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the Key to Effective Fat Loss?

Until recently, nutrition scientists and the general public regarded all dietary fats as bad, and they made no distinction between the different types of fat tissue in our bodies.

 Once they researched a bit deeper, they found out that our bodies are prone to burning certain types of fat as opposed to storing them, certain fatty acids take on the role of hormonal precursors and other types take on all kinds of roles and provide various benefits that are yet to be examined and understood. 


Nutrition scientists have found out that different types of fat stored in certain body areas play different roles in our bodies’ function. Additionally, they all have a different impact on our metabolism and overall health.

 The fitness rookie focuses on getting rid of the subcutaneous fat, which is the type that’s just beneath your skin and can be held together with the so-called “K pinch”.

This type of fat is made up of two separate layers, superficial and deep layer. The first layer that is just beneath your skin was the type of fat considered by nutrition scientists to be the first type to be used as a fuel source if food was not available. 

Those who overeat will experience the biggest increase in the superficial layer, while the people who are on calorie restriction will lose this layer.

If you had a poor diet and neglected physical activity, chances are that your body will start storing fat into other depots, like the deep subcutaneous layer. It’s been found that the deep layer serves multiple purposes.

 The first one being that it offers a protective layer from sudden environmental changes, softening minor collision impact against various sharp and solid objects.

 It is also crucial in controlling your temperature, having the role of an insulator against loss of body heat and the flow of warm or cool blood from and to the skin surface which can be drastically hotter or colder in comparison to your internal body temperature.

The deep layer also acts as an organ, by producing molecules similar to hormones, known as lipokines which control body inflammation levels, insulin resistance, and many others.

 It’s been found that the relation between the deep subcutaneous fat and insulin resistance and other illnesses is more pronounced in men than in women.

Inside our midsection, there exists another type of fat depot, which is often ignored, called visceral fat.

 This type has become the target of recent studies, since it’s been proven to be an especially strong indicator of development of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and many other health issues.

 As we already said about the deep subcutaneous fat layer, visceral fat produces lipokines which affect our liver, and impact our body’s inflammation levels.

This type of fat has a serious role in controlling the balance of energy and maintaining a healthy weight. Scientists are eager to find any possible type of meds which would target these different types of fat depots and have a positive impact on our weight and overall health status.

 Taking into consideration the obesity epidemic that has taken control over America and our culture’s obsession with body image, it’s no wonder subcutaneous and visceral fat have become an integral part of our vocabulary.
However, still have one more type of fat, that still hasn’t been mentioned on the news or “advertised”. 

This type is in a class of its own and is very different from the types we’ve mentioned so far. This mysterious type is known as “brown fat”.

The term itself makes it different from the type we hear a lot more often, which is “white fat”, comprised of visceral and subcutaneous fat. 

This type has long been believed to pose no issues in the human body since the only time people have it in any substantial amounts is while they’re babies. 

Brown fat is a lot more important in animals since it’s proven to be an essential surviving tissue in mammals that hibernate. The temperature in a mammal’s body is mostly generated by muscle action, which is generally the most active body tissue.

When the outside temperature goes down, the mammal’s body reacts by increasing the contraction of muscles, which mammals do voluntarily or by shivering. 

Muscle contraction is pretty inefficient from a metabolic perspective, with around 50% of the energy produced lost in the form of heat, instead of being used for moving an object (mechanical energy).

Trying to maintain or increase the body temperature is not an easy task. For example, this is one of the main reasons why people tend to lose weight while having a fever. 

The shivering which raises body temperature puts a much greater demand on our metabolism, which in turn dramatically increases calorie burning.
Mother nature has provided us with numerous examples of the conditions where mammals need to produce heat while being inactive.

 The most glaring example is hibernation. Animals like bats and some rodent species, which do hibernate, enter into a “deep sleep mode” which could last sometimes for months. 

You’ve surely heard of bears hibernating, but they aren’t thought of as real hibernators since they only slightly lower their body temperature which is near to their normal waking temperature and can be aroused very quickly.

This has left many researchers that were trying to sneak up on seemingly sleeping bears petrified. 

In a true hibernation, the body enters into an immobile state, very similar to a coma, where there’s almost no muscle contraction and the body temperature sometimes lowers to almost freezing levels.

 Bears, however, experience a decrease of around 12 degrees Fahrenheit; maintain their body temperature over the cool environmental conditions with the action of the tissue known as “brown fat”. 

They only thing brown fat has in common with other types of fat is that it’s full of globules of deposited fat when fed, and nothing else. It owes its name because of the high amount of blood vessels in it and that it’s filled with mitochondria, making it much darker. 

Mitochondria are the cells’ “energy factories” which produce the majority of energy in the form of ATP, so that the cells can function properly. 

The thing is that in brown fat, mitochondria are directed to produce heat instead of producing ATP, a process known as uncoupling. An analogy to this process would be when we’re holding down the clutch in a car with manual transmission.

 When you press or disengage the clutch, you uncouple the transmission from the car engine, and no power is directed to the wheels. In this case, if the clutch is pressed, the engine starts turning but doesn’t create any movement in the wheels. All the energy produces by the engine is lost in the form of hear.

Even if you press the gas, the engine will start turning faster but the car won’t move if the clutch is still uncoupled/disengaged. The energy coming from gasoline will be increased and more heat will be lost.

The mitochondria which are found in brown fat are similar to engines when the clutch is disengaged. In a normal state, body temperature is controlled by normal physical activity, leaving brown fat “quiet”.

 But, in hibernation, it has a lot bigger role in controlling body temperature, making the mitochondria a lot more active, the same as an engine that’s running at high revolutions per minute while the clutch is uncoupled/disengaged.

 The hibernating animals start burning more calories (analogous to gasoline), losing the energy in the form of heat. The heat produced spreads throughout the entire body via the bloodstream.

This brief overview of the basic physiology of mammals seems to offer almost no value to adult humans, since adults have very small amounts of brown fat, which is the main demographic group having weight maintenance problems.

 This doesn’t mean that benefits are non-existent, it just means that they’re limited. 

The brown fat that exists in adult humans is concentrated in specific small parts like the supraclavicular, mediastinal, cervical, paravertebral, suprarenal and para-aortic areas.

These specific areas are in the vicinity of big blood vessels, which is fairly logical since the brown fat remnants are likely to exist to control the core temperature in case the person is unable to move for a longer period of time or if he/she is exposed to cold outside temperature.

 Since the adult body assumes that it’s capable to produce a substantial amount of physical activity, it also assumes that there’s no need to preserve a tissue that demands a lot of energy and whose main and perhaps only function is to produce heat. This goes double in our modern age of air conditioners.