Meet The Ultimate Fat Loss Method: Brown Fat Activation
Brown fat activation may accelerate the metabolism and help one burn an extra 200-300 calories per day. That would be enough for shedding 1 pound of body fat every 4 weeks, with no diet or exercise required.
Brown fat is present in larger amounts in babies, and decreases with age. Adults still have BAT, but the amount is usually too low to significantly affect one’s body weight and appearance. The good news is that white fat can be turned into fat-destroying Brown Adipose Tissue.
The human body has two different types of fat cells, white and fat. White fat cells form the layer of adipose tissue underneath the skin, and consist of a single, large droplet of lipid. This droplet can grow larger when we eat more calories than our body needs, as the excess nutrients are turned into lipids and sent to the white fat layers.
On the contrary, if we burn more calories than we eat, we can create a caloric deficit that forces the organism to use some of its stored fat for fueling the organs that require extra energy. So the droplet of lipid stored in each of the cells that form the white adipose layer can shrink in size if there’s no other source of energy available (blood sugar, liver or muscle glycogen) and the body uses the white fat reservoirs for energy production.
However, if the body does have enough fuel available, it will not break down the white adipose tissue. Instead, it will store all the excess calories into this tissue, causing us to gain weight. Brown fat cells have exactly the opposite effect, and this is why they’re considered the “good fats”.
Brown fat cells are located mainly in the neck and shoulder area, and consist of several smaller droplets of lipid, as well as mitochondria. These tiny chestnut-colored components of BAT burn the oily droplets and generate energy and heat. The more brown fat you have, the faster your metabolic rate is (www.nih.gov), and the more calories you burn during daily activities.
Why brown fat may be the most amazing fat loss solution
BAT is very inefficient at producing energy, and it requires a significant amount of lipid droplets for generating heat and for fueling the muscles and the other organs. And this is exactly what makes brown fat so amazing: it destroys white fat almost as efficiently as muscle tissue!
But if this type of adipose tissue can destroy the fattening lipids that efficiently, and if all humans have brown fat cells, as said at the beginning, how come there are still overweight and obese individuals? Shouldn’t brown fat take care of all the excess calories, and keep us slim and lean forever?
Brown adipose tissues can destroy white fats, it’s already proven by several studies (Medscape, Science Daily), so the premise that BAT could be the most amazing and efficient weight loss solution out there is still a valid one. The only problem is that adults have too little brown tissue, and in order for this type of fat to really make a difference on the scale, it needs to be activated, so as to become available in larger amounts.
How to activate brown fat, according to science
With white fat things are a lot easier: to burn it off you need to create a caloric deficit, either through diet or by exercising more. Brown fat is not that easy to gain or lose, but there are some methods that can be used for turning white fat into BAT and activating the brown adipose tissue; these may result in a faster metabolic rate and quicker weight loss.
A first and very accessible strategy refers to lowering the room temperature, and exercising in cooler environments (Nih.gov). Exercising stimulates the production of irisin inside the muscles, this hormone being able to initiate the conversion of white fat cells into brown adipose cells. Irisin is released when skeletal muscles contract, but research suggests exposure to cold may also increase the production of this chemical, prompting the body to burn more white fat to produce heat and energy.
This is great news for two reasons: one, you can increase the production of irisin by exercising for 40-60 minutes, then you can allow your body to rest and recover in a cooler room, and again encourage the release of this hormone that will boost your body’s metabolism and accelerate the fat burning process.
Research has shown that lowering the temperature from 80F (26C) to 53F (11C) after exercise can increase energy expenditure by 48% and muscle activity by 13%-88% (Nih.gov). The secretion of irisin seems to increase proportionally to shivering intensity, as cold stimulates the brown fats to maintain the body’s core temperature.
Another study has shown that suppressing a certain protein which is linked to obesity may combat obesity and accelerate weight loss by suppressing fat formation (NCBI.Nih.gov). The protein, called TGF-beta, is involved in growth, development and the functioning of several cell types, and was found to be present in larger amounts in obese people. When researchers blocked the activity of this protein with antibodies, the formation of adipose cells was suppressed as well, and white fat became browner and developed more mitochondria (NCBI.Nih.gov).
Finally, a third method for encouraging the conversion of white fat to brown fat and stimulating fat loss seems to be exposure to adrenaline-releasing stress. Although not beneficial for one’s overall health, stress that persists for several weeks can cause a constant release of adrenaline, which activates a protein called UCP1. This protein is produced by mitochondria in brown fat cells (ScienceAlert) and prompts BAT to burn calories faster, so it seems that prolonged exposure to stress could increase the energy expenditure, supporting fat loss.
Until researchers discover more accessible solutions, the best we can do for stimulating the conversion of white fat to brown fat and for accelerating the fat destruction process is to exercise and sleep in cooler rooms, as cold activates brown adipose tissue.
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