But, what if there is a special kind of fat? Imagine a fat that is not only good, but, burns calories instead of storing them. Is there a fat that actually increases your metabolism? Well there is such a fat and it is called brown fat, and brown fat is good. Brown fat makes up a small amount of an adults total body fat, which is mostly white fat. A baby is born with an abundance of brown fat to help keep them warm. As adults we retain only a small portion of brown fat, usually in the neck, upper chest and shoulders. Brown fat differs from white fat because brown fat burns fats called lipids and white fat stores lipids.
Researchers have found that the FDA approved drug mirabegron, used to treat an overactive bladder, may boost brown fat’s metabolic powers. This finding may be a promising tool in combatting obesity. This research was published in the January 6th issue of Cell Metabolism.
One possible way to naturally increase brown fat is exposure to cold. Some new research, suggests that by keeping your house cooler or taking a walk in the winter, we may be able to stimulate brown fat, burn excess white fat, and lose weight. When we get cold, cells in brown fat release a hormone that boosts their ability to burn fat. Best estimates are that we may be able to burn 300-400 calories per day by chilling out. Combined with healthier eating habits and exercise, setting the thermostat to 66 degrees, can aid in fat burning and weight loss. One added benefit found in a 2013 study that brown fat shielded rats from blood sugar problems. If these results are found to be true in humans, this could be a step in helping to manage diabetes.
Imagine going to an all you can eat buffet and not overeating. That’s exactly what people who were given IPE did. Actually, those who were given IPE ate 14% less than those who did not receive it, in a recent study by researchers at the University of Glasgow and Imperial College London.
As we age, we continue to gain weight. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 found that adults under the age of 25 years old gained about .5 to 1.5 pounds per year. Men between the ages of 25-44 years old gained 3.4% of their body weight per year. Women between the ages of 25-and 45 years old, gained an average of 5.2% of their body weight per year. With this finding, a 30 year old man who weighs 160 pounds, will gain about 5 pounds per year, and a woman over 8 pounds per year. By the age of 40, that man may weigh over 200 pounds, ant that same woman, over 240 pounds.
Dr. Gary Frost, who coauthored the Glasgow study, said that the goal was to give adults a way to fight back against the slow incremental weight gain over time. In this study, volunteers were given either dietary fiber, or Inulin- Proprionate Ester (IPE), and allowed to eat as much as they wanted at a buffet. The study found that those given the proprionate compound ate 14% less on average. The proprionate compound was found to stimulate the release of appetite suppressing hormones and resulted in less weight gain. Also, those in the study who received proprionate had less abdominal fat and liver fat when compared to the inulin only group.
This research opens new avenues to fight obesity. By adding IPE to food, we may be able to reduce food intake and provide an important tool in weight management, by regulating appetite. Keep in mind, this is one study published in GUT 2014, however the results are very promising.