Humans have two main types of adipose tissue or fat tissue; white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT). Both have extremely distinct functions:
- White Adipose Tissue – Stores chemical energy (excess unused food energy)
- Brown Adipose Tissue – Releases heat via consuming energy
When we are younger, our brown adipose tissue stores are very high and make up almost 5% of our weight. This is an evolutionary mechanism to avoid hypothermia as babies aren’t able to shiver adequately or move away from the cold by themselves. As we get older though, our BAT levels fall dramatically making up less than 0.4% of body weight. Which is a shame, considering just 63g of BAT working at full capacity can burn up to 4.1kg of WAT a year. Can you imagine losing 4.1kg without having to train or diet?
What’s even more interesting is the evidence of brite cells also known as beige cells or inducible brown cells. These are basically WAT cells which can be converted to BAT cells. With the average person having between 20-27kgs of white adipose tissue, even a small conversion and thermogenic rate increase can really make an impact on fat metabolism. Intense research then has been looking at ways and therapies to increase this conversion. Here are some of the key moderators that may in differing capacities create brite adipose tissue:
- Cold Exposure
- Black Soybean
- Methionine Restriction
- Ketone Bodies
- Olive Oil
- Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
As previously mentioned, the above therapies to induce the conversion of WAT to BAT differs in their effectiveness with most still in its infancy in research; most of which is confined to in vitro and animal studies. Some are certainly more viable than others as well; for example we’re not condoning the use of nicotine or Viagra as suitable or sustainable methods of trying to boost fat metabolism and weight loss. The science is definitely growing though and some of the above suggestions are already popular ingredients in fat burner supplements such as caffeine, capsaicin and resveratrol. If all else fails though, a quick stroll in cold weather or a decent exercise session followed by a cold shower might just do the trick.