Our Body Fat Composition
Our fat composition is a factor of both:
The number of fat cells we have - is genetic and cannot
be changed no matter how much we diet or exercise.
The amount of fat contained in those fat cells –
can be changed with diet.
These fat cells are either:
- Subcutaneous - under the skin,
surrounding the body
- Visceral fat - invisible fat within
the body cavity. This is dangerous fat, as it collects
around the body organs, inhibiting their functioning,
particularly the heart
For most people the amount of visceral fat seems to
be directly related to the amount of subcutaneous fat.
Number of Fat Cells
The number of fat cells are established by mid puberty,
based upon our genetics and childhood lifestyle. The
number of fats cells is rarely reduced, but can be increased
through excessive weight gain due to overeating and
- Late childhood and early puberty
- Adulthood when extreme amounts of weight are gained
And only when all present fat cells become full. When
all existing fat cells are filled to capacity, new fat
cells can be created to provide additional storage.
A typical overweight adult has around 75 billion fat
cells; with this number increasing to 250 - 300 billion
Amount of Fat in Cells
When we burn fat, the amount of fat stored within each
fat cell decreases, rather than the number of fat cells
reducing. The fat cell simply shrinks in volume. When
you restrict your calorie intake to that below your
daily requirement, fat is emptied from the fat cells,
and no further fat cells will be produced.
Fat Cell Distribution
Each person distributes their fat cells proportionately
in different regions, by varying amounts. As such, when
you ‘put on weight’ you may notice that
more fat appears to be on one particular part of the
body. In reality the fat has been evenly distributed
amongst the fat cells, its just the volume of fats cells
that gives the impression of localised fat deposits.
A women with very low body fat [10%] may have a high
number of fat cells around the stomach. This may make
her look fatter compared to a woman with 15% body fat,
where the fat cells are more evenly distributed over
to measure body fat