Why You Can’t Lose Your Love Handles: Fat Cells

oskar faarkrog fat cells

What happens with most skinny-fat guys who get into fitness is that we believe that as long as we eat clean and train hard, we can look exactly like the guy who started out skinny with a flat waist and ab-definition.

…And that’s partly true.

Everyone can achieve ab definition as long as they move more and eat less.

However, certain groups of people have to put in a lot more effort to maintain a lean physique. (Even when training, diet and supplementation are all dialled in).

One of these groups is those of us who have been skinny-fat or fat throughout all our teenage years.

If you’re like me and a lot of other guys who were skinny-fat or fat during your teenage years, you’ve probably noticed that you re-gain fat VERY easily.

One bad meal is enough to go from having ab-definition to love handles.

Maintaining a lean physique is hard and requires a lot of work compared to guys who were lean while growing up.

Why? Because we have more fat cells in the lower waist and hip area.

Fat cells are like balloons.

They are always ready to be filled up when you eat too much.

Fat Cells Explanation

So guys who have a high amount of fat cells, gain fat easily.

These additional fat cells make it VERY difficult to get fully visible abs and even more difficult to maintain that look.

The Bad News: The Total Amount of Fat Cells In Your Body Can’t Decrease Once You’re An Adult

The total amount of fat cells in your body fluctuates throughout your childhood and early-mid teenage years.

Once you’re about 16-18 years old, the total amount of fat cells in your body cannot decrease.

You can do all the training an dieting in the world but it won’t change the amount of fat cells you have in the body.

This is similar to guys who developed puffy nipples during their early teenage years.

If you don’t do something about it early, they become permanent because the body “settles for a look”.

It decides how it wants you to look for the rest of your life.

I personally have a lot of fat cells in my lower waist and hips.

The first time I ever got lean was in November 2012 at age 20.

This was after 2 years of hard training, dieting and shredding 60 pounds of fat.

Skinny-Fat Oskar Faarkrog 60 Pound Fat Loss

Today, I still have to watch what I eat, otherwise my waist blows up.

To give you some perspective, last time I went out and ate whatever I wanted and had a few drinks I gained 5 pounds and 1 inch around my lower waist.

That’s A LOT of fat gain from one night.

Before going out, I had ab-definition and looked very fit.

I also ate clean food the whole day, supplemented with Omega-3 and Greens and trained hard in the gym for a bit over an hour.

The next morning, after going out, I had love handles and when I walked I could feel the sides of my waist bouncing up and down.

It took me an entire week of hard work to lose that side-fat and get back in shape.

In other words, ONE night messed up an entire week of progress.

If I go “all out” just for ONE night a week like most other guys my age and eat whatever I want and have a few drinks, there’s no way I can make progress in my training and I can’t stay lean.

What To Do If You Have A Lot of Fat Cells?

If you’re still in your early or mid teens, it’s not too late and I REALLY urge you to take action to shred fat.

You can start making lifestyle changes that support fat loss and thereby decrease the amount of fat cells you have for the rest of your life.

A good start is my free bodyweight training program and the START HERE page on this website.

If you’re a parent with a chubby kid, I also recommend you have them start their fat loss as soon as possible because it will make their life so much easier later on!

But what about those of us who aren’t teenagers any more and who have a lot of fat cells?

We just have to work with what we have.

For me, this means that I do my absolute best to eat healthy and achieve a lean physique, but I also have realistic expectations.

If your body works in a similar way to mine, you will find it VERY difficult to maintain fully visible abs and you might want to settle for a more sustainable look.

A look that you can maintain year around without having to starve yourself and dealing with low energy levels that come from overly strict diets.

Your daily energy levels and overall health are MUCH more important than the way your stomach looks.

“But Oskar, I’ve been fat all my life and now I want to have shredded abs. I need them to feel good about myself.”

You don’t have to measure progress by how ripped your stomach is. Especially if you have a lot of fat cells there and it’s incredibly hard for you to get ripped and stay ripped.

Making progress is key behind feeling accomplished on a daily basis, but progress is relative and you can choose HOW you measure progress.

One of the best bodybuilding champions ever, Arnold Schwarzenegger, NEVER had a 6-pack but he still beat all his competition because his arms, chest and back were better.

Arnold Schwarzenegger 0

Now, I’m not saying that you should compare yourself to Arnold, but the point is that it’s much better to play to your strengths, or at least focus on things that you can improve on consistently while feeling good in the process.

You can focus your attention on building enough strength to do 10 pull ups.

Or adding size to your arms.

Or building a wide back.

The options are endless.

Feeling great on a daily basis largely depends on progress and the way you measure progress depends on what YOU decide to focus on.

Interesting topics like fat cells (and much more) will be covered in the SKINNY-FAT TRANSFORMATION BOOK (coming January 2017).

Photo 1 credit: Health Central


Read my guide the 2 Phases of a Skinny-Fat Transformation:


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  1. I once asked a gym instructor (who had a 4 year degree in sports science – not the ones that last like 1 year and then call themselves “profesionals in sports science) about the issue of fat cells never disappearing.

    He told me that they CAN “disappear” (actually disappear is a very vague word, a more correct word would be dissenthisized) but they take a lot of hard work, a lot of cardio plus weight training and near perfect nutrition with lots of veggies and lean meats. Also, and that is where the words “hard work” come into play, he told me that the only actual way to dissenthisize the fat cells is to stay at the same bf% for a lot of time. The logic goes that the body is always tries to reach homeostasis, and those extra fat cells use energy to “stay alive”

    The body then realizes that those fat cells are getting “hungry” which is the reason why a lot of once fat people always have food cravings during their initial transformation from fat to less fat or skinny. But, if they manage to push through this hunger and not feed those fat cells, and actually manage to stay at a reasonable bodyfat, eventually the body realizes that those fat cells are nothing more than just a calorie source that burns calories and does nothing more “useful” and ends up burning them up.

    So why does common science say those fat cells never disappear? well because of the reason that most people actually never give them a reason to disappear in the first place. Most people who embark on their fitness journey stop working out after some time, and even if they manage to stay the usually have very bad diets that feed the fat cells.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you for your comment

      It’s interesting with a new perspective but you have to keep in mind I’ve been relatively lean for over 4 years now and maintained the same weight during that time.

      I still find it very easy to fill up the fat cells when I overeat

  2. It is impossible to gain 5lbs of fat in one day. 1lb of fat is approximately 3500 calories. You would have to eat your 2000 calorie daily allotment plus an extra 17,500 calories for a total of just under 20,000 calories. Even if you drank your calories in pure sugar form, your body wouldn’t be able to absorb anywhere near that in one day.

    Anyone who gains 5lbs around the waiste in one day probably has ascites (water retention) from end-stage liver disease.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      If you read carefully I didn’t say I gained 5 pounds of fat. I said I gained 5 pounds and 1 inch around the waist.

      Of course some of that gain was water retention.

      However, what matters is that I gained a lot of body-fat. I could feel it and see it in the mirror. I basically lost more than a week’s fat loss progress.

      Also, if you believe that fat gains are a result of Daily Caloric Intake then you may be trying to oversimplify something that is a whole lot more complicated.

      Your body doesn’t work like a 24 hour machine that resets each day and Calories are just a measure of heat – nothing else. Calories do not determine changes in your body-composition – there are too many factors in play so you can’t simplify it down to a formula that measures heat.

      • Oskar i can’t buy a pull up bar right now, can you recommend me the best exercises who worked for you with dumbells for lats and shoulders?

  3. Hi Oskar,I have a good 6 pack,but my obliques need trimming,Im 58, do bodyweight exercises only,I walk 45 – 60 minutes a day, Is there anything eles you would suggest? Your website is great,keep up the great work.

  4. harshjeewani says:

    sir It is possible to gain one inch of fat in one day !

  5. “The Bad News: The Total Amount of Fat Cells In Your Body Can’t Decrease Once You’re An Adult”

    Care to share a scientific proof?

  6. Great article Oskar,

    Once you have fat cells they are very hard to get rid of. You can shrink them by using the stored fat as energy if you diet. But the more fat cells you have, the more prone you are to maintain fat on your physique.

    A low sugar diet can help reduce fat cell size. Eating just enough carbs to keep energy levels up without storing calories extra as fat is optimal to maintain a healthy weight and body fat percentage.

    Excellent insight as always. Thanks for sharing and enlightening trainers in a world were we are bombarded by b.s. that leads to unrealistic expectations.

    You don’t need perfection, just become the best version of yourself!


  7. sir .I heard about the new tecnology to get rid of fat cell permanently which is called coolsculpting.plz explain about this tecnology

  8. Hey Oscar, it’s a sad fact that you can’t get rid your puffy nipples once you’re after puberty. I used to be skinny fat during puberty years but not anymore (you have helped a lot) the only problem is that my puffy nipples are not gone completely. The question is, do they affect my hormonal production?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      They don’t affect your hormonal production but having them likely means that you had a hormonal balance and I suggest you get a hormonal panel done just to be on the safe side

  9. Oskar, another enlightening article!

    I have a quick question tho, i am currently stuck on 15% body fat and no matter what i do – training hard in the gym, adding cardio, eat clean etc cant seem to go lower than that.

    My abs definition is out but the layer of fat on the lower waist is still there.

    I can send you a picture Oskar just to get your opinion.

    Thanks for all the help!

  10. harshjeewani says:

    Sir how can you gain 5 pounds in one day!orr oit could be the water weight

  11. Great article Oskar!
    Whew I was beginning to think that I was the only one cursed with this crap. I don’t drink alcohol and I’ve cut sodas out of my life as the liquid calories do more harm than good. I’d lose 3 lbs and then re-gain it. I waist is around 34 inches (chubby at the bottom but yet I can see the outline of my rib cage and a bit of the separation line in the middle).

    I can do max out 15 to 17 chin ups. I do 3 sets of 12 normally so I’m hardly unfit but I still have this belly sticking out unless I suck it in or I’m wearing clothes (then it’s invisible). What is this madness?

    One a side note… I’ve make better progress when I eat more because I can do several workouts throughout the day. When I ate less I looked worse because I lost muscle as well and even a mere 8 pull ups left me feeling a bit of vertigo.

  12. Great, Oskar. I’ve been fat all my childhood and i get really skinny when i made 16 years, when i was 17 i probably have less than 10% bodyfat but no visible abs because of shit genectis for muscle. Now i was 23 and i gain and loss weight easily if i want. My question is, did you think i have a lot of fat cells ? i wake up with a very slim body but when i eat carbs i get limp and swelling.

    And other question: You can suggest something for me to maintain the body that i wake up all the day? And great article man, you are the best in fitness industry.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Wow man thanks for the compliment.

      I do think you might have a lot of fat cells but I can’t be 100% certain.

      – no alcohol
      – don’t eat meals that are high in sugar and fat at the same time.
      – eat smaller meals and train early in the day
      – get your sleep

  13. You’re creating a book Oskaar?

    Fantastic, will be delighted to support it.

    Don’t think I can afford coaching currently (I’m starting over health wise, lots of stress so I am at year 0 again) but want to have some way of repaying you for all the advice you’ve put on here for free over the years.

    Really man, the gyno and testosterone advice alone help so many guys with same problems.

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