Here are 12 facts you should know about body fat.

1     The Number of Fat Cells in Adulthood Will Never Get Less

On average the human body has 10 to 30 billion fat cells. The number can rise or lower in childhood, but once we reach adulthood, that number becomes the minimal number a person will ever have.

2     We Can Get More Fat Cells As Adults

A little weight gain doesn’t always mean more fat cells; only bigger fat cells. However, if you gain a LOT of weight, you WILL acquire more fat cells!

Obesity can mean up to 100 billion fat cells. Exercise and healthy eating will not make fat cells go away.

Paulo de Tarso Meneghel, CreativeCommons

Instead, the amount of fat in the cells will be reduced, shrinking their size. So even if you’re obese, you can still slim down.

3     Three Types of Body Fat

The first type is brown fat. It stores calories and burns energy. The second type is just below the skin, called subcutaneous fat.

It’s harmless in that it has no direct negative impact on cardiovascular health or glucose metabolism.

However, enough subcutaneous fat can literally weigh down on the knees, leading to joint degeneration.

Enough subcutaneous fat will also impair mobility and can lead to shortness of breath and low back pain, not to mention put a 24/7 mechanical strain on the heart.

The third type is visceral fat, which surrounds organs. Often called “internal fat,” it’s significantly linked to a higher risk of disease including that affecting the heart.

4     We All Need Fat

We have fat. It serves several vital purposes such as keeping the body warm.

But too much of an essential body tissue can mean very bad things such as type 2 diabetes, difficulty getting pregnant, complications with delivery, impaired mobility, lack of stamina, some cancers and heart disease.

Too much water can kill you too. It’s important to keep things in perspective.

Too little fat, as in the case of anorexia nervosa, can spell problems as well.

5     Body Fat Percentage vs. BMI

Body fat percentage can be deceivingly high in “skinny fat” people, and deceivingly low in “thick” people who train hard and heavy with weights.

Check out the chart below, according to the American Council on Exercise.

A personal trainer can calculate your body fat percentage with skin-fold calipers.

The more sites the fold is taken, the more accurate will be the reading. Ideally you’ll want a seven-site reading, but a four-site reading will also give you a good indication of your BF percentage.

BMI can be deceiving, since bodybuilders and other athletes can have BMIs equal to that of same-height, same-age overweight people. See the depiction below.

However, BMI is used by doctors because the calculation (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) can be done in a second by feeding the information into a computer.

Studies that link a slightly “high” BMI with a health benefit do NOT take into consideration the body composition of the study subjects.

6     No Choosing, Do BOTH

That is, if you want to bust belly fat, you’ll get best results with both aerobic and strength training workouts.

Shutterstock/New Africa

Hours and hours on cardio machines or walks in the park but still carrying a lot of belly blubber? Start picking up heavy things!

7     Fat Gain with Age

There are too many lean “old” people walking around to justify the statement that getting fat is an unpreventable outcome of getting old.

Though as we age, we have to work harder to keep off excess weight, this doesn’t mean we have to settle for this excess weight.

Shutterstock/Mladen Zivkovic

Just because you were able to “eat everything in sight” in your 20s and now are on the hefty side doesn’t mean you can’t reverse this situation with the right approach to diet, aerobic exercise and strength training.

8     Fatty Foods

Eating a lot of nuts and fatty fish has never made a person obese. Some foods contain “good” fats including olive oil, almonds and seeds.

But when you get right down to it, the formula for weight loss is calories in vs. calories out.

Though certain diets can expedite weight loss, you will still lose weight by cutting portions and including cardio and weightlifting in your plan.

Good fats are mono-, poly- and unsaturated, and bad fats are saturated and trans- types.

9     Cellulite

Leaner women can get this, which is subcutaneous fat that doesn’t deposit in the most aesthetically pleasing way.

Shutterstock/Sorn340 Images

If you hate your cellulite, you may want to take up intense lower body strength training and see what happens after six months.

10     Crunches and Sit-ups

Oh give it up already if the only reason you do these is to reduce the fat in your middle.

The muscles these target are not big enough to yield a fat-scorching effect throughout the entire body OR locally.

To shear off fat in the belly and legs you must combine proper diet with an overall strength training regimen that focuses on large muscle groups.

Intense workouts (don’t forget aerobics) will cause energy deficits, leading to the mobilization of fat cells to burn energy for recovery from the workouts! In short: faster resting metabolism.

11     Those Larger-than-Life Instagram Influencers

Don’t let the bombardment of very big Instagram influencers in seductive poses trick you into believing that your heart and blood vessels won’t mind a lot of excess body fat.


They can come up with all the most philosophical statements in the world, but FACTS ARE FACTS.

Some morbidly obese women have reeled in so many gullible, disenchanted followers under their spell that companies have generously paid them to advertise their products in their postings: the monetization of morbid obesity!

Just because some women have made money off of their obesity doesn’t make it any less hazardous to their health.

12     Youth Is an Amazing Protector

Some women who are at least 100 pounds overweight seem to move around quite well.

It’s no coincidence that all are in their 20s and 30s. Such influencers need to look ahead 20 years and ask if they’ll be just as mobile.

If they have fat mothers or aunts, they need to take a good hard look at them, because that’s likely where they’ll be in 20 or so years.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.