Lipogenesis – The Fat Storage Mechanism

If we take a look at our ancestors, it’s easy to see that they were not fat.  In fact, it was actually tough for them to get fat! And look where we stand today. Nowadays we only see more and more overweight and obese people around us. The incidence of obesity has grown at an alarming rate all over the world. In fact, 7 out of 10 people in India today are suffering from obesity. Clearly, if we are going down the wrong path, it is time we stop and analyse what this lifestyle disease named obesity is, and body process that actually causes fat to get stored in copious amounts in the body – a process called Lipogenesis.

Lipogenesis is one of the key factors that leads to fat storage in the body. Lots of people often talk about their stored body fat and it is a common complaint that fat has been stored in “certain areas” of their body . Women store fat more in the lower areas and in the abdomen area, while men store more fat in the upper torso area. Let us find out how the fat is stored and what causes it to get deposited in specific areas.

How does fat get into cells – the action of LPL

When our blood sugar levels rise, our body produces the hormone Insulin. The job of insulin is to get the blood sugar levels back down.The spike in insulin (caused by increased blood sugar) leads to the stimulation of LPL (lipo-protein lipase). LPL is an enzyme responsible for driving fat into different locations in the body.

Now, when LPL is stimulated, it transforms triglycerides into free fatty acids inside the cell in the presence of glucose. This is important in order to enable the essential fatty acids to reach intra-cellular regions where they are used for numerous cell-building processes. However, what this means is that the action of LPL basically stores ‘fat’ inside a fat cell. This basic process of fat storage is also called Lipogenesis. This is an easy term to recall if you remember that the prefix ‘lipo’ refers to lipid, which is another name for fat, and ‘genesis’ refers to creation, so Lipogenesis is literally the process of lipid creation.

Role of Carbohydrates in Lipogenesis

Unless you are following a low-carb diet or a keto diet plan, the bulk of your daily diet likely comes from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in a lot of foods, like rice, pulses, bread, pasta, vegetables, and fruits. When you eat carbs, your body gets to work breaking them down into simple sugars, such as glucose, which easily passes into your bloodstream. The first thing your body will do with blood glucose is burn it up for energy. But what happens when you overdo your carbohydrates, and extra glucose is produced from all that extra burgers and pasta?

The extra glucose that your body doesn’t need for immediate energy will go into storage. Some amount will be stored as glycogen, which is a stored form of glucose in your muscles and liver. Once this storage area is filled up, the remaining glucose gets converted to fat, which is essentially the long-term energy storage option in your body. Simply put, when you load up your plate with all the fries and pasta that your body doesn’t really need, you ending up loading fat in different parts of your body!

If Carbohydrates were cars…

Let’s further simplify with an example that we can all relate to. We eat carbs. It gets converted to glucose in the body.

Let is assume glucose is a car looking for a parking space. The car that arrives first gets the best parking space. The cars that arrive later get parked further away, that is, in the muscles and liver in the glycogen parking lot. Now when that parking space has been filled as well, any additional cars that arrive have to get parked into a long term energy storage spot, that is the body’s fat cells, via the road of Lipogenesis. Accessing this parking lot is easy, but getting your cars out from there is a mammoth task!

Clearly then, we all need to understand how many cars we can park without overcrowding and choking our available parking spaces. Cars are fun and fancy, but just like in the real world the stress today is on walking instead of taking your four wheels out, the same is true for your body as well. And if you intend to keep your body health and stay away from a dreaded lifestyle disease like Obesity, keep a watch on what you’re putting into the parking lots of your body.

Moral of the story: Don’t buy too many cars, if you don’t have space to park them.


Article Credits – Anmol Sachdeva