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Where Does the Fat Go?

Let’s talk about fat! The good, the bad, and event the frustrating sides of it.

We can start with the good: your body needs some fat! Too little fat (or adipose tissue) can have harmful metabolic consequences. Now for the bad: too much adipose tissue can also have harmful metabolic consequences, and most of us tend to have too much on board. So how do we find the happy medium, and what happens to our fat when we do?

While most of us think of our body fat as storage of excess food that we may have eaten, it does do a few other things. Your fat cells contain metabolic machinery that allows it to talk with your other organs and your central nervous system and helps your body carry out essential life functions. Pretty busy fat cells right?

Most adults have a generally stable number of fat cells. Those fat cells can grow in size as excess energy is taken into the body and stored, and they can shrink as that stored fat is broken down and used. When that stored fat is broken down, it releases carbon dioxide and water, which is for the most part released through your body as you breathe.

So how can we shrink those little guys and breathe out those extra pounds? Good news: changing eating habits and increasing physical activity is the keys to losing excess weight! Sounds easy enough, but we seem to struggle with continuing those behaviors long-term.

Bad news: those shrunken fat cells can grow again unless those new behaviors of healthy food choices and physical activity become lifestyle changes. What’s even more frustrating? If those fat cells continue to grow, they can divide, which means an increase in storage space for fat. Not to mention the weight-related health conditions that follow, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, and potentially some types of cancer.

So what do you really need to know about the fat on your body? We need a little, but not a lot. Maintaining weight is a struggle for most people, but there is help! Joining a weight management program for support with changing your eating habits increasing your physical activity can help ensure that the fat you’ve worked hard to break down stays away for good.

CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team
CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team

These blogs are written by members of the CHI Health Nutrition Services team.

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