Carolina Holistic Medicine | Functional & Alternative Medicine | Charleston, SC

Is all Fat the same?

Is all Fat the same?


We have two types of fat.  White fat and brown fat.  Brown fat breaks down blood sugar (glucose) and fat molecules to create heat and help maintain body temperature.  Cold temperatures activate brown fat, which leads to various metabolic changes in the body.  Most of our fat, however, is white fat, which stores extra energy.  Too much white fat buildup will lead to obesity.

Most of us have both white fat and brown fat in our bodies.  Infants have a good bit of brown fat to help them maintain proper body temperatures (heat).  As we get older our ratios of white to brown fat change.  Very simply, white fat stores energy and calories while brown fat burns energy and calories generating heat.  Because brown fat burns calories to generate heat, it is often referred to as the “good” fat.

“Classical” brown fat is found in highly vascularized deposits in certain anatomical locations, such as between the shoulder blades, surrounding the kidneys, the neck, and supraclavicular area, and along the spinal cord.  This is the smaller of the two types and has numerous small lipid droplets.

Brown fat is activated by exposure to cold temperature.  People that are obese cannot simply start taking cold showers to lose weight without changing other lifestyle habits.  But taking a cold shower 2 or 3 times per week may contribute to increased metabolism.  Research has shown that cold showers (and exposure to cold in general), in addition to increasing metabolic rate directly, stimulate the generation of brown fat.  Brown fat is a specific type of fat tissue that in turn generates energy by burning calories.

Dietary and lifestyle modifications can manipulate white and brown fat.  There are about 10 to 12 know foods that can help burn white fat or make brown fat burn calories.  There are some herbals as well.  The spice Turmeric’s active ingredient curcumin is one such herb.  Curcumin has many health benefits.  Another way with which curcumin enhances health is with weight loss.  Curcumin can affect weight loss by transforming the white fat into brown fat.

Peptides can also affect white and brown fat.  Let us help you modulate your white and brown fat to help you realize proper weight loss.

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