This review focuses on adipose tissue biology and introduces the concept of adipose tissue plasticity and expandability as key determinants of obesity-associated metabolic dysregulation. This concept is fundamental to our understanding of adipose tissue as a dynamic organ at the center of nutritional adaptation. Here, we summarize the current knowledge of the mechanisms by which adipose tissue can affect peripheral energy homeostasis, particularly in the context of overnutrition. Two mechanisms emerge that provide a molecular understanding for obesity-associated insulin resistance. These are a) the dysregulation of adipose tissue expandability and b) the abnormal production of adipokines. This knowledge has the potential to pave the way for novel therapeutic concepts and strategies for managing and/or correcting complications associated with obesity and the metabolic syndrome.