How Fat Cells Work
Body fat is important to have because it keeps us warm, cushions our organs and provides a back up source of energy in case of famine. Normally we only “make” fat cells at 2 points in our lives: in the 3rd trimester when we are still in our mother’s womb, and during puberty. However, when we continuously over consume calories, and underused our bodies, we can create more….. Bummer!
Think of your fat cells as glasses of water that like to be half full. They can lose water, or hold more water but they are happiest when they are half full. If all goes well during birth and puberty, we have the optimal number of fat cells to function & survive when we reach adulthood.
Now let’s say I enter adulthood with 2 fat cells (1 from birth, and 1 from puberty) that are both half full. My body is happy & has achieved homeostasis. Life is good! I then develop the typical western lifestyle of a high stress job, very little activity and 2-3 large meals of about 1000 calories each per day. All of these factors are perceived by the body as stress, and the body responds by holding on to fat. The body now begins to fill the fat cells (or water glasses) to their capacity.
Once the fat cells (or water glasses) have reached their full capacity, they will divide to create 2 more fat cells. So now, instead of 2 full cells (water glasses), I have 4 semi-filled cells (or water glasses). Remember that our fat cells like to be half full… so what happens? Hormones are now released to increase my appetite so the cells (water glasses) can fill up to their half full state & be happy (AKA homeostasis). …And we gain bit more weight.
Well that sucks… but what about losing weight?
With the exception of liposuction (which is NOT the solution to this problem), once we have extra fat cells we keep them. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to create healthy eating habits as early as possible. Once you gain weight it is possible to lose it, however in order to do so your fat cells have to get used to being less than “half full.” The typical diet western diet of highly processed foods increases our appetite and increases the chance of us gaining weight. Choosing real goods like lean meats, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats will naturally help you to maintain a healthy weight….Think about that next time your tempted by the candy bowl in the office! 🙂