The stubborn female fat cell

by Kellie Dye

For women, there is not a lot of good news when you compare the female fat cell to the male fat cell. Compared to men, women have larger fat cells, more fat storing hormones and our fat cells are more resistant to weight loss.

Puberty, pregnancy and the transition to menopause are three stages that increase our fat cells ability to store fat. Basically, women’s fat cells are more stubborn. Our fat cells love to store fat. The harder we try to diet, the more stubborn our fat cells become. The difference in the composition of our fat cells compared to men is why we lose weight much slower than men. Life is so unfair. To top it all off, there are so many things we do as women that make our fat cells even more stubborn. Here are some examples.

If you want to set your fat cells up to store fat even more, just go on a crash diet. Try to starve your fat cells, and they will accumulate more fat storing enzymes. Once you can’t stand it anymore and you fall off the crash diet, your fat cells will be armed and ready to store fat.

Another way to make your fat cells more stubborn is to skip meals or go for long periods without eating. Like the crash diet example, if you go too long without eating, your fat cells will accumulate more fat storing enzymes. Then when you do finally eat, it’s very hard to practice portion control because you let yourself get too hungry. Once you start eating, it will be hard to stop. Your fat cells will be ready to store fat from all of the extra calories consumed in that meal.

Eating the majority of calories at night promotes fat storage as well. There is no proven golden rule about when to stop eating at night. The best advice is to eat according to the natural rhythms of your metabolism. You should ideally eat about 70 percent of your calories within the first 12 hours of your day, leaving 30 percent of your calories for the dinner meal and a snack if desired.

Keep sitting, don’t exercise and let your muscles go to waste — another sure fire way to make your fat cells more stubborn. The only way to increase your fat burning ability is to exercise and weight train. Building muscle is the best defense against a lower metabolism and stubborn fat cells as we age.

It’s not hopeless. You CAN overcome your stubborn female fat cells. It comes down to common sense, not fad diets and quick fixes. Your best defense against your stubborn fat cells is to eat sensibly, avoid super low calorie crash diets, spread your calories out rather than eat super-sized meals, eat the majority of your calories within the first 12 hours of the day and stay active with cardio exercise and weight training.


Kellie Dye, a registered and licensed dietitian, is the wellness coordinator at the Conway Regional Health and Fitness Center. Send your diet and nutrition questions to Kellie at [email protected]. Frequently asked and pertinent questions will be addressed in future articles in 501 LIFE.