Brown fat, a formidable solution against overweight


The cells that make up adipose tissue (adipocytes) are not simply fat stores, but rather very dynamic cells that secrete a wide variety of hormones and cytokines essential for metabolic control.

Another aspect that contributes to the complexity of adipose tissue is the existence of two very distinct types of adipocytes, each of them having their own properties:

– “white” adipocytes, the most widespread and which are the main responsible for storing fat in the body;

– “brown” adipocytes, rarer, which on the contrary have the property of “burn” the energy of fats thanks to their high content in mitochondria, the “energy powerhouses of cells” (it is moreover this high quantity of mitochondria that gives cells their brown appearance). In brown adipocytes, the mitochondria specifically contain a protein called thermogenin (UCP-1) which blocks the conversion of fat energy into chemical energy (ATP) and instead causes heat to be produced.

Brown fat: baby fat

Basically, brown fat is therefore a biological adaptation that allows heat to be generated by response to a cold environment and this is why it is found in abundance in animals acclimatized to cold or in those who hibernate. In humans, brown fat is particularly important in newborn babies, most likely to help maintain body temperature following passage of the intrauterine medium (37°C) to the external environment. In adulthood, on the other hand, this brown fat becomes much rarer (approximately 200 g per person on average) and is mainly localized in the neck, above the collarbones, near the spine and the heart. It seems that thin young women have the highest amounts of brown fat, while obese or diabetic people have none or very little.

Brown fat burns more calories

Brown adipose tissue possesses the characteristic of “burning” a lot of calories and is increasingly considered as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity. A look at this brown fat, with its very specific properties.

Despite its rarity, certain observations suggest that brown fat could play an important metabolic role. For example, sustained exposure to cold significantly activates the metabolism of these adipocytes, leading to a substantial increase in the body’s energy expenditure. This property suggests that biochemicals or behaviors that specifically activate brown fat metabolism may contribute to the maintenance of normal body weight.

Activate brown fat

Two published studies suggest that this approach could be valid. For example, German scientists have shown that adenosine, a molecule involved in several normal physiological processes, very strongly stimulates the breakdown of fats in brown adipose tissue and promotes the transformation of white adipocytes into brown adipocytes. This transformation of white adipose tissue into brown fat has also recently been observed under certain conditions.

In the meantime, it must be remembered that obesity is not an inevitable disease, but rather a condition extreme which is directly caused by our bad lifestyle habits, especially excess calories. Instead of waiting for the discovery of a possible anti-obesity drug, it is far preferable to attack the problem at the source, by radically modifying eating habits and adopting an active lifestyle. For your waistline, of course, but especially for your health in general.


Ouellet V et al. Brown adipose tissue oxidative metabolism contributes to energy expenditure during acute cold exposure in humans. J Clin Invest; 122: 545-52.

Gnad T et al. Adenosine activates brown adipose tissue and recruits beige adipocytes via A2A receptors. Nature; 516: 395-9.

Sidossis LS et al. Browning of subcutaneous white adipose tissue in humans after severe adrenergic stress. Cell Metab. 22: 219-27.

Do you like our content?

Receive our latest publications every day for free and directly in your mailbox


burn calories white fat

Related Posts

10 Things You Can Rely On From Your Insurance Attorney

Dealing with the insurance company is really pathetic.  Especially when you are dealing with some severe injuries, things get complicated as you need to get your treatment done along with…

Read more

Mechanism of kidney damage caused by certain osmolytes uncovered

The mechanism by which certain osmolytes cause kidney damage has been uncovered by researchers in Japan. Using rat kidney cells treated with mannitol researchers were able to show that certain…

Read more

Inflammation of the pancreas: pain, symptoms and complications

The pain of pancreatitis manifests itself in a specific way and is a key symptom of this disease. The pain of pancreatitis manifests itself in a specific way and is…

Read more

The main causes of edema and how to treat it

Edema is the swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in the tissues of the body. It usually occurs in the feet, ankles, and legs, but it can also occur in…

Read more

Here are 7 effective ways to clean your lungs and breathe better

Techniques to clean the lungs can be beneficial for smokers, people regularly exposed to air pollution and those with chronic diseases that affect the respiratory system. Such as asthma, chronic…

Read more

The 7 Best Vitamins and Nutrients for Your Eye Health

Deficiencies in certain vitamins can increase the risk of certain eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research suggests that certain vitamin and mineral supplements may…

Read more