This good kind of body fat may actually help you lose weight
The secret to rapid fat loss is to increase one kind of fat in the body - brown fat. Recently, a group of researchers from the U.S. and Japan collaborated to explain how this works.
Their work — published as 'BCAA catabolism in brown fat controls energy homeostasis through SLC25A44' in late-August, in the peer-reviewed science Nature — shows that in addition to using fat and glucose to heat up the body when it is cold outside, brown fat is an important filter for clearing branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) from the blood; an excess of BCAA in the blood has been linked with obesity.
BCAA are essential amino acids that stimulate protein synthesis in muscles and reduce muscle breakdown. In fact, bodybuilders often take them as supplements to improve their performance.
Our bodies have three main types of fat: white, brown and tan or beige fat.
White fat accumulates under the skin (subcutaneous) and around the organs (visceral) when the body stores energy as triglyceride molecules. White fat helps in the normal functioning of hormones such as insulin, estrogen, cortisol (the stress hormone), growth hormone and leptin (the satiety hormone, which tells the brain when we have had enough to eat). An excess of this type of fat, however, can lead to obesity and health conditions like diabetes, liver disease and heart disease.
Brown fat accounts for a minuscule proportion of fat in adults. It uses energy to generate heat (thermogenesis). It has more blood capillaries, more iron and more sympathetic nerves than white fat - the extra iron is what gives it the brown colour. Brown fat makes up 5% of the body weight of newborns. In grown-up, it’s concentrated in the neck region. Scientists have been trying to crack the mystery of how it helps to reduce overall fat in the body since the turn of the century.
Beige fat is thought to burn fatty acids for energy when we are cold or stressed.
When we feel cold, brown fat uses fat and glucose in the body to generate heat. Indeed weight-loss gurus have been advocating ways to activate brown fat: from drinking hot black coffee to swimming in cold water. However, until now, scientists did not know the mechanism of how brown fat counters obesity.
The recent study published in Nature argues that brown fat helps to filter BCAA from the blood. They also found that a protein — SLC25A44 — controls the rate at which the brown fat clears the BCAA.
“Our study explains the paradox that BCAA supplements can potentially benefit those with active brown fat, such as healthy people, but can be detrimental to others, including the elderly, obese and people with diabetes,” said co-author Labros S. Sidossis in a press release.
The potential for this research is huge. In the future, it could lead to the development of effective weight-loss strategies, and help to manage and maybe even cure lifestyle diseases linked to obesity.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit Fats: Sources, Benefits, and Side Effects
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Updated Date: Sep 10, 2019 17:52:50 IST
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