Many aren’t familiar with the term brown adipose tissue (or brown fat) but recent studies from Harvard Medical School have brought this interest to the mainstream media. Brown fat, once thought only to be located on infants and hibernating animals has now been found on adults. The tissue’s main function is to maintain body temperature and can be activated and seen through PET-CT scans after the individual has been exposed to cool temperatures.
Harvard Medical School in their study “Cold but not sympathomimetics activates human brown adipose tissue in vivo” found that a cooling vest set at 14°C activated this tissue better than the weight loss drug Ephedrine. They detected this tissue in the neck, supraclavicular and spine and in twice the quantity in women as they found in men.
Lead researcher Dr. Aaron Cypess would later say that fully activated brown adipose tissue could burn an extra 500 calories a day all through the exposure to cool temperatures and not through sympathomimetic drugs. Other published journals would confirm these findings, as studies show “mild cold exposure can prevent increases in body weight (Obesity Journal) and “activated brown fat boosts the rate at which we burn calories by 20%” (New England Journal of Medicine). Recently Dr. Bruce Spiegelman of Harvard Medical published an article saying he suspects humans, like mice, make brown fat from white fat when they exercise and this could be the explanation for some effects of exercise.
As the research continues to be done, it is quite exciting that this tissue is leading to an all-natural weight loss solution and something that we do not need to ingest with harmful side effects.
This could lead to a new aspect of diet and exercise as the activation of brown adipose tissue can be done in conjunction with these two.