We want to lose it. We want to burn it. We want to trim it. We want to melt it off.

But fat isn’t a catch-all criminal waiting to gift us with a few more doughy pounds. Recent research shows not all fat is created equal, and in fact, some fat is good for us! Yes, in our bodies we have fat that helps us lose fat. This miracle blubber is called brown fat, and here is the nitty-gritty about it.

What is brown fat?

The typical fat that clings after a few extra Whoopie Pies is called “white fat.” It’s the stuff we’ve come to know and hate, and its main purpose is to store energy. While we can accumulate a large and unhealthy amount of white fat, our bodies can also make and store a source of fat (brown fat) that helps us break down stored fat, while playing an important role in boosting our metabolisms.

Why is brown fat important?

Brown fat comes packed with Mitochondria (the power sources for our cells) which gives it a darker shade. While regular white fat passively stores energy from our excess consumption, brown fat actually burns energy. Research has shown that the amount of brown fat is highest in babies and small animals because it helps to regulate the body’s core temperature by producing heat. In order to produce that heat, the body has to burn energy, which is why this type of fat is actually beneficial for us.

According to recent research, activated brown fat can increase our metabolism by 15%. For a typical adult, that means brown fat can burn up to 300 extra calories a day.

Exciting right? So how do we turn on and increase our brown fat stores? The latest research shows two ways to activate brown fat’s energy burning potential: exercise and cooling off.

In a recent study, participants who stayed in a mildly cool room (between 60 to 70 degrees) experienced the positive effects of increasing brown fat levels because it reacted to the change in temperature. When we are exposed to cold, our body needs to do something to keep us warm, and the first thing it does is produce heat. For brown fat to produce heat it needs fuel. Because of this, our stored fat gets consumed and we lose weight.

The weather is changing and things are cooling off. Get outside, exercise and chill out…literally. Let the cold be your friend and help your body burn off that extra fat!


Dr. Hilary Trojano

Summit Holistic Medicine

Exeter NH 03833