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Sizing up Fat

Our bodies store fat in adipose cells, a connective tissue that stockpiles fats from the foods we eat and makes them available later when we need energy. Found under the skin and around internal organs, these cells keep the body warm and provide soft tissue between the body’s inner machinery—but you can have too much of a good thing. Although the number of adipose cells in our bodies doesn’t change much, their size can. Immature adipose cells contain hardly any fat at all, but adult ones can become swollen with glistening oil droplets, making them some of the largest cells in the body. When we consume more energy than we burn off—especially when the energy comes from foods rich in saturated fats and carbohydrates—it causes adipose cells to soak up more fat and grow in size. On the other hand, exercise or diet restrictions can have the opposite effect, shrinking adipose cells, and thus, our waistlines.