We spend so much time looking for ways to get rid of body fat that we don’t bother trying to understand what body fat really is or how it works. You may have no idea how your body stores fat, or what fat cells are or do.
According to research done in Sweden, the number of fat cells in the body NEVER changes. The number of fat cells won’t increase or decrease according to your body fat. However, what will change is the SIZE of those fat cells. The more body fat you have, the more fat has accumulated on those fat cells in your body. If you lose weight, the fat cells shrink.
Fun Fact: Liposuction may remove fat cells (as well as reducing the size of the other fat cells), but your body will always form new ones to replace them. The number of fat cells will always be consistent.
There is one exception to this rule: significant weight gain. If you pack on A LOT of body fat in a short period of time, your body is unable to store all of the fat in the fat cells it currently has. It is forced to produce new fat cells, meaning there is now more storage space in your body. You will never be able to get rid of those fat cells completely, so the struggle to lose weight and reduce body fat will be an uphill struggle.
This happens because the fat cells have a certain size “limit”. They can only stretch so far to accommodate more and more fat, but once they reach their size limit, your body is forced to produce new fat cells. As the fat cells are stretched, they release hormone signals that tells your body it needs more storage space. Just like adding a new set of shelves to your garage or a new bookshelf in your living room, your body produces new fat cells in order to accommodate the increase in fat present.
Do you know where these fat cells are mostly located?
Men tend to carry most of their body fat in their bellies, as well as in your chest and buttocks. This is why overweight men are referred to as “apple-shaped”.
Women tend to carry most of their body fat in their buttocks, hips, thighs, breasts, and the back of the arms. This is why overweight men often look “pear-shaped”.
But how can you break down and get rid of the fat that has been stored in your body as a result of your weight gain?
- Exercise — Exercise burns calories, and the more calories you burn, the more your body will be forced to tap into your fat stores. Your body has two energy sources: glycogen and fat. When it runs out of glycogen, it has to burn fat.
- Eat a balanced, controlled diet –– This means consuming roughly 1,500 to 2,000 calories (depending on size and activity level) per day. This is more than enough for the average person to maintain their body weight while burning fat at a slow, healthy rate. You’ll want to make sure to get plenty of complex carbs, protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It’s all about balance!
- Eat healthy fats –– When your body senses that it’s not getting enough fat from your diet, it stubbornly clings to the fat already stored in the fat cells. To get rid of it, you need to eat healthy fats–the kind that come from olives, coconuts, nuts, and other plant-based sources. Even some animal fat is healthy, but you need to avoid trans fats (from fried and processed foods).