “losing weight”.  Unfortunately, they never go away!

A while ago I lectured on fat cells and how they work.  Many people loved the information, so I thought I would share here. Statistics show that an incredible 65.2 percent of the U.S. population is considered to be “overweight” or “obese.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Here is an interesting statistic from the CDC.

Trends by State 1985–2010

During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. In 2010, no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-six states had a prevalence of 25% or more; 12 of these states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia) had a prevalence of 30% or more.

Did you ever wonder how we create fat cells?  Not only can you fill your fat cells to maximum capacity, but also you can actually make more!!!  Believe it or not, there are certain times in our lives and under certain circumstances, when we can create a higher number of fat cells. Here is the bad news, once you create a fat cell by excessive eating, it is yours for good and never goes away. As you can see from the picture above the difference between someone that has never been obese and those that have reduced their fat cells.  It is still an accomplishment when a person that has been overweight or obese loses a ton of weight and they should feel proud and share the information of why they changed their lives!!!

When we are born we are born with a certain number of fat cells.  A typical infant has 5-6 billion fat cells.  If the mothers diet is bad, she can increase the number of fat cells her baby will have in her third trimester.  This is so important when you are pregnant to make sure you are eating healthy and watching how much weight you gain during your pregnancy.  During pregnancy is another time you can increase your fat cells.  Once you have them, they are yours to keep!!!  You want to make sure you are exercising and eating healthy at this time for a lot of reasons.

During late childhood and early puberty is another time when you can actually increase your fat cells.  It is important to teach your children to eat healthy as children and develop healthy eating habits as they approach this time in their lives.  If they go into this part of their lives with unhealthy habits you are setting them on a course for obesity and a life of the health issues associated with it.

A healthy adult who has healthy body fat has 25-30 billion, and an over weight adult has 75 billion, with severe obesity; this number can be as high as 250 to 300 billion!  That is 10 times what a healthy person has. An overweight person’s fat cells can be up to 3 times larger than a person with ideal body composition.

Dr. Samuel Klein of the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis stated, “The more metabolically harmful fat cells in obese people have 50 to 75 per cent more mass than fat cells in lean people”, said lead author of the study.

If you do not get your weight under control, you can make it difficult for you to loose weight in the future. Many people will go have liposuction to remove unwanted fat, but what they don’t understand is if they don’t change their life style their body will just make more fat cells to deal with the amount of excess food they are consuming.  There are no short cuts!!!  You have to burn 3,500 calories to burn just 1 pound of fat!!

Here are some interesting facts.  A child who has normal weight parents has a 7% chance of being over weight or obese. A child who has 1 over weight parent has a 40% chance of being over weight or obese. A child who has 2 overweight parents has a 70% chance of being over weight or obese.  That is scary when you look at how many children today have 2 over weight or obese parents.  As parents we set the example.  Our children need to see us eating healthy and exercising.  What we do speak so much louder than what we say.

fat_v_muscle3

It has been interesting as I work with people that have been overweight.  As they strive to get lean, sometimes it can be difficult because they can shrink their fat cells but never truly get rid of them.

The more muscle you have and can build your body can burn anywhere from 50-100 more calories even when they are resting.  Fat takes up 5 times mores space so as you burn fat off and increase muscle you will see major inch loss.  I always explain to people it isn’t what you weigh that is important; it is what your body fat percentage is that defines how healthy you are.

 

 

 

 

  1. Hi Michelle –

    Thank you for posting this! The article is very informative.

    Is there any way to know whether you have added fat cells during a weight gain versus expanded existing fat cells? I ask because at one point I had put on 20 lbs. and greatly increased my body fat. The weight is disappearing but the last of it is hard to make disappear. Is there any way to determine whether I have additional fat cells that will make me struggle extra all my life versus just keep going to reach my previously lean state?

    Thank you.

  2. Also, does this article mean to suggest that by eating healthfully and exercising during pregnancy a woman could avoid adding extra fat cells and still have a healthy baby? Or does permanently adding more fat cells come with the territory and it’s just a matter of how much. Thank you!

  3. I was wondering where I might be able to buy replica fat and muscles with the proper proportions. I found a few webpages, but all of them seem to show the 5lb fat as the same size as 5lb muscle. Here is one such page: http://www.enasco.com/product/WA25814HR

  4. Michelle,

    Jamie Eason posted your photo on Facebook and I just had to share it on the BodySite.com Facebook page as well. We talk about this every day and I am still amazed at how often people get this whole fat versus muscle thing mixed up. Weight loss seems too often to be the primary goal instead of people seeking to achieve their optimum size and body composition through proper muscle development, and a diet that combined with that development, results in a muscular lean physique. The end result is ultimately fat loss for all of the right reasons. Thanks for posting this!

    John Cummings, BodySite.com

  5. Michelle LeSueur says:

    Happy to help. Woman have a hard time getting this, that is why I posted it. There are a lot of fat skinny people walking around!! It is about being healthy.

  6. Michelle LeSueur says:

    Yes, by watching what you eat during pregnancy and keeping your weight with the bounds that has been set along with regular exercise can and does make a difference.