The Surprising Truth about how Fat Cells Work

Dr, Donna Restivo

Posted on July 27 2017

When you’re taking part in doctor supervised weight loss, you’ll hear a lot about “burning fat.” It’s an encouraging concept. You make some healthy changes to your diet, get a little more exercise, and the fat just melts away. But if you take a closer look at how fat cells work, you’ll discover that burning fat isn’t quite as simple as the term suggests.

Fat “burning” is actually a chemical process that occurs in the body, and fat cells serve a very important purpose. Here’s what you should know:

 

Your Body Replaces Dead Fat Cells

The number of fat cells in your body increase during childhood and young adulthood. They usually stabilize once you’re body stops changing and you reach full adulthood. Fat cells die just like skin cells or red blood cells. But studies have shown that, just like these other types of cells, fat cells are replaced after they die.

When you lose weight and burn fat, you aren’t actually eliminating fat cells. You’re just reducing their mass by chemically changing what’s stored inside them into usable energy. That’s why gaining weight back after we’ve lost it feels so easy even under doctor supervised weight loss. The cells are already there, we’re just increasing what’s stored inside them.

Some individuals may have more fat cells than others, but that doesn’t mean losing weight is impossible. Even if you have a high number of fat cells, you can lose weight by eating a healthier diet and making lifestyle changes.

 

Fat Cells Store Energy

Most of your body, like your organs, your muscles, and even your brain, is designed to use up energy. In a way, you’re conditioned to burn fat. Fat cells are there to store energy for later use. Given human history, fat cells have actually played a huge role in our survival. Our ancient ancestors could never be sure that food would be readily available. If they stored some of what they ate, they had a better chance of surviving through periods of food scarcity.

The general weight loss equation dictates that eating less while exercising more leads to a lower weight. Today, we understand that what we eat and how our bodies are built play a much greater role than we once realized. Our bodies use the glucose we obtain from foods as its initial fuel source. Once the glucose runs out, it resorts to using the energy stores in our fat cells.

There are several other factors that influence our weight beyond how fat cells work, like body toxicity and our hormones. But getting our bodies to use up the energy stored in our fat cells is the healthiest way to lose weight. Changing your fuel supply (the foods you eat) and detoxifying your body are the two methods commonly used during doctor supervised weight loss.

 

Fat Isn’t Only on the Outside

When we’re trying to lose weight, we think a lot about the fat around our tummies, on our arms and legs, and on our rears. But fat is stored in several places internally as well as on the outside of our bodies. Fat is stored in the liver and on top of the kidneys in addition to the usual places. You can even find fat in your muscles.

Having too much fat within your liver and around your kidneys can cause serious health problems, which is why burning fat isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It can impact your overall health and the functionality of your internal organs.


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