We men are obsessed with muscle.
Sure, muscle looks great, and building muscle helps you burn fat by boosting your metabolism, reducing inflammation, and improving insulin sensitivity.
But while you’re busy building all that muscle, it’s a good idea to spare some thought to another type of muscle that helps you burn fat, a type of muscle that is totally neglected by 99.9% of men.
That type of muscle is the brown fat cell.
Brown fat may be CALLED “fat”, but it’s actually more like muscle than it is like the usual WHITE fat you want to get rid of.
Brown fat cells come from the same stem cells as muscle, they are more closely related to muscle than they are to fat.
Like muscle, brown fat contains lots of mitochondria, which is what gives them their brown color. It specializes in burning the unwanted stored white fat in your body, to produce heat.
So brown fat cells are fat burning furnaces inside your body.
Similar to brown fat cells are “beige” fat cells.
What’s awesome about beige fat cells is you can convert white fat cells into beige fat cells that convert fat to heat much like brown fat cells do.
Here’s How We Know Brown & Beige Fat Cells Help You Lose Weight
Lean People Have More Brown Fat
In a large population study of 1972 people1, researchers found an inverse correlation between body mass index (BMI) and brown fat activity. This means that…
- The fatter people were, the lower the brown fat activity.
- The leaner people were, the higher the brown fat activity.
Could this mean that increasing your brown fat activity can help you get lean? I sure think it could.
To further highlight the importance of brown fat activity in keeping you lean, studies show that mice with impaired brown fat function quickly become obese2.
Younger People Have More Brown Fat
The same large population study above also found an inverse correlation between brown fat activity and age:
- The older the subjects, the lower the activity of brown fat.
- The younger the subject, the higher the activity of brown fat.
Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, said regarding this,
“A common complaint is that older people have to work twice as hard with their diets and exercise to get half of the results of younger people. Now we have a much better idea why this is the case: Our brown fat stops working as we age.”
Notice how it gets more and more difficult to keep the pounds off as you get older? Especially when you push past 30, 40, then 50 years old? Scientist like Weissmann believe one important reason behind this is because of declining activity of brown fat cells as you age.
So what this means is if you can maintain or boost brown fat activity as you get older, you can restore your youthful ability to easily burn off the food you eat.
Brown Fat Could Be The Reason Behind Why Some People Can Eat What They Want And Still Stay Lean
You know how your brother, your best friend and your uncle all seem to be able to eat more than you yet still stay lean?
One reason behind this could be that they have more brown fat than you do.
We all feel hot and sweaty after eating a particularly heavy or spicy meal, but your skinny uncle likely produces MORE heat after his meals than you do. Why?
Because studies show that people with more brown fat activity generate more heat after a meal3.
So where your uncle turns more of the calories from his food into heat thanks to his extra brown fat cells, you turn more of the calories from your food into stored fat.
So How Do You Go About Boosting Those Brown Fat Levels?
The function of brown fat is to generate heat in order to keep you warm.
So the most intuitive method of boosting brown fat activity is through…
I wrote about cold exposure for losing weight and losing man boobs here:
Brown fat is found in different places around the body, but in a lot of people, it is concentrated around the shoulders (above the clavicles), in the upper chest, and in the upper back between the shoulder blades.
You can take regular cold showers and concentrate the shower head in these areas. You’ll get best results at a water temperature of 10°C (50°F) or less, though you’ll still benefit at as high as 15°C (59°F)4.
I advise keeping the room temperature in your house at 19°C (66°F). This is due to the findings of a 2013 study, where reducing the temperature from 24°C (75°F) to 19°C (66°F) resulted in a significant increase in brown fat activity5.
Also, get out there and spend time in the cold outdoors without a jacket. In a study of 12 Japanese men, exposure to cold air at 17°C (63°F) for 2 hours every day, resulted in significant body fat reduction compared to 10 control subjects who were not exposed to cold and did not lose any body fat6.
Eat Spicy Food
Ever notice how you feel particularly hot and sweaty after a SPICY meal?
This is largely because capsaicin from chili peppers can activate brown fat cells7. The increased brown fat cell activity generates heat, and you feel all hot and sweaty.
Studies show that capsaicin helps reduce body fat levels8, and this could largely be because it activates those precious brown fat cells.
In one study it was said that, “repeated ingestion of capsinoids can mimic the chronic effects of cold exposure on BAT and body fat in humans.”6
Studies show that progesterone can improve brown fat activity by increasing the expression of thermogenin, which is the protein responsible for generating heat in brown fat cells9.
The best way to up your progesterone level is by using a good natural USP bioidentical progesterone cream that’s specifically designed for men. Here’s a good one:
Curcumin in turmeric has been found to promote browning of white fat cells10.
This is where white fat cells undergo browning to form “beige” fat cells.
Beige fat acts like brown fat. It burns fat to produce heat.
So turmeric goes around reforming trouble-makers on the streets into useful citizens who contribute to society.
It seems turmeric is a powerful ally in our fight against body fat and man boobs.
Turmeric seems to HATE white fat–those fat cells that store fat and make you fat.
Not only does it cause white fat cells to undergo self-destruction, it suppresses white fat cell differentiation (i.e. stops them from multiplying), it starves white fat cells by cutting off their blood supply, and to top it off, it converts white cells into fat burning brown-like “beige” fat cells.
So if you’re out to lose weight or lose man boobs, make sure you have plenty turmeric in your system.
Add it to your food and take a good turmeric supplement.
Until quite recently, brown fat was thought to be dormant and useless in adults, being only useful in babies and young children.
But now we know that brown fat CAN be very active and useful in us adults when we know how to activate it–through the likes of cold exposure, capsaicin, progesterone and turmeric.
Scientists are now on the case and looking for ways we can further use brown fat to help solve today’s obesity epidemic.
What I find really exciting about brown fat is it burns energy without increasing your physical activity levels or making you eat less.
Mice given turmeric for example, get lean without increasing their physical activity and without eating less.
I’m always looking for these hacks where you can train your body to get better at burning fat, so you can get lean without having to count calories or spend hours on end at the gym.
Increasing brown fat activity is one of those methods that can help you do just that.
Would you rather lose weight using conventional methods of eating less and exercising more, where you constantly feel hungry and are constantly on the treadmill…
…or would you rather find ways to boost brown fat activity, so your body gets better at burning fat, and naturally just keeps the weight off?
If you prefer the easier, more effective, and more lasting method that trains your body to get better at burning fat, then use cold exposure, spice up your food, use a progesterone cream, and/or take a good turmeric supplement.
Boost your brown fat levels using these methods, and you’ll see just how easy it is to permanently transform your body into something much more pleasing to the eye.
- Cypess, A. M. et al. Identification and importance of brown adipose tissue in adult humans. N Engl J Med 360, 1509-1517, doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0810780 (2009).
- Sugatani, J. et al. Antiobese function of platelet-activating factor: increased adiposity in platelet-activating factor receptor-deficient mice with age. FASEB J 28, 440-452, doi:10.1096/fj.13-233262 (2014).
- Hibi, M. et al. Brown adipose tissue is involved in diet-induced thermogenesis and whole-body fat utilization in healthy humans. International Journal Of Obesity 40, 1655, doi:10.1038/ijo.2016.124 (2016).
- Eglin, C. M. & Tipton, M. J. Repeated cold showers as a method of habituating humans to the initial responses to cold water immersion. European Journal of Applied Physiology 93, 624-629, doi:10.1007/s00421-004-1239-6 (2005).
- Chen, K. Y. et al. Brown fat activation mediates cold-induced thermogenesis in adult humans in response to a mild decrease in ambient temperature. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 98, E1218-1223, doi:10.1210/jc.2012-4213 (2013).
- Yoneshiro, T. et al. Recruited brown adipose tissue as an antiobesity agent in humans. The Journal of clinical investigation 123, 3404-3408, doi:10.1172/jci67803 (2013).
- Yoneshiro, T. & Saito, M. Transient receptor potential activated brown fat thermogenesis as a target of food ingredients for obesity management. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 16, 625-631, doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283653ee1 (2013).
- Snitker, S. et al. Effects of novel capsinoid treatment on fatness and energy metabolism in humans: possible pharmacogenetic implications. Am J Clin Nutr 89, 45-50, doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26561 (2009).
- Rodriguez, A. M., Monjo, M., Roca, P. & Palou, A. Opposite actions of testosterone and progesterone on UCP1 mRNA expression in cultured brown adipocytes. Cell Mol Life Sci 59, 1714-1723 (2002).
- Wang, S. et al. Curcumin promotes browning of white adipose tissue in a norepinephrine-dependent way. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 466, 247-253, doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2015.09.018 (2015).