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Purpose of Brown Fat & Ways to Build Brown Fat

What is Brown Fat?

Brown fat is also known as adipose tissue fat, a special type of body fat that is turned on when a person turns cold. This leads to the production of heat to maintain the body temperature. Brown fat contains more mitochondria than white fat. Mitochondria are the engines that burn fat to produce heat.

Purpose of Body Fat

White fat and brown fat, both have a different purposes in the body.

White Fat

White fat is also known as white adipose tissue fat. It stores energy in large fat droplets that accumulate around the body. This accumulation of fat helps keep the body warm by proving insulation for the organs. Excess white fat in the body can lead to obesity and may also increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.

Brown Fat

Brown fat or brown adipose tissue stores energy in smaller spaces than white fat. It is packed with iron-rich mitochondria that are responsible for its color. Burning brown fat creates heat and the process is known as thermogenesis. This process also burns calories.

Brown fat is also regarded as a treatment for obesity and a few metabolic syndromes.(1)

It was believed that only babies have brown fat and it disappears by the time people reach adulthood. Adults have small deposits of brown fats that are stored mostly in the shoulder and neck.

Ways to Build Up Brown Fat

Ways to Build Up Brown Fat

There are a few medications that can cause the browning of white fat. Thiazolidinedione’s are the drugs that are used to help manage insulin resistance and help with fat accumulation. These are prescribed to people with diabetes and are also associated with weight gain, fluid retention, and other side effects.

Some possible alternatives for brown fat production are:

  • Turns Down the Temperature

    Exposing the body to colder temperatures can be helpful in brown cell formation. Research shows that 2 hours a day of exposure to a temperature around 66°F may be enough to form brown fat. A person can also consider taking a cold shower or ice bath. Turning the temperature down a few degrees in the home or outside can be helpful in creating brown fat.

  • Exercise

    Research done on mice show that a protein called irisin may be helpful in transforming white fat into brown fat.(2) This protein can also be produced by humans. A study shows that people with a sedentary lifestyle produce less irisin than those who exercise frequently.(3)

    This is why exercise is recommended by doctors for improving heart health and weight management. How much exercise would be beneficial in producing brown fat is not known, but it surely is beneficial for health in many ways.

Research on Brown Fat

Research is still going on how genes control white and brown fat development. In 2013, a study was performed, in which the mice were engineered to be born with little brown fat by limiting protein called Type 1A BMP-receptors.(4) The mice produced brown fat from white fat and muscle when exposed to cold. It is also discovered that a protein called B-cell factor-2 might play a role in building brown fat.(5)

Brown Fat and Diabetes

In a 2015 review, it was shown that brown fat burns calories and may be helpful in burning calories and controlling blood sugar, and improving insulin. (6) There is a decrease in the risk of type 2 diabetes. It can also be helpful in removing fat from the blood and decreasing the risk of hyperlipidemia.

Studies also show the promising result of brown fat in treating obesity.

More research is needed on how brown fat can be made from white fat. Before trying to ice bath, eating more, or turning down the thermostat, try making small changes in the diet and starting up with low-impact exercises.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 15, 2022

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