Carrying More of This Fat Could Help You Shed Weight

by Dr. Richard Foxx

When it comes to weight gain, weight loss, weight management, and your overall health, there seems to be a constant battle between brown and white. For example, brown bread is a much healthier option than white bread; whole wheat pasta is more nutritious than white pasta; whole oat or steel-cut oats offer more health benefits and are better for your body than instant, refined oats; and dark chocolate provides nutrition that’s absent in milk chocolate.

Generally speaking, when it comes to nutrition, darker is better.

Basically, this is because white foods are more starchy and sugary. A white potato is a less-healthy alternative to a sweet potato, which is darker in color. The same rule applies to the foods listed earlier and a number of others. The difference is that white foods tend to be higher on the glycemic index (GI) scale, resulting in faster sugar absorption and a boost in blood glucose levels.

This spike in blood sugar does a couple of things: First, it causes your pancreas to become overworked, creating sugar highs and lows. This results in feelings of hunger, which means you’re likely to eat more calories, sooner. It also makes it difficult for all the sugar to be properly absorbed and used constructively, often being stored as fat. Brown foods, on the other hand, don’t exhibit the same kind of metabolic response. Because they are typically very low on the GI scale, they are absorbed more slowly, don’t cause a spike in blood sugar, and keep you full and energized for longer.

But those are just the things you put inside you. What about what’s already there? Well, it appears humans also have white and brown fat cells and their differing functions can have an impact on your ability to lose and manage weight. In fact, the more doctors understand brown fat, the more likely it is that they will find new treatments to battle the obesity and diabetes epidemics that are facing the nation.

It’s interesting because white and brown fat function in a relatively similar way. White fat cells—which are far more abundant—change in size and accumulate in humans offering little-to-no benefit.

When you see a person who is “fat,” it’s the white fat cells that cause this appearance. They are dormant in your system. Brown fat cells, however, when activated, fire up your metabolism. They burn calories. When activated, a brown fat deposit the size of a sugar cube can burn between 6.6 and 8.6 pounds of fat, per year, on its own.

So how do you activate brown fat cells? Therein lies the challenge. It appears brown fat cells in humans are activated mostly by exposure to cold temperatures. It’s almost as if they are survival fat stores, kicking into gear when our bodies need them most. When they are activated, body temperature rises as the metabolism goes to work.

It’s also apparent that brown fat cells are not created by one’s diet. Rats fed a high-fat diet accumulated and witnessed growth in white fat cells, but not brown.

Doctors recently discovered they could locate brown fat with an MRI scan. This development means they can work on ways of targeting and activating brown fat cells, so they can be turned on and provide metabolic stimulation. Based on evidence of how brown fat works, this could lead to big developments in the treatment of obesity and diabetes. However, there is still plenty of work and research to be done to discover if there are any brown fat precursors besides temperature.

When it comes to losing fat and lowering the risk of obesity and the multitude of health problems that come along with it, it’s wise not to hold out for any revolutionary developments. At the end of the day, diet and exercise are the best and most effective ways for the majority of people to lose and manage their weight. Focus on eating healthy foods and getting some exercise every day in order to take control of your weight. Why wait for something that might happen when you can start today with a proven model?

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Richard M. Foxx, MD has decades of medical experience with a comprehensive background in endocrinology, aesthetic and laser medicine, gynecology, and sports medicine. He has extensive experience with professional athletes, including several Olympic competitors. Dr. Foxx practices aesthetic and laser medicine, integrative medicine, and anti-aging medicine. He is the founder and Medical Director of the Medical and Skin Spa located in Indian Wells, California, at the Hyatt Regency Resort. Dr. Foxx is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and is a member of the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine, the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine, the International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology, and a Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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