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5 Things About: Fat Cells

When it comes to fighting the battle of the bulge, it is best to know your enemy as specifically as you can. So let's get as specific as we can, and talk about fat cells.

Here are five things I think you should know about fat cells.

  1. A person with a healthy weight has 10 to 20 billion fat cells. Newborns begin life with 10 billion, and as babies mature into adults, the number of fat cells increases naturally over time, just like other cells.
  2. A person who is considered obese, with a BMI over 30, can have up to 100 billion fat cells.
  3. The number of fat cells in your body can increase at any time if you overeat for a long enough period of time, consistently feeding your body more calories than it burns. When a fat cell reaches its maximum size, it calls out to fat precursor cells and tells them to turn into full-fledged fat cells. Generally, you can gain 30 pounds over a healthy weight without creating an excessive amount of fat cells.

To see how fat cells react when you lose weight, just


  1. Fat cells are not inert. They actually secrete hormones which influence the body in beneficial or detrimental ways, depending on the size of the fat cell. Small fat cells make a hormone that helps maintain insulin sensitivity in the liver and other muscles, which in turn helps to ward off type 2 diabetes. In obese people with large fat cells, the production of this beneficial hormone shuts down, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  2. When you go into a calorie deficit, by eating fewer calories than your body requires, your cells release fat to be used as fuel. While the fat cells shrink, the number of fat cells remains the same. Once your body has made fat cells, you have those fat cells forever. While that sounds dire, all hope for creating and maintaining a healthy weight is not lost. Once fat cells shrink, they start secreting the beneficial hormone once again, which is great for your health.


Join The Conversation
Gulimz Gulimz 8 years
i lost almost 100 lbs in 4 yrs....... stinks knowing that those fat cells are still with me BLAH!
alxxxmx alxxxmx 8 years
i thought that the number of fat cells becomes fix when you're through puberty, so if you gain weight it would be that you fat cells have become larger but not grow in numbers, no?
Lilavati Lilavati 8 years
Now we all need to read some success stories about weight loss. :)
mtiger mtiger 8 years
So, I was about 45 pounds overweight at my heaviest...does this mean that I'll never be able to lose the rest of this fat?!
thelorax thelorax 8 years
My mom, a nurse, told me about this (never losing the # of fat cells once you've gained them) years ago, and it's haunted me ever since!
nowari_101 nowari_101 8 years
good to know
imLissy imLissy 8 years
"Generally, you can gain 30 pounds over a healthy weight without creating an excessive amount of fat cells." that's very comforting. At my highest weight, I was only about 20 pounds overweight, so it's good to know I don't have too many extra fat cells hanging around just waiting to blow up again.
Stupidasscat Stupidasscat 8 years
I know most of it but its depressing to know that once they form thats it you cant get rid of them without lipo
Soniabonya Soniabonya 8 years
must shrink fat cells. must shrink fat cells. It's sad to know that you can't get rid of fat cells, only shrink them. I heard it's harder to lose the fat cell bulk, especially if you were obese as a child or teenager. is that true? (worried for my cousin)
Taadie Taadie 8 years
jessie jessie 8 years
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