Why Your Body Likes to Store Fat More Than Sugar: Understanding Water-Friendly and Water-Shy Traits

by | Oct 6, 2023 | ESL Edition

Oil and Water Don’t Mix

Have you ever wondered why our bodies like to store fat instead of sugar? It may not seem to make sense because sugar is our main source of energy. But, the answer lies in science, mainly in how fat and sugar behave with water.


What Do Fat and Sugar Have to Do with Water?

First, let’s talk about how fat and sugar relate to water. Remember, our bodies are mostly made of water.

Fat does not like water—it pushes it away. This is known as being ‘hydrophobic’. Sugar, on the other hand, loves water and pulls it in, which is ‘hydrophilic’. These traits affect how each is kept and used in the body.


Why Fat is Easy to Store

Because fat pushes water away, it is very good for long-term storage. Fat can be packed tightly in special cells called ‘adipocytes’ found in our fat tissue. Here, the fat stays stable but can be reached easily when we need more energy. Plus, fat has more energy in it—9 calories per gram—than sugar, which has 4 calories per gram.


The Challenges with Storing Sugar

Sugar is key for quick energy, like when our brain or muscles need it. But, because it loves water, storing a lot of it can cause problems. If too much sugar builds up in the blood, it pulls water into the blood from other parts of the body. This can cause issues like high blood pressure and make cells lose water. So, the body controls sugar levels tightly and keeps extra sugar as glycogen in the liver and muscles. But these places can only hold so much.


Balancing Sugar and Fat for Energy

Our body has ways to turn sugar into fat and store it for later. Also, if we need energy and don’t have enough sugar, the body can turn stored fat back into sugar. This process is known as ‘gluconeogenesis’.


What Happens in Our Blood Vessels

The way fat and sugar interact with water also affects our blood. Too much sugar in the blood takes water away from cells, which can cause dehydration and other issues. Fat, being water-shy, can be easily moved from the blood to fat tissue without changing the water levels, making it a more ‘stable’ way to keep energy.



The body’s choice to store fat over sugar is smart and based on how they interact with water. This helps the body keep a balanced level of energy and avoid health problems.

Knowing this can help us understand health issues like insulin resistance and being overweight. It’s also very important for nursing mothers, as too much sugar in the blood can affect both mother and baby’s health. More on that will be covered in upcoming articles.

Hi! I'm Hilary Jacobson, and I've been helping moms with milk supply issues for over 30 years. My book, 'Mother Food,' was a game-changer when it first came out, and I'm still at it—researching, writing, and teaching to make sure new moms get the support they need. Want to stay in the loop? Sign up to my newsletter for updates. 

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