Journal of Trainology



March 2021; Vol. 10, No. 1: Pages 2-4

How does adipose tissue fat content change after a weight loss intervention?

Takashi Abe, Robert S. Thiebaud, Jeremy P. Loenneke


Fat-free mass (FFM) estimated by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and densitometric methods (e.g. underwater weighing or air-displacement plethysmography) contains the fat-free component of adipose tissue. Weight loss reduces triglycerides in adipocytes and this automatically reduces the fat-free component of adipose tissue (assuming the fat fraction percentage is maintained after weight loss). The loss of this fat-free component reflects a reduction in whole body FFM. However, the reduction of the fat-free component of adipose tissue does not mean a change in actual FFM i.e., muscles and organs. Regrettably, little attention has been paid to adipose tissue fat content changes following weight loss. Objective: To discuss the change in fat fraction percentage of adipose tissue following weight loss interventions. Design: Narrative Review. Methods: Databases and a search engine were used to search for relevant articles. Results: There are three possible processes for determining adipose tissue fat content: (i) measure the components of adipose tissue using biopsy samples; (ii) measure the fat mass by DXA and the adipose tissue volume by magnetic resonance imaging and find the ratio of fat mass to adipose tissue volume; and (iii) measure the chemical shift-based water-fat by magnetic resonance imaging. Conclusion: Very few studies were found that reported changes in adipose tissue fat content with weight loss. At this time, we reported changes in adipose tissue fat content using three different processes but a consistent trend was not found. As a result, we were unable to conclude how much adipose tissue fat content changes after weight loss.

Received January 29, 2021; accepted March 4, 2021