Brown Fat Weight Loss
Health Benefits of Being Cold: The ATLANTIC Jan/Feb 2015 Issue
Many new research studies are examining the benefits of stimulating brown fat, the common name for brown adipose tissue, using the natural method of cold exposure. Ice vest or cooling vest products have started to appear on the market that are promising brown fat weight loss. The author tried out an ice vest that holds cooling packs and found that brown fat weight loss using a cooling vest “…carries some unlikely promise.”
A fascinating example of how mild cold exposure combined with exercise requires a massive calorie intake is the often cited example of Olympic gold medalist, swimmer Michael Phelps. In his training leading up to his record medal run, Phelps reported that he was eating 12,000 calories a day. This is many times the average daily need and even thousands more than other elite athletes training for other sports. A former NASA scientist who has studied the effects of cold on the body concluded that Phelps being exposed for hours-on-end in cold water during training was burning extra calories through brown fat activation. That same scientist started a routine of cold showers and long walks in the cold without a shirt losing 26.7 pounds in six weeks. It is a simple concept that cold exposure causes the bodies’ need to turn on brown adipose tissue and even convert white fat into beige fat to maintain core temperature leading to brown fat weight loss.
Could obesity be caused less by a lack of exercise and more by a combination of overeating and chronic lack of cold exposure in our controlled temperature indoor environments? Some experts have proposed that this is true and caused by what they call a “metabolic winter.” Human evolution for millions of years was subject to the forces of food scarcity and cold. Modern lifestyles with central heating and air conditioning are very new, a matter of seconds, on an evolutionary timeline. Not only are we as humans experiencing the effects of this change, but you can see the same problem with the pets we keep indoors.
Thankfully, it is mild cold that actually triggers the non-shivering thermogenesis response by the body that increases the volume and activity of brown fat and even converts the bodies’ bad white fat into calorie consuming beige fat. That will make it possible for a cooling vest that is a comfortable temperature instead of ice cold effective and widely used for brown fat weight loss.