How is fat stored in the body?
Fat is stored all over the body in fat cells called adipocytes. The individual number of fat cells is determined early in life. A person has developed their total number of fat cells often by late adolescence. Although it is possible to increase the number of fat cells during adulthood, it is not likely.
Fat cells increase and decrease in size depending on
how much fat they are storing. When someone gains weight
these cells get bigger and when weight is lost the cells
shrink in size. You cannot reduce the number of fat
cells in your body. We also have no control over which
cells decide to release their fat for energy during
exercise. In other words, performing leg lifts will not
stimulate fat to be released from the fat cells in the
legs. Performing abdominal crunches will not help you
lose fat in and around just your stomach. Fat from all
over the body will be used to fuel your exercise.
Stephen D. Ball, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Jo Britt-Rankin, Ph.D., Associate Dean, State Specialist, Associate Professor, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Candance Gabel, M.S. R.D., Assistant Program Director, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Thursday, December 04, 2008