To measure how much fat we have on our bodies, most of us simply look in the mirror.
But what you see isn’t really an accurate measure.
Nope, I’m not talking about whether you should use a scale, versus those calipers that look like jaws snapping at your midsection — or even the insanely expensive “hydrostatic weighing” where they drop you in a pool of water to measure your fat levels.
Instead, the point I’m getting to is the fact that when you look in the mirror, you’re really only seeing one type of fat.
Yup, there is more than one type of fat on your body and in a very real way, how much of one fat you have helps to determine how much of the other you see in the mirror…
Brown versus white fat
The two types of fat we have are known as brown and white fat.
White fat is the fat we all think about — the one that accumulates on our hips, thighs, stomach and buttocks and makes our jeans harder to zip as its levels go up. And, while we tend to think of this fat only in the context of how bad it is when it comes to our weight, it also produces a number of important hormones.
On the other hand, brown fat sits close to your nervous system, up your spine, around your throat and near your kidneys. It plays a very different role in the body, by producing heat.
In fact, while white fat can be considered fat storage, brown fat burns energy (think weight loss).
And while babies have a lot of brown fat, as we age, we lose most of it — leaving us with less capacity to burn through our calories and stay slim.
Now, however, researchers at the University of Copenhagen may have given us a very valuable clue into how we can tip the scales (so to speak) in our favor…
They discovered a secret language, exclusive to each fat that could help us slim down.
That language? Proteins.
The team of scientists found that not only do white and brown fat both secrete proteins that send signals to the rest of your body, the signals they send are very different.
“It’s the first time that anyone has studied human brown fat at this level of detail. We have mapped all of the proteins that are secreted from the fat cells and that they use to communicate with other cells. And there are big differences between them. It’s as though they speak very different languages,” says Associate Professor Camilla Schéele from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR).
And according to the team, the difference in their language lies in the fact that brown fat secretes more than 100 proteins that just aren’t secreted by white fat, including proteins that better regulate your immune system and one that plays an important role in developing and maturing new brown fat cells to prepare them for producing heat and energy.
In other words, the more brown fat you have, the more you’re able to grow more and keep them all functioning optimally to burn more calories!
So, it’s a process that feeds on itself.
Having brown fat leads to more brown fat and so on.
You’re probably wondering why that matters to you.
After all, if you need brown fat to make more and you don’t have enough, aren’t you just out of luck?
The answer is no.
If that was the case, I wouldn’t have even told you about this new study.
Instead, there’s actually a very easy way to grab some extra brown-fat power and then let the snowball roll downhill as it helps you make more.
That’s because research from Washington State University, which I’ve written about in the past, found that when they fed mice a supplement of an antioxidant known as resveratrol, it turned their white fat beige.
Yup, their fat went brown!
So, when you put these two studies together, you have a way to boost your current levels of brown fat which will raise your future levels of the fat — all of which helps you burn more calories so that you can reach and maintain the weight you want.