A common misunderstanding in most weight loss circles is whether fat cells disappear when you lose weight, or whether fat cells just shrink.
Before this misunderstanding can be addressed, a few basic biology facts need to be clarified.
As an infant, you have five to six billion fat cells, all designed to take in calories and store them for energy for use at a later time.
As you grow and mature the number of fat cells also increase so you can maintain adequate energy stores.
By the time you reach adulthood, you have roughly 30 billion fat cells living in harmony with the rest of the cells (muscles, organs, and blood) of your body.
However, when you are overweight or obese, the amount of fat cells continue to climb and can reach upwards of 100 to 300 billion fat cells.
So what happens when you gain or lose weight?
Can you shrink fat cells?
Fat Cells and Your Health
Recent research shows that fat cells are, in fact, an active, hormone-secreting tissue.
Prior to this, people assumed fat cells were just a storage unit, and that they just sat there, covering your abdominals, thighs, and hips.
However, now we know better. In fact, fat cells release powerful hormones that control things like appetite, energy expenditure, and even conditions that may lead to diabetes.
The whole purpose of fat cells is to gather excess energy and store if for later use in the form of triaglycerol.
Once needed, an intricate and complicated process occurs which liberates fatty acids from your fat cells, and sends them off in your bloodstream to be used by working muscles.
This process is the one that actually shrinks fat cells because you lose fatty acids for energy use, causing the cell to become deflated and shrink.
However, when we eat too much, or your body is flooded with extra energy, your fat cells fill up and bloat because they are taking in the extra energy.
When the fat cell is at full capacity, it sends a signal to immature fat cells (pre-adipocytes) and stimulates them to become full-fledged fat cells (adipocytes).
When the immature fat cells become mature fat cells, they now have the ability to take on excess energy and store it.
This process of growing to maximum capacity (hypertrophy of the fat cells) and sending a signal to immature fat cells to create more fat cells (hyperplasia of the fall cells), is the crux of where common health ailments arise.
The Best Way To Shrink Fat Cells
Universally, there are two ways that are known to shrink fat cells.
First, you need to burn more calories than you are eating.
This can be a simple process of watching what you eat by taking in fewer calories and burning more calories through exercise.
By creating a negative caloric balance, you are sure to shrink fat cells.
A negative caloric balance allows you to liberate more fatty acids from your fat cells, thus shrinking the size of your fat cells.
Exercise also creates a negative caloric balance because it requires energy to keep you moving and working out.
Exercise can lead to increased calorie burn, which can significantly shrink fat cells.
Go Out and Shrink Fat Cells
To shrink fat cells, you first need to understand the basic function of fat cells.
Not only are fat cells used to store extra calories as energy for later use, but fat cells can also secrete powerful hormones that regulate energy storage, appetite, and reduce your risk for chronic diseases.
There are ways to shrink fat cells (healthy diet and exercise), but fat cells that currently cling to your body will be with you forever.
Diet and exercise may create a negative caloric balance, which could cause you to shrink fat cells, leaving them empty all over your body.
In conclusion, when people say that you can shrink fat cells, they are correct.
The combination of diet and exercise can create a negative caloric balance, and are ways to shrink fat cells, giving you the lean, chiseled look you are after.
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