What is Brown Fat and what has it got to do with the cold?
Would you like to know a way to burn fat whilst watching television? Bet you have heard that one before, where you are then barraged with an advertisement for a $300 machine that wobbles you about a bit in the name of fat burning.
But wait. Scientists have discovered that brown fat (brown adipose tissue), a type of fat that burns energy and is heat generated could well help in the battle of the bulge.
As we grow older, our store of brown fat which can be located around our blood vessels ‘warming our blood’ and around our neck diminishes, but it can be ‘reactivated’ by cooling the temperature of our body.
What can be expected of this reactivation of brown fat?
According to studies done by the Journal of Clinical Investigation,
“Ouellet et al. demonstrate that metabolism in brown fat really is increased when adult humans are exposed to cold.
This boosts the possibility that calorie combustion in brown fat may be of significance for our metabolism and, correspondingly, that the absence of brown fat may increase our proneness to obesity – provided that brown fat becomes activated not only by cold but also through food-related stimuli.”
If you are young, with normal blood sugars and of an ideal weight; your brown fat storage would be higher than someone old, with high blood sugars and obese.
But lowering your body temperature by
- strapping ice packs to your upper chest and back for 30 minutes a day,
- sitting waist deep in a cold bath for 10 minutes three times a week,
- taking a cold shower or
- drinking 500ml of ice water first thing in the morning
can start that brown fat going again.(note: proceed with caution and at a slow pace – this cold treatment could shock your body so you need to be careful. If in doubt, consult a doctor)
We are talking about up to an extra 4 – 500 calories can be burned this way and since brown fat acts more like a muscle than fat, we like the sound of that.
“Kirsi A. Virtanen, MD, PhD, of the University of Turku, Finland, and colleagues analyzed brown fat in five young men. One of the men had about 2.2 ounces of brown fat. ”If the brown [fat] in this example were fully activated, it would burn an amount of energy equivalent to approximately 4.1 kilograms [9 pounds]” of fat over the course of a year, the researchers calculate. And that’s a low estimate, as this assumes only 50 percent activation of the brown fat.”
Related articles for brown fat and cold temperature
- What Is Brown Fat? What Is Brown Adipose Tissue? (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Why Brown Fat Is No Obesity Cure… Yet (abcnews.go.com)
- Brown Fat Burns Calories In Adult Humans (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Heart Hormone Linked to Calorie-Burning Brown Fat (webmd.com)