Brown fat could be the key to naturally losing weight.
It is no secret that competitive martial artists are always on the lookout for ways to decrease body fat, both from a performance standpoint and for the purpose of making their predetermined weight class. But you don't have to be a competitive athlete to understand the many benefits of decreased body fat. The kicker is that not all body fat is bad and one type is actually highly desirable.
Types of Body Fat
There are numerous types of fat contained in the body and a number of subcategories. These are just a few of the most prominently discussed:
- White Subcutaneous: Energy storing fat that is close to the surface of the skin. It typically congregates around the thighs and hips, and sometimes dispersed throughout the body.
- White Viceral: This type of fat is more “dangerous” as it surrounds organs inside the body. It is difficult to remove during surgery and may interrupt normal organ function.
- Brown Adipose Tissue: Increases energy expenditure and burns calories to promote heat and speed up the metabolism.
Brown Adipose Tissue “Brown Fat”
This is the “good fat.” Brown fat or BAT is full of mitochondria that feed on fat droplets supplied by white fat. Mitochondria are the primary source of energy for the body.
All humans are born with brown fat. Babies don't have the ability to shiver, and thereby cannot produce heat in the cold. Babies rely on mitochondria-rich brown fat cells to produce warmth. As we age the human body reduces the need to rely on brown fat, but numerous studies have shown that it is possible to purposefully increase brown fat, which in turn, speeds up the body's ability to burn calories. When the body burns more calories . . . you probably see where this is going.
A 2010 article from the National Center for Biotechnology written by Aaron M. Cypress, reviewed the findings of five significant studies conducted on BAT, which all came to similar conclusions, “Interventions designed to increase BAT mediated energy expenditures may be able to reset an individuals setting point for body weight back to a lower, healthier range.”
Numerous studies claim that brown fat can burn calories at in increase of up to 250 a day and increase metabolic rate by up to 15% depending on factors concerning activity, nutritional intake, fitness level, gender and more. These results are varied.
How to Increase Brown Fat
Many scientific medical experts are calling for the “brown fat revolution” to change the landscape of obesity and type 2 diabetes treatment. Yes, that means the pharmaceutical companies will be following close behind. Until they come up with a pill to promote BAT, there are several natural methods you could try right now that may help increase brown fat.
Cold Burns Calories
For nearly a decade, and in some cases more, wrestlers and like-minded athletes who have to “make weight,” have been turning down the thermostat and shivering off the pounds. Many high-end training facilities have installed ice tubs, not just for recovery, but also for weight reduction.
The concept of shivering the weight away has been around long before the scientific research became mainstream.
“I use to leave my bedroom window open at night and I would stick towel under the door so it stayed insulated. The house would be freezing,” said Muscle Fortress Supplements Owner, Gianni D'Ottavo who was a high-school wrestler. “My dad would come in and yell ‘Did you leave the window open last night, son?!' It was hard to sleep with my room that cold, but it helped to cut weight.”
Research across the globe shows an increase in energy expenditure when bodies are placed in low temperatures. A 2014 study conducted by Dr. Francesco S. Celi of Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr. Paul Lee, now at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, explored the effects of ambient temperature on brown fat and metabolism. Because of the detailed level of testing, the study only involved five participants. It was found that after a month of exposure to mild cold, the participants had a 42% increase in brown fat volume and a 10% increase in fat metabolic activity.
“Guys were doing it back when I was in high school. It's been around awhile,” said Shawnee Heights High School Wrestling Coach, Chad Parks. “It is terrible, but effective. People often figure out what works long before science catches up with it.”
Interaction of CBD Oil with Brown Fat
A study published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Biology in 2016 looked at the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on brown fat production. CBD is the non psychotropic phytocannabinoid of Cannabis sativa, and the subject of a number of studies for various health benefits.
One study, conducted by Korean researchers indicated that CBD enhanced expression of a core set of brown fat-specific marker genes and proteins. Increased expression of UCP1 and other brown fat-specific markers and contributed to the browning of adipocytes.
According to the study, “These data suggest possible roles for CBD in browning of white adipocytes, augmentation of lipolysis, thermogenesis, and reduction of lipogenesis. In conclusion, the current data suggest that CBD plays dual modulatory roles in the form of inducing the brown-like phenotype. As well as promoting lipid metabolism.”
CBD is available in a number of forms including sublingual oils. Research involving CBD oil and turning white fat to brown is still evolving but promising. Always consult your doctor before trying any new supplements.
An Apple a Day Keeps the Fat Away
Apple peels contain a substance called ursolic acid. According to a University of Iowa 2012 study,
“Interestingly, ursolic acid also increased brown fat, a tissue that shares developmental origins with skeletal muscle. Consistent with increased skeletal muscle and brown fat, ursolic acid increased energy expenditure, leading to reduced obesity. Improved glucose tolerance and decreased hepatic steatosis. These data support a model in which ursolic acid reduces obesity, glucose intolerance and fatty liver disease.
Researchers were unable to determine exactly how ursolic acid increases brown fat. However, they believe that it could be a secondary effect of reducing white fat. It may also be acting directly to stimulate brown fat production. Regardless, an apple a day is a pretty low-risk method of trying to increase brown fat.
Other foods that contain ursolic acid include cranberries, blueberries, plums, and prunes. As well as the herbs oregano, thyme, lavender, holy basil, bilberry, devil's claw, peppermint leaves, periwinkle, and hawthorn.