Some people put on more weight with fat-rich foods than others
What is Brown Fat?
Brown fat or brown adipose tissue is a type of body fat that regulates your body temperature in cold conditions and keeps you warm.
This fat gets activated just before your body begins to shiver in cold weather.
Brown fat stores energy and burns calories.
The body has a smaller percentage of brown fat than white fat.
Studies have stated that brown fat has more mitochondria (cell structure responsible for respiration and producing energy) than white fat.
Since brown fat keeps the body warm, it is found abundantly in babies and hibernating mammals.
Adults have lesser brown fat, usually found near the neck, shoulder blades, and kidneys.
Since brown fat is known to burn more calories, researchers are studying its role in fighting obesity.
Brown Fat vs. White Fat
The body has three different types of fat:
- White fat: Most of the fat in the body falls under this type. White fat forms a cushioning around organs and stores energy in various places in the body, but an excess of it can result in obesity.
- Brown fat: This is similar to white fat and stores energy. Brown fat burns calories to help generate heat and regulate body temperature (thermogenesis).
Brown fat also regulates glucose and fat metabolism.
- Beige fat: This is a combination of white and brown fat. The cells of beige fat burn calories to regulate body temperature by converting white fat cells into brown.
Image: Types of fat
Difference between white and brown fat:
|White Fat||Brown Fat|
|Have large fat droplets to store energy||Have smaller droplets of fat|
|Lesser mitochondria||Plenty of mitochondria|
|Mitochondria contain lesser iron||Mitochondria are rich in iron, giving the fat its brown color|
Does Brown Fat Have Any Health Benefits?
While brown fat comes into the picture during the body’s temperature regulation, it offers several other health benefits:
Helps in weight loss
When brown fat is activated, it absorbs branched-chain amino acids (compounds found in the bodies of people with obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes).
Preliminary studies report that brown fat can help burn calories for energy, regulates metabolism and appetite, and enable weight loss.
It helps keep blood sugar levels in check
Brown fat regulates blood sugar levels. It is considered a metabolically active tissue as it burns glucose for fuel.
A small study published in April 2022 found a correlation between brown fat and metabolic conditions like diabetes.
A high level of brown fat activation may be an early sign of an individual developing diabetes. However, more research is required to confirm this finding.
Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
A 2021 study reported that brown fat in an individual lowers their risk for heart disease.
People with more detectable brown fat in PET scans had a lower risk for abnormal cholesterol, coronary heart diseases, hypertension, and congestive cardiac failure.
Can You Turn White Fat Into Brown Fat?
Here are some ways that may help convert white fat into brown fat:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Getting a good night’s sleep every day
- Exposure to cold temperature
- Nutritional supplements
Supplements to Increase Brown Fat
Supplements that contain the following nutrients and antioxidants may help turn white fat into brown fat:
- Curcumin (found in turmeric)
- Resveratrol (found in red grapes)
- EGCG (found in green tea)
- Capsaicin (found in chillis)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil)
- Retinoic acid (a form of vitamin A)
- Quercetin (a plant flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables)
- Oleuropein (found in green olives)
- Kudzu flower oil
Other Ways To Activate Brown Fat
Apart from supplements, other ways to increase brown fat are:
You can get brown fat from the foods you eat. A few foods that help increase brown fat are:
- Nuts and seeds like cashews, flax, and chia seeds
- Green tea
- Red chili peppers
- Red grapes
Combining foods with good fats with vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy creates a well-balanced diet to increase brown fat.
Adding iron to your diet by including meats and seafood, leafy greens, and beans helps increase the brown fat in your body.
Lower the temperature
Brown fat is activated just before you start shivering. So, taking a cold shower, an ice bath, or turning down the thermostat can activate brown fat and stimulate your body to produce more heat.
Getting your daily dose of physical exercise is good for your health.
Studies have stated that exercise activates a hormone in the blood called irisin that instructs the white fat in your body to burn like white fat. This process creates beige fat.
Summary: Supplements to Increase Brown Fat
- Brown adipose tissue (brown fat) is a type of body fat that regulates metabolism, body temperature, and glucose levels.
- Brown fat is activated just before the body begins to shiver, thereby promoting thermogenesis.
- Brown fat helps in weight loss, regulates blood sugar levels, keeps it in check, and lowers the risk of heart conditions.
- White fat can be converted into brown fat by eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, a good night’s sleep, and nutritional supplements.
- Eating a healthy diet containing nuts and seeds, green tea, and other fiber-rich foods can also help increase brown fat in the body.