Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Does the ability to lose or gain weight have anything to do with fat cell count?

          Only in the sense that collective fat cells may influence your decision making related to appetite, but not in any other manner. Whether one is 500 LBS and has a trillion fat cells or one is 120LBS with many fewer fat cells, one would lose the same weight if they had equal calorie shortages. That is, if each person ate 500 calories a day below their calorie burn, each would lose one pound a week.            There is some evidence that being born with a relatively high amount of fat cells may increase your chance of becoming overweight, but of course you would still have to consume the extra calories. No matter what being overweight always comes down to appetite control in relation to how much one moves.  Many things, including fat cells, can affect appetite.
But at the end of the day it becomes a matter of how driven you are to keep your appetite under control so that you can keep your weight within a healthy range - it just may be more problematic for people with relatively high fat cell counts.
In recent years we have radically increased our knowledge on body fat and how it accumulates and affects health (300,000 people a year die from it). Most significantly we have learned that body fat is an endocrine organ (like the liver, pancreas, etc.) that secretes hormones that send messages to the brain to help regulate storage - in other words, fat has a mind of its own and fights to sustain a level it deems acceptable.  Unfortunately that amount generally isn't what you had in mind!
We all know what causes fat gain, which is that calories consumed are averaging greater than output (if you are wearing it, you ate it). But now we know the system of events that lead to the devastating health consequences related to fat storage: First, fat cells increase their size, and when most of them reach their maximum, the body then increases the number of fat cells. As weight gain continues, messages go out to tell the body to look for more storage areas (not just the subcutaneous adiposities or the kind you see) and here is where the trouble begins. Fat is now getting dumped into vital organs (e.g. liver, heart, etc.) and other tissues (like muscles). This fat is very active, leading to a frequent rise in blood fats and cholesterol and forcing the body to resist insulin so it can't proficiently burn blood sugar from carbohydrates and proteins (it wants to burn the accumulating fats). Unburned sugars are then converted to fats and now add to the problem - higher blood fats, increasing storage and little satiety (cells crying for more CHO) - it's a vicious cycle with no way out except to lose weight. But the first place you need to lose it is - that's right, the hazardous areas - the last place it was deposited - the liver and other non-adipose tissues. Unfortunately that may not happen or certainly not fast enough.

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