Brown Fat vs White Fat: What You Need to Know
Body fat is something we've all come to fear, particularly the white fat that we've seen in images on the internet. White fat clogs our arteries, adds a bit of extra heft to our midsection, and makes up look dumpy. It's the stuff that we try our hardest to get rid of, but did you know that it's not the only type of fat? There's also brown fat, another type of fat that you need to know a bit more about!
About White Fat
White fat is the type of fat that accumulates after eating too much for too long. When you eat more calories than your body burns in a day, it turn the excess calories into a type of fat that can be burned for energy later on. That white fat is fairly easy for your body to access, and it gives you that energy boost you need when you're running, lifting weights, or training hard.
Your body can store A LOT of white fat. Most of the fat around your body is white fat, which comes and goes as you overeat or diet and exercise.
About Brown Fat
Brown fat, on the other hand, is a different type of fat. Instead of storing A LOT of brown fat, your body only accumulates a small amount of this fat. It's stored at the base of your neck, and it turns out that the brown fat in your body has an important role to play in your metabolic rate.
You see, brown fat is packed with the mitochondria that provide the energy for your body's cells. In fact, the mitochondria are what give the brown fat its color. White fat has no mitochondria, so it is just energy waiting to be activated by your body. Brown fat, on the other hand, is stored energy, but it also burns fat as well. It's filled with blood vessels like all of your organs, and it helps to regulate your body's internal temperature.
How does it regulate your body's temperature? Well, when it needs to heat things up, all the brown fat does is burn a bit of the white fat stored around your body--a process known as thermogenesis. Activated brown fat--meaning brown fat that is working--can burn up to 15% more calories per day than normal. That means that this brown fat is actually able to help you lose weight, something that it's white fat cousin would NEVER be able to do. While white fat is inert and waiting to be burned, brown fat gets working!
With a 15% increase in calorie burning, that means your brown fat can burn 300 calories more per day. That's the same as jogging for half an hour, or lifting weights for 15 to 20 minutes. Plus, it turns out that brown fat may even play a role in regulating your blood sugar levels, meaning it can help control diabetes.
According to research, there are two ways to activate the brown fat. First of all, there's exercise, though why exercise works to activate that brown fat scientists still aren't certain. However, the second way to activate that brown fat is to make yourself a bit cold. When you are cold, your body reacts by warming itself up, which in turn activates the brown fat. You only need to be in a room with a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees, and the brown fat will get working to keep you warm. It's a nifty trick that can help you to burn A LOT more calories every day!