Hibernating? The Facts about Fat Storage in your Body
December 19, 2016
We all have our reasons for working out and eating smart—hopefully health is at the top of your list. And if we were to guess, we’d bet you probably want to get or stay trim and lean.
If you think fat storage in your body is the “enemy” of a fitness program, know that body fat serves its purposes and offers benefits, too. Here are some important facts on fat:
- Everyone stores some fat to provide insulation and body shape. From rosy cheeks to the pads of your feet, body fat keeps you warm, protects your bones from impact, and even creates your facial profile.
- Essential fatty acids are thought to turn on fat-burning genes as well as help regulate thyroid function and hormones, which play a significant role in body weight.
- An infant usually has about 5 – 6 billion fat cells. This number increases during early childhood and puberty, and a healthy adult with normal body composition has about 25 to 30 billion fat cells.
- A typical overweight adult has approximately 50 – 75 billion fat cells—more fat cells in one human body than there are people on the earth.
- Good news: there is a lot of energy available in those fat cells. A typical adult stores about 60,000 to 100,000 calories of energy in body fat cells. That will keep you going for quite a while!
- Some people are genetically predisposed to have more fat cells than others and women have more fat cells than men. But women’s fat cells are strategically placed in greater numbers around hips and breasts.
- While you can’t control how many fat cells you were born with, you do control the major factors that determine how much fat you store in your cells: lifestyle, exercise, nutrition and state of mind.
- Fat cells can increase both in size and in number, but they are more likely to increase in number at certain times in life, especially during puberty, pregnancy, and large weight gain in adults.
- A fat cell can expand 10 to 12 times its normal size. The cells are located under the skin but over the muscles – that’s why with less body fat, you can see more muscle definition.
- Stress can cause a certain physical reaction – the release of the enzyme cortisol – that prompts fat storage. (Cortisol is stored in fat cells, especially around the abdomen.)
- Fat cells live for an average of ten years, but die at the rate of 150 per second. Each time a fat cell is lost the body makes a new one to replace it. That’s how important they are!