Did you know that by the time you exit puberty your body typically stops creating fat cells? The fat cells you have into adulthood increase in volume when you gain weight and shrink when you lose it. It’s one of the reasons there’s a difference between fat loss and weight loss.
What Are Fat Cells?
According to Craig Freudenrich, PH.D., fat or adipose tissue is found in different areas of the body. Subcutaneous fat is located just under the skin. Some fat, called visceral fat, can be found on top of your kidneys and in your liver. Even smaller amounts are stored in muscle.
Men carry fat in their chest, abdomen, and buttocks. Women usually carry it in their breasts, hips, waist, and buttocks. Interestingly, science has proven that your body doesn’t typically generate fat cells after puberty. As your body stores fat, the number of fat cells stays the same. The cells just get bigger. Craig Freudenrich raises the theory that there are potential exceptions to this, but in general, the number of fat cells the body has after puberty remain the same into adulthood.
How Do Fat Cells Accumulate?
It’s all about diet, right? You are what you eat! Well, not entirely.
ScienceBlogs’s Ed Yong covers the emerging science of obesity and the new understanding of fat cells stemming from studies. A study conducted by Kirsty Spalding from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that people with more body fat had larger fat cells both in their subcutaneous and visceral (belly) fat. The study found that the number of fat cells a person has is set during childhood. Each year, roughly 8% of their fat cells die off and are replaced.
The obese subjects in Spalding’s study included people who were obese from an early age. Interestingly, most of them grew up to be obese. Approximately 75% of obese children become obese adults.
Once fat cell counts are set during childhood, there isn’t a change in adulthood unless a significant event triggers fat cell production. The exact reasons for childhood obesity vary, and sometimes, they have little (or nothing) to do with diet and activity levels.
How Do You Get Rid of Fat Cells?
As weight is lost, fat cells shrink, which is why a person who loses weight begins to look thinner or smaller. If the accumulation of fat cells has little to do with diet and exercise, then it stands to reason losing fat isn’t all about diet and exercise. While adopting a healthy lifestyle is without a doubt a key factor to losing weight and seeing the number on the scale drop, it’s not the only contributing factor to losing fat.
Your body will naturally break down fat, but the number of fat cells will remain the same. Maintaining a healthy weight generally requires:
- Eating a balanced diet of carbohydrates, fat, and protein
- Avoiding overeating (a daily diet of 1,500 to 2,000 calories is usually sufficient)
- Regular exercise
While your body will naturally burn fat for energy, sometimes it doesn’t burn it where you want. This is where targeted fat loss strategies based on the science we just covered come into the picture.
Fat Loss (and Reduction) Strategies
Diet and exercise-resistant fat can be treated in multiple ways. For people trying to rid themselves of fat in hard-to-target areas, body contouring procedures have provided a non-invasive and non-surgical solution, depending on their body and goals.
CoolSculpting and Body Contouring
Our “go to” fat reduction treatment is CoolSculpting, which we many times combine with Radial Pulse Therapy to generate the best possible results. CoolSculpting works by freezing and destroying fat cells so that the body naturally flushes them out through the lymphatic system and they are gone for good. It can treat unwanted fat on the abdomen, back, love handles, bra fat, double chin, inner and outer thighs, and upper arms.
We also specialize in the use of Exilis Ultra, Kybella, and SculpSure for body contouring and skin tightening needs. You’ll need to schedule a consultation to find out if you are a candidate for one of these body contouring treatments.