Weight-Loss Story: A Day in the Life of a Fat Cell

A talkative bit of blubber exposes the surprising ways we steer the body wrong.

By Marit Mitchell from Reader's Digest Canada

Weight-Loss Story: A Day in the Life of a Fat CellNephron via Wikimedia Commons
Hear that? The Body’s opening a can of soda as he digs in to his low-fat microwave lasagna. He’s trying to cut back, shed a few pounds—and hey, if you’re trying to lose weight, it makes sense to eat less fat. But have you ever tried lasagna without butter or oil? Tastes like cardboard. So there’s extra salt and sugar to compensate, and it’s still easy for me to convert some of that sugar to fat and squirrel it away. He has no idea!

The poor sap. Back in college, when The Body skied or cycled almost every weekend, his weight was under control. His diet had a lot less sugar, and his brain listened to my leptin warnings, quashing his hunger whenever I managed to plump up. I’d get a little ahead after a big weekend of beer and wings, inflate a tad. Then the next day he’d eat a bagel and apple for breakfast and jump on his bike. His muscles burned up all the handy glucose, and I’d be forced to break down some of my precious self into fatty acids and glycerol. I’d give glycerol to the liver, which would convert it into glucose to burn, and the fatty acids would go straight to the muscles for energy. I’d deflate and hunker down, waiting for his next binge.

Now he polishes off the lasagna tray in six bites and swivels back to his computer, clicking and clacking through the afternoon. When he heaves himself from his chair to head home at 5 p.m., it’s the hardest his heart has had to work all day. I’m not worried, though—there’s plenty of fuel in his muscles to provide energy, so I never have to offer up any of myself to help. I’m lying low, laughing, confident I’ll never be called on to liquidate my stash.

I get to relax during the hour-long commute home. What will I have for dinner tonight? Fried chicken? Burgers? But when The Body sags into his chair at the dinner table, he sees grilled chicken and salad. Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers… and what the heck is that, toasted pine nuts?! Oil-and-vinegar dressing, not even creamy ranch. Unfortunately, the salad’s fiber slows his digestion of the sugary dinner roll he snags from the basket. What gives? he asks. We’re eating healthy, says his wife. No more junk for dinner.

This could be bad for me, but I know The Body, and true to form, he cracks a beer. Sweet relief! I can score fat out of a beer as well as a can of soda. The ethanol it contains is a derivative of sugar, so some of the boozy goodness goes through the liver and converts to fat. After dinner, he takes the dog out for a walk. Thankfully, a casual stroll won’t exert enough energy to dip into my storage. Even better, when he gets home, he plops down to watch the game. Conditioned to snack at night, he grabs a Rice Krispies square, a tiny sugar boost for me. He slides into bed around midnight, hoping for his usual six hours of sleep. While The Body snoozes, I get to relax too. He doesn’t rely on my stores during the middle of the night, so I’m waiting for morning and already pulsating. I know his lack of sleep will make him stressed, hungry, and more likely to crave sugary, high-carb foods. Mmm, maybe doughnuts for breakfast?

  • Your Comments

    • Kayla

      I was recently told that I was Pre Diabetes. This gives me much insight on some of the things going on in fat cells.. :) Great article.

    • Tanya S

      Great article!
      It’s true that when ever I stop eating sugar, I lose weight and feel really good. Water helps a lot because I feel full after drinking lots of water.

    • http://www.adaptamed.com/emr-news/ EMR Technician

      Nice article. A lot of Americans right now is Obese due to fast foods and high sugar content food. And also Diabetes patients is increasing. Where can they find more resources and more guides to help them avoid this things? 

    • Daphne Davis

      I have an older sister. Alex Clark has a younger brother. I was born in 1987. My older sister was born in 1985. I have fluctuated. My mom gained weight. I have also gained weight. Someday I will have children of my own. Alex Clark is an average-build woman. Cassie Toe is also average build. Cassie Toe has a younger brother, Sylvester Toe Jr.