Full confession: I love to read about brown fat, a relatively newly discovered form of fat that burns calories directly. Brown fat might be the key to weight loss, writes Alice Park, who covers breaking health news for TIME magazine. Last week, she published, Why Brown Fat May Be the Key to Weight Loss. Kudos to TIME for covering valuable research (when others did not.) But there’s a lot more to add. First, some words about brown fat.
The body makes two kinds of fat: white fat, familiar to all, the storage form of energy, and brown fat that is not stored but burned directly as fuel. When triggered by exposure to the cold, brown fat generates heat (white fat just sits there). Hibernating animals produce brown fat to stay warm during the winter. Newborn babies have lots of brown fat, their own little furnaces, to protect against the cold. We used to think that adults could not make brown fat, but now we know everyone can turn white fat into brown when there is need. (more…)
Everyone knows fat is a bad thing if you have too much of it. But what everyone may not realize is that some types of fat are better than others. Yes, there are multiple kinds of fat. Let’s start with a breakdown:
White fat, or bad fat, stores calories and acts as somewhat of a lame duck, just sitting in the body and not doing anything productive. White fat is predominantly found in obese individuals.
Brown fat, on the other hand, which is present in all humans during infant years and dwindles as we age, has been found to produce heat, burn calories and help control weight. When brown fat is lost in the body, it’s replaced by white fat, and is most often found in people who are active, especially athletes. (more…)
Scientists from the U.S. Johns Hopkins team have managed to turn bad white fat into good brown fat in recent experiments on rodents. This breakthrough could be a huge step in treating obesity if it were able to yield the same results in humans.
Brown fat is present in all humans during the infant years, but disappears as we age. Brown fat has been called the key to burning fat and could be a helpful way to control weight. When brown fat is lost in the body, it is replaced by white fat which has been called “bad fat” because it just sits. In their experiment, scientists were able to suppress an appetite stimulating protein called NPY. Through this suppression, the rodent’s appetite and caloric intake was reduced. This was the case even when they were fed a diet high in fat. An even more interesting development with this experiment was that the rodent’s bad white fat stores turned into good brown fat.
New research has found a type of fat called “brown fat” that may be a key to burning body fat. While we’re familiar with “white fat,” which stores calories and is responsible for the more than 30 percent of Americans who are obese, brown fat does the opposite. It generates heat, which in turn burns calories.
Brown fat is something we’re born with, and researchers thought we lost over time. However, they are now finding it in adults, according to three studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Where will you find brown fat? (more…)