John Robert Cardillo

How Fat is Stored in Our Bodies

The process of how body fat is stored is a subject that most nutrition, diet experts, the health and fitness industry do not totally understand. Many theories and outright nonsensical claims are put forward regarding what causes us to gain body fat and the quick fix (for a price) to lose this fat. The common answer we get from most “diet experts” is that, at any meal where a person consumes in excess of what the metabolism can use in a period of time extra calories beyond what is required by the body will be stored as body fat.

In order to be able to best advise people on what eating regimen they should follow, it is imperative that a diet and nutrition professional fully understand how the body metabolizes food. The science behind how the three macronutrients, when eaten in excess, will be stored as body fat is somewhat complicated. The fact is that understanding how our body has the ability to convert protein, carbohydrates and fats to body fat is important in order for us to make more rational choices when it comes to every morsel of food we put into our mouths.

The first step in succeeding in any endeavour is understanding the scope, context, variables and as many details as possible. The pages that follow are important to your understanding how fat is stored.

How fat cells work:

About half of the adults in North America are overweight. That is 200 million people who have too much body fat. Many people exercise and go on diets to reduce the amount of their body fat. But have you ever wondered what that is? Person gets fat, gains weight, what is exactly happening inside the person’s body? What are

 

How fat is stored:

The process of how body fat is stored is a subject that most nutrition, diet experts, the health and fitness industry do not totally understand. Many theories and outright nonsensical claims are put forward regarding what causes us to gain body fat and the quick fix (for a price) to lose this fat. The common answer we get from most “diet experts” is that, at any meal where a person consumes in excess of what the metabolism can use in a period of time extra calories beyond what is required by the body will be stored as body fat.

 In order to be able to best advise people on what eating regimen they should follow, it is imperative that a diet and nutrition professional fully understand how the body metabolizes food. The science behind how the three macronutrients, when eaten in excess, will be stored as body fat is somewhat complicated. The fact is that understanding how our body has the ability to convert protein, carbohydrates and fats to body fat is important in order for us to make more rational choices when it comes to every morsel of food we put into our mouths.

The first step in succeeding in any endeavour is understanding the scope, context, variables and as many details as possible. The pages that follow are important to your understanding how fat is stored.

How fat cells work:

About half of the adults in North America are overweight. That is 200 million people who have too much body fat. Many people exercise and go on diets to reduce the amount of their body fat. But have you ever wondered what that is? Person gets fat, gains weight, what is exactly happening inside the person’s body? What are  fat cells, and how do they work?

Fat cells are formed in a developing fetus during the third trimester of pregnancy, and later at the onset of puberty, when the sex hormones kick in. One amazing fact is that fat cells do not multiply after puberty. As your body stores more fat, the number of fat cells remains the same. Each fat cell simply gets larger.

Where is fat located?

Fat, or adipose tissue, is found several places in our body. Generally, fat is found underneath your skin (the subcutaneous fat). There is also some on top of each of your kidneys. Other locations depend on your gender, and your genetic makeup.

  • An adult male tends to carry body fat in his chest, abdomen and buttocks, producing an apple shape.
  • An adult woman tends to carry fat in her breasts, hips, waist and buttocks, creating a pear shape.
  • The difference in fat location comes from our sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone.
  • In addition to fat covering major body parts, some is stored in the liver, and even smaller amounts in muscle.

Our bodies contain two types of fat cells:

  • White fat – important in energy metabolism, heat insulation and mechanical cushioning;
  • Brown cat – found mostly in newborn babies, between the shoulders, important for thermogenesis (making heat).

How fat enters your body

When you eat food that contains fat, which is mostly triglycerides. Breakdown of these fats first starts in our mouth by enzymes in the saliva. More fat breakdown occurs in the stomach and  then continues in your intestines. There, the following happens:

1.     In the small intestine, the triglyceride (fat) droplets get mixed with bile salts produced by the gall bladder in a process called emulsification. This mixture breaks up the large droplets of triglycerides into smaller droplets called micelles. This break-up will increase the triglycerides’ surface area.

2.    The pancreas then releases/secretes am enzyme called Lipases that attack the surface of the micelles and break the triglycerides into monoglycerides and fatty acids.

3.    The monoglycerides and fatty acids can then be absorbed into the cells lining the intestine.

4.    In the intestinal cells, the monoglycerides and fatty acids are recharged into fat (triglyceride) molecules with a protein coating called chylomicrons. This protein coating makes the fat dissolve more easily in water.

5.     Chylomicrons do not go directly into the blood stream because they are too big to pass through the wall of the capillary. They are then released into the lymphatic system and are carried through the lymphatic vessel system to the thoracic duct which merges with the veins. At that point, the chylomicrons pass into the bloodstream.

6. Chylomicrons travel through the bloodstream to the liver to make triglycerides and are packaged up as Lipoproteins and released into the bloodstream to be sent to fat cells for storage.

7. Lipoproteins in the bloodstream stimulate the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin stimulates an enzyme called Lipoprotein Lipase, which is found in the walls of blood vessels of fat cells. They break down the Lipoproteins into smaller fatty acids and monoglycerides. Then Insulin acts as a key to stimulate fat cells to open their door and allow the fatty acids and monoglycerides to enter the fat cells. In the fat cell, they are reassembled as tryglicerides and are stored as fat reserves, making us fatter.

Of the three macronutrients, fats are the easiest to store in adipose cells, as they require minimum packaging to enter the fat cells, and the fat cells have infinite ability to enlarge to accommodate fat storage.

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John Robert Cardillo

bodybuilding champion

A Canadian champion who went on to win many bodybuilding competitions including the Junior Ontario and Junior Canadian Championships.

John Robert Cardillo

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