Adipose cells and weight loss

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I've heard that losing weight does not decrease the number of fat cells your body contains. But does this number decrease if you maintain this lower weight over time? I'm thinking that over time, the fat cells die and are replaced at a lower rate.
 

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  • #2
2,745
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Fat is your body storing energy.

If you don't ingest enough input for your body to replace what you are using, it must begin to use the fat to make up for the loss.

At least that is my understanding of it and it appears to agree with the page on wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat#Adipose_tissue

As per other threads, "I've heard" doesn't cut it here. You need a source.

From my own experience recently, weight loss was achieved by eating just under what I required and forcing my body to use its reserves.
 
  • #3
Evo
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I've heard that losing weight does not decrease the number of fat cells your body contains. But does this number decrease if you maintain this lower weight over time? I'm thinking that over time, the fat cells die and are replaced at a lower rate.
The number of fat cells never decrease (unless they are physically removed by surgery, liposuction, perhaps, I'm guessing at this point). Fat cells can get larger or smaller. I read about this years ago.

Here's an article on it.

In the new study, Buchholz analyzed the uptake of carbon-14 in genomic DNA within fat cells to establish the dynamics of fat cell turnover. Approximately 10 percent of fat cells are renewed annually at all adult ages and levels of body mass index.

Neither fat cell death nor its generation rate is altered in early onset obesity, suggesting a tight regulation of the number of fat cells in obese adults.

“Fat cells change in size but no one had ever measured fat cell turnover,” Buchholz said. “An increase in cell size means it can hold more mass.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080509133100.htm
 
  • #4
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AFAIK adipocyte apoptosis can occur but has not been shown to occur to any significant degree in humans under typical physiological conditions (IE dieting).

You can see this review, though its over ten years old by now so there may have been more developments since it was published. The references may also get you some good info.

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v24/n4s/abs/0801491a.html
 
  • #5
bobze
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The number of fat cells never decrease (unless they are physically removed by surgery, liposuction, perhaps, I'm guessing at this point). Fat cells can get larger or smaller. I read about this years ago.

Here's an article on it.



http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080509133100.htm



In deed. Most obesity is from hypertrophy (increasing cell volume) rather than hyperplasia (increasing cell number). Though there are instances where strong genetic influences lead to obesity caused from both hypertrophy and hyperplasia. In the "run of the mill" obesity we are dealing with in Western nations (especially the US) this is due to hypertrophy though.

Adipocytes (fat cells) are pretty static, they don't turn over all that often--So if you loose weight and maintain said healthy weight then you are keeping the cell volumes at a more suitable size.

That said, you do get other cosmetic problems with weight loss. Unlike adipocytes, your skin cells do divide to accommodate the extra room. So while it maybe easy for some to reduce the volume of their adipocytes through weight loss they are left with excessive amounts of skin created from their prior "larger" frames.
 
  • #6
2,745
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That said, you do get other cosmetic problems with weight loss. Unlike adipocytes, your skin cells do divide to accommodate the extra room. So while it maybe easy for some to reduce the volume of their adipocytes through weight loss they are left with excessive amounts of skin created from their prior "larger" frames.

I know it's a bit off topic, but to what extent (how bad)?

I'm currently on strict exercise (2 hours in the gym each day) / diet, so I'm curious. I'm currently 4 stone over my recommended weight for my height (fat b******). Started a fortnight ago and have lost 11 pounds so far (I did no exercise before so it started pretty rapid).
 
  • #8
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I know it's a bit off topic, but to what extent (how bad)?

I'm currently on strict exercise (2 hours in the gym each day) / diet, so I'm curious. I'm currently 4 stone over my recommended weight for my height (fat b******). Started a fortnight ago and have lost 11 pounds so far (I did no exercise before so it started pretty rapid).

a lot of your loss there was water.
 
  • #9
2,745
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a lot of your loss there was water.

Yep, think it's still going. Losing a steady 1lb per day at the moment.

Shall see how it goes, still don't like the sound of the above skin thing.
 
  • #10
Evo
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Yep, think it's still going. Losing a steady 1lb per day at the moment.

Shall see how it goes, still don't like the sound of the above skin thing.
If you lose weight slowly, you might have less of a problem with your skin. Of course in cases of huge amounts of weight loss, there can be too much skin to ever shrink back. I saw one case on tv where a man lost around 400 lbs, maybe more, and had to have 70 pounds of excess skin surgically removed because it was hanging down near the ground and was interfering with him walking.

The older you are is a factor also, skin becomes less elastic wih age.
 
  • #11
2,745
22
If you lose weight slowly, you might have less of a problem with your skin. Of course in cases of huge amounts of weight loss, there can be too much skin to ever shrink back. I saw one case on tv where a man lost around 400 lbs, maybe more, and had to have 70 pounds of excess skin surgically removed because it was hanging down near the ground and was interfering with him walking.

Wow, fortunately I don't have that much extra.

Some really interesting stuff here about the fat cells, certainly something to think about with the weight loss.
 
  • #12
bobze
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Wow, fortunately I don't have that much extra.

Some really interesting stuff here about the fat cells, certainly something to think about with the weight loss.

Yes, like Evo pointed out the rate you loose the weight will help a lot. Slow and steady, wins the race here. If you drop pounds quickly, you'll have less time for your skin to "restructure" to your new size as its turned over.

Like someone else pointed out though, if you are loosing lots of weight and were very obese there is going to be some excess skin--That is inevitable.

I'm not that big on cosmetic surgery or anything, but if it does end up being a problem you can look into cosmetic surgery for excess skin removal. They can do some pretty sweet surgeries now for this with minimal scaring. Again, that is if it gets to be a problem.

For most people, just loosing a few pounds down to a healthy weight it won't be a problem. We had a lady here though, who underwent gastric bypass at close to 600 lbs and ended up down around 160. She had so much extra skin it literally interfered with her day to day life.
 
  • #13
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So, the more fat cells your body has, does this correlate with how readily energy is stored to fat? I mean, if you have more fat cells, does this mean you get fat more easily? I know of many people who lose weight over a year but gain it back after just a couple of months.
 
  • #14
bobze
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So, the more fat cells your body has, does this correlate with how readily energy is stored to fat? I mean, if you have more fat cells, does this mean you get fat more easily? I know of many people who lose weight over a year but gain it back after just a couple of months.

Well, yes and no. That is a complicated answer :smile:

"Fat" is actually your largest endocrine organ. Adipocytes produce lots of hormones that signal parts of your brain (and belly), etc. People who are born with excesses of fat cells are certainly more disposed toward obesity. That doesn't mean someone with less cells cannot get fat though--Like I pointed out above, the majority of obesity is due to hypertrophy of those cells (growing in volume). It isn't until we look at unique cases of genetics or very, very uncontrolled obesity that you start to see hyperplasia (more cells).

What determines how much your body is storing vs burning really depends on a number of complicated factors. How much energy your using being a big one. However, your eating pattern plays a crucial role as well. If for instance, you only eat 2 large meals a day--Your body is going to want to store "energy" for the rest of the majority of the day that you are not eating (thanks body, for making those executive decisions without my consent). A constant and small stream of calories throughout the day ensures better energy utilization to storage ratio for your body.

Other things, like hormones, time of the season (has to do with amount of light your getting), life stage, etc all play important roles as well.

People who loose weight over a year are likely to gain it back again because they don't actually fix the root issue. Diets are bandaids to a larger and more complex problem: eating and health habits. If you don't build good dietary habits, as soon as you come off a diet you're going right back to where you started. Think of it like mental health. Sure you can take Prozac and feel better, but if you don't get to the root of the problem through psycotherapy, you'll be miserable again when you come off the Prozac.
 
  • #15
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No study has proven one way or the other on how to lose massive amounts of weight without having the extra skin. For example, this http://www.bodyfatguide.com/LooseSkin.htm" [Broken] says you will if you do not lose weight slowly.

Basically, there is no real consensus on the subject. The only thing people can agree on is that if you have less than 100lbs and you lose it slowly, then you most likely will not have problems with lose skin.
 
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