Fat has gotten a bad rep over the years, but the truth is fat serves many essential functions in our body, including safely storing excess calories and releasing hormones that control metabolism. One type of fat in particular is thought to be extremely beneficial for weight loss.
Brown fat is metabolically active and aids in thermogenesis, i.e., keeping you warm. Studies have found that people who live in colder climates tend to have more brown fat than people in warmer climate. Studies have also found that lean people tend to have more brown fat than overweight or obese people.
When activated, brown fat burns white fat — the kind that stores excess calories (and the kind we typically think of when talking about fat) — and can do so at a significantly high rate. For example, 2-3 ounces of brown fat (the amount typically expected in a 150-pound person with 20-30 pounds of fat) could burn up to 300-500 calories per day if maximally stimulated. That’s enough by itself to lose 0.6-1.0 pound per week.
Not surprisingly, brown fat is derived from muscle tissue. I say not surprisingly because brown fat seems to function more like muscle than “fat.”
Many researchers are now studying brown fat and it’s potential therapeutic application to obesity.
How can you increase your brown fat?
Be aware though that over-eating can actually make these unicorn cells dysfunctional. This means they will not burn calories, and you will not reap any magical weight loss benefits from them. Need help controlling your diet? See my first action step (Have a Plan) in this blog post about what you can do today to get results. On a similar note, under-eating can also prevent fat from turning brown.
Moral of the story: take care of your body and your body will take care of you!
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