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Fat cell numbers and losing weight
Many overweight people manage to lose weight yet still cannot manage to reduce their total fat percentage down to a level where the abdominal muscles can be clearly seen. Is it because our genes wont allow us to lose all the fat?
Our genetic potential for developing a very lean body is largely related to the number of subcutaneous (under the skin) fat cells surrounding the body and to a lesser degree the amount of visceral fat (invisible fat within the body cavity). For most people the amount of visceral fat seems to be directly related to the amount of subcutaneous fat. That is, people who possess ample subcutaneous fat generally have a high level within the cavity too.
We all have a different number of fat cells surrounding the body. At around the age of 16 years the number of fat cells are established and our lifestyle and genes both play a part in the outcome. Once numbers are determined rarely are they reduced, what actually happens when we burn fat is the amount of fat stored within each fat cell decreases and the fat cell simply shrinks in volume.
Fat cells may increase but that's down to you!
The number of fat cells can be increased only through severe and prolonged obesity when all present fat cells have become full. Tom Venuto explained this well in one of his interviews...
"Fat cells tend to increase in NUMBER most readily when excessive weight is gained due to overeating and or inactivity during the following periods:
1. During late childhood and early puberty
2. During pregnancy
3. Most commonly, during adulthood when extreme amounts of weight are gained
Normally during adulthood, the number of fat cells remain about the same, except in the case of obesity. When the existing fat cells are filled to capacity, new fat cells can continue to be created in order to provide additional storage even in adults. A typical overweight adult has around 75 billion fat cells. But in the case of severe obesity, this number can be as high as 250 to 300 billion!
Because of these facts, many people develop the attitude, "Well, I have more fat cells than other people, so what's the use, I'll never reach my goals". Some people argue that obesity is genetic and that once you're obese and your fat cells have multiplied, it's an uphill battle which you believe you may not ever win.
The number of fat cells you possess will certainly influence how difficult it will be for you to lose body fat. It's one of the reasons why some people have a more difficult time losing weight than others and why some people seem to gain weight more easily than others if they're not very careful and diligent with their diet and exercise programs.
If you have a difficult time about losing fat and you still harbor doubts about your ultimate potential to get lean because of genetics or fat cells, here's a question you might want to ask yourself:
Has anybody else who was obese as a child and throughout young adulthood - even 100 pounds or more overweight - lost it ALL and kept it off?
There are hundreds of people in the USA and UK who have successfully reduced fat. If someone else who has 200 billion fat cells has achieved their ideal weight and body composition, then so can you. So what if you have more fat cells - with the right action plan, you can make them 200 billion empty fat cells!"
A person with a naturally large number of fat cells wont necessarily be subjected to a lifetime of fatness. Losing weight now can also put an immediate stop to any potential increase in fat cell numbers. With the correct diet and exercise regime developed to suit individual body types fat cells can be shrunk enough to give that lean, healthy look, it just may take a little more time!
Quantity versus Size of fat cells
Fat cell numbers are different between two people yet its possible for both to have a similar fat percentage. For example if someone had 500 million fat cells and a second person only had 300 million fat cells, these two people could both have a similar fat percentage if the second person has a sedentary lifestyle causing more fat to be stored in his/her cells. That is, the fat cells have become fuller and contain a greater volume within each cell. In this case it would result in a fat percentage higher than normal for this person but around the same as the first person with a higher number of fat cells.
A person with a higher number of fat cells may have less potential for a very low fat percentage because all fat cells must contain some fat for storage.
Fat cell distribution!!
It is also possible that one person can possess more fat cells around certain parts of the body. This can affect the look between different people. For example, if one managed to reduce her fat percentage to 10% but had a high number of fat cells around the stomach then she may look fatter compared to a friend with 15% body fat who has a more even distribution of fat cells over the body. The result is she would have to work harder and reduce fat percentage even lower if she wanted to look leaner than her friend around the stomach area.
No matter how many fat cells we have we all have the physical potential to reduce our body fat however, fat percentage cannot be rapidly reduced within a few weeks. The fact is it must involve some type of physical activity and require some type of sensible and healthy changes in eating habits. If long-term weight control is the goal these changes should last a lifetime. For some people especially those with large numbers of fat cells it may just take more time and require a stricter but sensible exercise and diet regimen.
Although our genes control the number of fat cells we have, this is not the only factor in weight management. Our lifestyle and eating habits play a huge part. These are factors that can be changed but only through conscious choice!