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Q&A:where does your fat go when you lose weight?

Q&A:where does your fat go when you lose weight?

You have lost pounds after a successful diet, but now you wonder:where does that fat go when you lose weight?

dr. Mariëtte Boon, internist in training at the Leiden University Medical Center and co-author of the book Vet important : “There are two types of body fat:brown and white fat. The latter is the kind we all know and want to get rid of. White fat consists of white fat cells, a kind of sacs that fill with fat. It's all over your body; under your skin and between your organs.

On average, a person has about fourteen kilograms of white fat. The amount of brown fat in our body is much less, about three hundred grams. This fat is like cushions in your neck and along large blood vessels. The cells in brown fat look very different and are actually small energy factories. They can burn fats and sugars into heat.”

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The usefulness of fat

“The biological use of brown fat is to keep you warm. When you're exposed to cold, you shiver and chatter to make heat, but that takes a lot of energy. Brown fat is 'on' within a few minutes and makes you warm. If your body temperature is too low, your brain signals the brown fat to burn. By standing in the cold for two hours a day – 17 degrees is already sufficient – ​​you can increase the amount of brown fat in your body and thus increase your fat burning.

Our white fat also has a purpose:it serves as a storage place for fat and is therefore indispensable. In addition to sugars, your organs also use fats as fuel.”


“When organs use fat as fuel, the fat is burned in a chemical reaction into energy-rich substances, water and carbon dioxide molecules, which you exhale. Your organs use the energy-rich substances to function, but they also ensure that your muscles contract. The water circulates in the blood, between the cells and part of it you pee out.

When you burn more calories than you take in, for example through exercise and healthy eating, you release more fat from your white fat and it is burned in the various organs. As a result, your white fat literally gets smaller. You can also lose weight thanks to brown fat:fats from white fat are burned into heat by brown fat.

In short:when you lose weight, your fat is converted into heat, energy-rich substances, water and carbon dioxide.”

Text:Maike Abma