Where Does The Fat Go?

By Martin Bolduc

As you go about your fat loss journey, if you often find yourself wondering just where the fat goes, you aren’t alone.  Many people often pose the question of what happens as you burn off body fat.  Do fat cells release their stored fat as you burn them off and remain empty or do the cells themselves actually disappear?

Let’s take a closer look at what happens as you burn fat so that you can gain a full understanding of the fat loss process.

Q: When we lose weight, do fat cells shrink?

MB: When fat loss begins to take place, which is due to fewer calories being consumed than being burned off throughout the course of the day, the body is going to be releasing stored triglycerides from the fat cells for use as energy, causing the fat cells to shrink down, as mentioned in the Human Fat Cell Lipolysis journal article.  As this fat loss takes place, you may notice your fat cells becoming squishier to the touch as they are emptied of their contents.  These cells will never disappear so the chance of them expanding again if you consume too much food will always still be there.

Q: Do we have the capacity for more fat cells?

MB: Yes, fat cell hyperplasia is a very real thing, as noted in the Journal of Applied Physiology.  The body can start to produce new fat cells as excess food is consumed and periods of inactivity are undertaken, which then means staying lean in the future may become much more difficult.

This is a big reason why maintaining a regular exercise program and watching what you eat is critical to long-term weight control. While you can diet down and lose the contents of your fat cells, once those fat cells are created, they can never be destroyed without resorting to surgical measures.

My last article can be view here: Burning Belly Fat: Best way to quicken fat loss!

Martin Bolduc, CPT, ACE, CFNS
Lean Body Challenge Champion

** Martin Bolduc is  the winner of the Lean Body Challenge 2008. Martin is a Certified Personal Trainer ACE , Certified Fitness Nutritionist Specialist and a natural bodybuilder. Martin helps hundreds of clients to reach their goals.


Arner, P. (2005). Human fat cell lipolysis: Biochemistry, regulation, and clinical role. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Vol. 19, Issue 4.

Roberts, C. (2006). Inactivity and fat cell hyperplasia: fat chance? Journal of Applied Physiology. Vol 102. No. 4.