Fat is described as excess energy stored away in our body. So, why isn’t it easy to get rid of it? With articles promoting “fat-free diets,” gyms endorsing quick “fat loss,” and food products promising not to lead to fat gain, it would seem like losing it is a cinch.
The answer lies in the connotation attached to fat. Turns out, it isn’t just an “unsightly” blob of energy. Fat surrounds our organs and protects them from shock due to our movements. Fat under the skin helps regulate our body temperature, especially when it is cold. It’s no wonder that our bodies hold on to it.
In short, fat is not the enemy. Too much of it is. Here are a few other things about fat that you may not have known.
1. Losing Fat Can Make Us Hungry
Fat tissues release a hormone called leptin which is our hunger hormone. The more the leptin reaches our brain, the more satiated we feel.1
As we begin to lose weight and the fat that comes with it, we have less leptin being produced in our body leading us to be more hungry. Evolutionarily, this response was meant to help us eat more to survive, but in today’s times, it simply makes our weight loss journey harder.
What can you do? Feed the hunger, but feed it with healthy foods. Go for foods that have a few to no calorie inputs but loads of nutrients.
2. Fat Builds More Fat
Just like any other tissue, our fat cells need blood supply to survive. And, as we begin to accumulate fat in our body, new blood capillaries are formed to help sustain this new tissue.
These capillaries then provide fat with nutrients and oxygen. They also look after the waste removal process. In doing so, they make way for a channel through which extra calories can be stored as fat. This leads to a vicious cycle of fat that supports the buildup of more fat.2
3. Starvation Can Lead To Fat Accumulation
Imagine a situation in which you haven’t eaten for several days and don’t know when and where your next meal might be. Wouldn’t you be so hungry you could eat a horse?
This is the state of panic we send our bodies into when we skip meals or don’t eat enough.3
As a result, the body comes to the conclusion that it needs to store energy to help you survive. So, it begins to accumulate more and more of whatever you eat in the form of fat.
In order to avoid this, eat small, frequent, and healthy meals. This will help you decrease appetite and fat, even if you end up eating the same amount of calories as you did before.4
4. Fat Loss Is Linked To Metabolism
The fat loss journey is complicated further by the fact that fat is responsible for maintaining our basal metabolic rate. Leptin has a role to play here as well. With fat loss and lowered leptin production, the efficiency with which muscles metabolize energy also gets lowered.5
Hence, it is important to build our lean muscle mass simultaneously while losing fat to see maximum results. This will offset the lowered metabolism due to lower leptin simply by having more muscle in the first place.6
5. Fat Cannot Be Lost Overnight
We know that there’s no way to magically wake up one day with less fat than the night before. But, we hope against all hope anyway. This is why most of our weight loss plans do not last beyond a few weeks. But, you don’t have to beat yourself up about it.
Remind yourself that it takes months of consistent work to lose fat and build muscle mass. Say no to weekly crash diets which will only result in you gaining back all the weight you’d lost.
And, sometimes it’s hormones, age, and genetics at play. Research shows that as we age, we lost lean muscle and strength in a process called atrophy. In fact the amount of body fat we carry goes up steadily after the age of 30.7
This doesn’t mean that you’ll never lose weight. Consistent planning is key. So, it is best that you start with small and achievable goals. For example, replace your evening snack with one fruit or a fresh juice without sugar. Do this consistently, make it a habit, and then proceed to make another lifestyle change. Doing too much at once can get overwhelming, not to mention it could set you up to lose motivation, not fat.
Now that you’re with all this knowledge about fat, what changes would you like make today to see better results with fat loss?
|↑1||Farooqi, I. Sadaf, Susan A. Jebb, Gill Langmack, Elizabeth Lawrence, Christopher H. Cheetham, Andrew M. Prentice, Ieuan A. Hughes, Mark A. McCamish, and Stephen O’rahilly. “Effects of recombinant leptin therapy in a child with congenital leptin deficiency.” New England Journal of Medicine 341, no. 12 (1999): 879-884.|
|↑2||Nishimura, Satoshi, Ichiro Manabe, Mika Nagasaki, Yumiko Hosoya, Hiroshi Yamashita, Hideo Fujita, Mitsuru Ohsugi et al. “Adipogenesis in obesity requires close interplay between differentiating adipocytes, stromal cells, and blood vessels.” Diabetes 56, no. 6 (2007): 1517-1526.|
|↑3||Hirsch, Jules, and Paul W. Han. “Cellularity of rat adipose tissue: effects of growth, starvation, and obesity.” Journal of Lipid Research 10, no. 1 (1969): 77-82.|
|↑4||Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, circadian rhythms, and time-restricted feeding in healthy lifespan.” Cell metabolism 23, no. 6 (2016): 1048-1059.|
|↑5||Rosenbaum, Michael, Rochelle Goldsmith, Daniel Bloomfield, Anthony Magnano, Louis Weimer, Steven Heymsfield, Dympna Gallagher, Laurel Mayer, Ellen Murphy, and Rudolph L. Leibel. “Low-dose leptin reverses skeletal muscle, autonomic, and neuroendocrine adaptations to maintenance of reduced weight.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 115, no. 12 (2005): 3579.|
|↑6||Hernandez, Teri L., John M. Kittelson, Christopher K. Law, Lawrence L. Ketch, Nicole R. Stob, Rachel C. Lindstrom, Ann Scherzinger, Elizabeth R. Stamm, and Robert H. Eckel. “Fat redistribution following suction lipectomy: defense of body fat and patterns of restoration.” Obesity 19, no. 7 (2011): 1388-1395.|
|↑7||Aging changes in body shape. US National Library Of Medicine.|