What is brown fat?

Brown fat, good or bad?

Did you know we have two types of body fat? That’s right, white fat which is known as that fat roll around the waist and our good friend, brown fat, which is a hidden gem that helps heat our bodies when we’re cold. It’s only now that we are starting to talk about brown fat and its fat burning abilities!

What is brown fat?

Previously brown fat was thought to have no function, it is only found in small quantities in the human body so the relevance had been found to be low, until recently. When brown fat is activated it can burn a lot of energy relative to its small size. It is this energy burning power of brown fat that is ultimately of interest.

What is the difference?

White fat is a store for energy which is released and burnt only when other organs need it. The main role of brown fat is to heat our body when we are cold. To produce heat, brown fat cells burn energy, triggered from short-term bursts of cold exposure.

Can I active my brown fat?

You can train your brown fat sources to become better at burning your energy stores by exposing yourself to cold environments daily, something we modern humans rarely do. A popular choice that you can opt for though are regular cold showers. Brown fat operates like a muscle, you must ‘use-it-or-lose-it’, and training your brown fat correctly for a meaningful effect requires cold exposure for several hours per day. Alternatively there has been results through treatments which involve immersing your body for short periods in very cold nitrogen gas (below -100°C).

Despite supplement promotion that are said to increase brown fat development, there are no yet known medications or supplements that can increase brown fat in humans. Clinical trials have shown that medications found to increase the brown fat function in mice, actually decrease the function in humans.