Please to enjoy Liz and her by-request guest post.
I longed for a post on brown fat. I haveth not the sciencewritingskillz to create the blog post on brown fat.
I tweeted Liz & thankfully she responded.
Brown is the new black
Brown fat that is.
So what’s the buzz on brown fat? And is it the new weight loss panacea for the masses?
What you need to know…
In mammals, fat (known among the medical set as “adipose tissue”) comes in two varieties: white and brown.
* White adipose tissue (or “WAT”) is used for energy storage and to provide warmth. It also protects the organs by acting as a cushion. Most of the fat in our bodies is white.
* Brown adipose tissue (or “BAT”), is mostly found in newborns and tends to diminish as a person ages. Brown fat is used by the body to regulate temperature and quickly burns sugar to keep infants warm, meaning that exposure to cold activates brown fat cells. This last point may be important when it comes to weight loss.
For decades, brown fat was believed to significantly decline as we grew older, mainly because as we become more able to regulate our body temperatures, we no longer solely rely on biology. However, PET scanning has shown that healthy adults actually have stores of brown fat scattered throughout the front and back of the neck and chest areas.
So, is brown fat an equal opportunist? NO!
* Women with lean body mass have at least twice the ratio of brown fat compared to men.
* Exposure to temperatures of around 61º F appears to kick off brown fat cell activity, at least in leaner people.
* The higher your body mass index (BMI), the lower the amount of brown fat in your body.
Turning down the thermostat can help lose weight, right?
Well yes. And no.
In controlled situations, volunteers left “chilling” for at least two hours were shown to have a surge in brown fat activity.
However, keep in mind that the body is fine-tuned to maintain equilibrium, so, what goes out often goes right back in.
In otherwords, expend more energy, eat more food. And the “chill factor” hasn’t been extensively tested in people under normal, everyday conditions. Still, based on what researchers are able to learn from animal studies, they believe that having as little as 1 to 2 ounces of brown fat in your body could potentially burn about 20% of the average daily caloric intake, that is, if brown fat cells were properly activated.
Meanwhile, researchers are looking into how brown fat can be used to treat obesity. Already, Harvard Medical School researchers have discovered ways to actually engineer human and mouse cells to produce brown fat, that, when transplanted, has the ability to burn excess calorie energy typically stored in white fat cells.
The bottom line
Unless you’re keen on running out and getting a PET scan, there’s no standard way to determine how much brown fat you are carrying around or if sitting in a cold room is going to help you lose weight.
Brown may be the new black. But the designers are still working on coming up with the patterns that are going to work best for most people.
Liz Scherer is a medical/health writer, reporter and digital maven.
Her work has appeared in Myslexia, Book Magazine, McCall’s and various other women’s magazines, journals, wires and websites. Her blog, Flashfree, which focuses on issues relevant to midlife and menopause, is consistently rated as one of the top women’s health blogs. She is also a monthly contributor to Disruptive Women in Healthcare and Women Grow Business.