Just thought you should know- The Incredible Shrinking Fat Cell: What Really Happens When Body Fat is Burned?

I was doing some research this morning on fat, fat cells and what exactly happens to fat cells when we lose weight. I was pondering some questions, some of which I know from school, but wanted more info, such as:

  • What exactly are fat cells?
  • Why do we have fat cells?
  • How many fat cells do we have?
  • Do we have a set amount of fat cells?
  • Do we gain fat cells?
  • Can we get rid of fat cells? (That was the big one for me)

The simplest answers to all of these question? Basically, fat cells store energy for our body when food is scarce. A healthy adult has between 35-30 billion fat cells. An overweight person has approximately 75 billion fat cells. In extreme cases of severe obesity, the numbers can go as high as 250-300 billion fat cells.

As it turns out, we DO NOT have a set amount. Yes, WE CAN GAIN fat cells…however…(and this is the depressing part) we NEVER LOSE fat cells. As it turns out, they shrink, but, once we gain a fat cell, we’re stuck with it…it never goes away. You see, fat cells die at a rate of about 10% per year, however, they are replaced by an equal number of fat cells, so the number remains constant. If we gain weight, and fat cells are too full, the body creates more. When we lose weight, they shrink, and tell the body they’re empty, which creates cravings for food, causing us to eat and fill them back up. which is why it’s so hard to lose weight and keep it off, once we’ve put it on!


This was a VERY brief explanation. If you’d like a more in depth explanation, and the exact process of fat burning in the body (including the hormones, enzymes and chemicals involved), see the great article by Tom Venuto, a natural bodybuilder, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and a certified personal trainer (CPT).

What Really Happens When Body Fat is Burned?

Follow this link for the main article: The Incredible Shrinking Fat Cell: What Really Happens When Body Fat is Burned?

Author: Tamara Hoerner

Welcome to The Purple Almond Wellness! I’m Tamara Hoerner, MHNE, RNCP, wellness educator and founder of Purple Almond Wellness. I work with middle-age individuals to help support brain health and develop whole body wellness, in order to improve the quality of their mid-life years. Heart and Alzheimer’s diseases run in my family and I struggled with weight loss, so I strive to help others with similar conditions. Using only nutrition, I rid my body of seasonal allergies, Psoriatic Arthritis and migraines, as well as cured my insomnia. I know what it takes to use food as medicine, especially in middle age. As a wellness educator and Summa Cum Laude graduate of Hawthorn University, I develop personalized nutrition plans and wellness education sessions, to help clients. For me, the name Purple Almond symbolizes “Good, nutritious, whole food bringing light and life to the body, awakening the inherent healing mechanisms within.” I'm all about getting back to the basics, good old fashioned traditional organic, whole food, the kind your great-grandmother used to eat. You'll find no processed foods here. Just good food to heal your whole body. I also believe a healthy body isn't just about food. Stress plays a large part in the physical health of our body. I, therefore, believe in using anything that relieves stress and heals the body, including: mediation, yoga, music, laughter, inspiration and helping others. You'll find all these included in my blog as well.

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