Anatomy Series: Fat Cells

by Linda DeGroot
by Linda DeGroot

Co-Founder at 30/10 Weight Loss for Life

As a weight loss company, we are experts on fat loss! But we wanted to take this opportunity to dive into the actual anatomy behind fat cells. As a kickoff for our Anatomy Series, here are some ‘fat’scinating facts about fat cells!

How many fat cells do we have?

  • The average adult has ~50 billion fat cells in their body.
  • Fat cells are located everywhere in our bodies; in our muscles (intramuscular), underneath our skin (subcutaneous fat) and around our organs (visceral fat). We even carry fat in our hands, feet, and scalp! 
  • A size 10 female (the average size of women in the U.S.) usually carries about 100,000 calories worth of energy (fat), which is the equivalent of 54 packs of butter! 
  • Similarly to a balloon, fat cells can expand 10-12x their original size, allowing for the storage of extra body fat when needed.

Did you know our bodies are constantly making fat cells? 

  • Each cell has a 7-10 year lifespan and every second, 150 of them die and are replaced with new cells. 
  • Our bodies are constantly keeping tabs on how many fat cells we have and how much fat is in them. This monitoring is important as it ensures we have enough energy to last us in times of potential famine, think..survival mode!
  • Gender and genetics determine where fat deposits lie in the body. Men tend to carry fat in the visceral (abdominal cavity) area more, and women carry subcutaneous fat (under the skin) more often in their hips and legs.

So how can I make my fat cells disappear? 

  • You can’t! Unfortunately there isn’t a magic spell to make them disappear, but a healthy diet and exercise can deflate the amount of fat in your cells by creating a calorie deficit. Which fat deposit your body decides to pull from when you’re in a deficit is not up to you. You could lose fat in your arms first, then your legs, and lastly in your trunk. Or you could lose fat in your trunk really quickly and then very slowly in your limbs. It’s a mystery but just remember to trust the process of your weight loss journey! 
  • Liposuction and fat freezing procedures remove fat cells from targeted areas and prevents your body from forming new ones in that spot for up to 7 years. Read more about these short-term weight loss methods in our blog here. The issue with these procedures is that if you don’t change your exercise and eating habits, your body will make new cells in other places to replace the ones lost. This means that if you get the procedure done on your tummy and still eat a high calorie diet, you could have extra deposits of fat in your arms or legs that wouldn’t have been funneled there before.

Stay tuned for more from our Anatomy Series where we dive into different systems and organs of the body and their functions! Next up is Anatomy Series: Kidneys

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