Increase your brown fat levels to burn more calories
We all know when we have too much of it and we spend half our lives trying to lose it but how much do any of us really know about body fat? Did you know there are different types and that some may actually be beneficial to our health?
There are two specific types of fat; white fat and brown fat. White fat makes up our largest energy source and protects our organs. Formed of connective tissue it is the largest endocrine gland in the body, regulating hormones vital for normal healthy function such as cortisol, insulin and oestrogen. White fat is found all over the body but if calorie intake exceeds calorie expenditure levels of white fat can increase to unhealthy proportions and appear as those stubborn bulges we lovingly refer to as muffin tops or bingo wings.
Men carry excess fat across their abdomen where as women generally gather excess around thighs and hips. As white fat has a limited blood supply it is very difficult to shift once it has accumulated and if too much sits across the stomach it becomes visceral fat, a substance that puts immense pressure on the internal organs and increases the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Then we have brown fat. A slightly lesser known substance that contains a larger blood supply and an active factory of mitochondria to burn calories and remove excess white fat. The is a substance we need and want in abundance please!
Large quantities of brown fat are found in young children but only very active adults with regular blood sugar levels will have a healthy level of brown fat supply, although we would all be a lot healthier if we generated more of this fantastic slimming substance.
Brown fat is stimulated through exercise, especially HIIT (high intensity interval training) and power lifts that send the body into shock, producing an excess of fat burning hormones and generating a huge amount of heat in the muscle as a by product of increased calorie burn.
Exposing the body to cold has the same affect, forcing the muscles to generate heat and subsequently revert tissue from white to brown fat. Shivering requires masses of energy r.e. calories, but again its the shock to the body that forces a sudden influx of fat burning signals to flood the hypothalamus. Get outside to exercise or run the shower to cold for the last 30 seconds to send those fat burning hormones into overdrive.
Getting plenty of sleep and switching off all technology in the evenings before bed (this includes smartphones, laptops and the TV!) can improve levels of melatonin, credited with creating brown fat and the lesser beige fat, with the same calorie crunching capabilities. Get plenty of sunlight during the day and combine it with a brisk interval training session on a cold morning to knock out a triple whammy.
Finally, don’t skip any meals. Although over consumption of food increases white fat and can be detrimental to health, its vital to keep blood sugar levels consistent so that neurones in the brain can continue to send signals for the break down of fat. If you skip meals, the body will hold on to its calories in order to keep the body running efficiently so signals to burn calories will be blocked and fat break down will cease.
So its not all bad, we secretly need fat to keep us ticking over, just make sure have more of the good stuff!