Living Slimmer: Increasing Brown Fat Works Better than Fast Weight Loss Tips

Fitness Programs in Brentwood, TNStarla Asher  RN, MSN

Just because folks living in or around Nashville frequently search for fast weight loss tips, not everyone is caught up achieving the Hollywood image. Most of us, studies show, simply want to look a little better than our age would reflect. Overall, we don’t think of looking and feeling more youthful as a destination but a journey. Usually, people just want to feel good about what they look like in the mirror. Despite this, the sad truth is we are our own worst critics. We, men and women alike, frequently beat ourselves up when we carry around a few extra “vanity pounds.”

The men and women of Nashville, TN, may exercise regularly. We count calories, avoid bread and pasta, and sometimes try rather ridiculous fad diets. Then, we get frustrated when all the fast weight loss tips don’t actually change the scale. Nashville and Middle Tennessee residents come to us at Cool Springs MD not knowing what to do next.

Unfortunately, our inner critic never pays attention to all our positive habits and ways we are getting it right. That inner critic just sees those extra 5-to-20 pounds as an actual enemy. He or she whispers, “You look awful! Lose some weight!” Isn’t it crazy that it’s often those same few pounds that have haunted us for years and that same voice continues to beat us up?

What if I told you that fat is not bad? And, what if I said that you could add one or two tweaks to your life to accelerate your weight loss? Like most people, you’ve probably got some really good habits in place along with a few bad ones. What if a few lifestyle tweaks dramatically launched you into living a slimmer lifestyle? What if I also said you don’t need to sacrifice one more calorie or exercise one minute longer? What if I said it could easily be introduced to your already busy week? Are you all-in as I am? Here goes!

What is Brown Fat?

I asked a friend today if she knew there is two kinds of fat. She laughed and said, “Yeah! There’s cellulite and deep fat.” Her answer detailed the locations of fat but not the type of fat. Like my friend, you might think that fat is fat and there is no difference. There ARE two very different types of fat in our bodies with an important distinction. This distinction will open your eyes to the fact that it’s neither about fast weight loss tips nor about fast weight loss exercises. It’s about making small lifestyle adjustments in order to talk nicely to that person in your mirror.

Brown Fat: What is brown fat? Think of brown fat as the “good fat” or desirable fat.  It is made up of small droplets of lipids and mitochondria. Pulling from high school science, you might recall that the mitochondria are the “powerhouses of cells.”  It’s the cell’s engine. The iron found here along with the tiny blood vessels causes this type of fat to appear brown.

Here’s what makes this fat special: 1.) It helps keep our blood sugar balanced. When our blood sugar is out of balance, as in the case of diabetics, we eventually will see damage in cells throughout the body. 2.) Brown fat plays some kind of role in bone strength and health. 3.) It plays a role in building more muscle. 4.) It is highly efficient at burning calories. Even though most adults only have a couple of ounces of brown fat, it burns many more calories than white fat. In fact, it burns 300 times more energy than white fat!  5.) Brown fat actually burns white fat. 6.) It is our temperature regulator. Brown fat helps to actually BURN calories in order to produce heat. It does not store calories. It only gets rid of them. Brown fat burns calories!

Depending on our age and the time of year will depend on how much brown fat we have on hand. As babies, 5% of our fat is brown.  It is powerful when it is allowed to do its job. (Animals who hibernate have brown fat as well.) As infants, it gets us through the early stages of adapting in our new world without the umbilical cord and warming oven. But here’s the remarkable thing scientists understand as we age: Adults who have MORE brown fat are more slender and younger looking than adults with less brown fat. So, now you’re screaming, I want some extra brown fat, right?

White Fat:  White fat is made up of a single lipid droplet, a single mitochondrion and many fewer blood vessels than brown fat. This provides it a white appearance. Overall, it’s not nearly as exciting. It does have many purposes: It insulates and cushions our organs, it produces estrogen when our body senses low levels, produces leptin which tells us when we are hungry, contains hormone receptor sites, and is an energy source when food is scarce.

Here’s the really bad news associated with white fat: Location, location, location. Men usually store it around their middle. Women store it around the hips, buttocks and thighs before age 40. Then woman begin to store white fat around the middle as they age. When white fat is stored around the middle, it puts us at significantly higher risk for cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Also, excess white fat throughout the body puts us at added risk for sleep apnea, cancer and physical disabilities. Finally, too much white fat causes our limited supply of brown fat not to work properly. The brown fat won’t burn calories like it does when there is more ideal percentage of white fat.

Steps to getting more brown fat

  • Here’s one of the best reasons I know to get a full night sleep. When your body creates more melatonin, the melatonin regulates your stores of brown fat.
  • Exercise helps to produce more brown fat and causes brown fat to become more active.
  • Apple skins contain ursolic acid which creates more brown fat.
  • Do not starve yourself.
  • Drink a ½ liter of ice water first thing in the morning, 20 minutes before eating breakfast.
  • Apply an ice pack (with a barrier cloth between pack and skin) to back of neck for 30 minutes in the evening.
  • Start by ending your showers with cooler water. Eventually, end with cold water. With time, you’ll adapt to taking cold showers. To make it more tolerable and to prevent uncontrollable shivers, try avoiding cold water on your head and hair at first.
  • It pays off to be cold! Turn down the thermostat, 59-62 degrees. When white fat gets cold on a regular basis, it becomes brown fat! So, spend time as much time as possible outdoors during cooler months. In the warmer season, keeping the indoor temperatures low a few hours per day can achieve this. With time, your body will adapt.
  • Keeping your white fat percentage in a healthy range and not overeating helps brown fat to function better and burn more calories.

Steps to getting more white fat

  • Eat more calories.
  • Burn fewer calories.
  • Sleep less than 7 hours a night.
  • Bundle up, sit on the couch, eat ice cream out of the carton while watching The Biggest Loser (Yes, I admit I’ve done that!)

What is the take away?

Please go a little easier on yourself. Weight control is a process. Living a slender lifestyle is all about making healthy choices, one decision at a time. It’s not about finding the best fast weight loss tips! Maintaining a healthy BMI is important. We’re finding that having a healthy waist-to-hip ratio is an even better indicator of ideal cardiac health and reducing the risk of  certain cancers.

So, making some simple daily modifications that don’t consume any additional time can help you to maintain a slimmer frame. They can create a healthier you, and ultimately give you a better quality of life. Think of them as “lifestyle tweaks” and promise yourself to NEVER again “diet.”

After waking, I’ll drink a ½ liter (17 oz) of ice water 20 minutes before I eat breakfast. Have a shower with 5-10 minutes of cold. Eat breakfast around 20-30 minutes after drinking the ice water. In the evening, I’ll get an ice pack and place it on the back of my neck or a bit lower for 30 minutes. I can wear cooler clothing while exercising under colder temperatures. I can sleep a little longer with the thermostat a bit lower.  I have to eat anyway so I’ll eat a few apples along the way. I won’t under-eat nor will I over eat. Doing these things cannot harm me. These things may, in fact, make all the difference in the way I view my reflection. So come on Nashville…Are YOU all-in yet?