The Fat You Want: Brown Adipose Tissue
BOOST METABOLISM AND EASE INFLAMMATION WITH THE HELP OF THIS METABOLICALLY ACTIVE FAT
By: Sakara’s In-House Nutritionist Colleen Coffey, MS, RDN, LDN
When it comes to improving overall health, shedding body fat is a common recommendation. But, did you know there are some kinds of fat that actually have body-loving benefits—and things we can do to promote more of it?
Below, we break down why brown adipose fat tissue is more beneficial than the rest, and ways in which we can nourish a healthy body and supported system (from ice plunges to our science-backed Metabolism Reset).
The Two Kinds of Fat Tissues
White Adipose Tissue
When we picture fat, white adipose tissue (WAT) is what most often comes to mind. This type of white/yellow fat tissue is typically the most abundant type in our bodies, and often continues to accumulate over time due to factors like overeating ultra-processed and refined foods, having an imbalanced microbiome, or imbalanced/resistant hormones. Consisting of lipid storage cells, its key role is to store energy as fat.
WAT can accumulate in one of two places: directly underneath our skin (subcutaneous fat) or deep inside the belly, wrapped around the organs, including the liver and intestines (visceral fat). The more visceral fat we have, the higher our risk for conditions like stroke, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. It’s not WAT itself that’s problematic, though, but rather the adipose tissue macrophages (ATMs)—immune cells located within the fat tissue that can inflame your body’s tissues and organs, and ultimately alter their daily function. These ATMs become central players in obesity-associated inflammation and metabolic diseases.
Brown Adipose Tissue
Unlike WAT, brown adipose tissue (BAT) is metabolically active fat tissue. Instead of accumulating energy, it burns energy and generates heat thanks to its abundance of mitochondria and unique expression of the uncoupling protein 1, or UCP1 (which enables it to be specialized for energy expenditure and thermogenesis).
While most of our BAT peaks at the time of birth, we can still support our bodies in generating brown adipose tissue and boosting our metabolisms. One common way to do so? Cold exposure. Cold exposure stimulates the tissues, releasing the hormone and neurotransmitter norepinephrine, enhancing metabolic activity, and mobilizing fatty acids (a.k.a. burning fat).
Another way to boost our BAT (and bodies)? Turn WAT into BAT via diet and lifestyle—or “beige” our fat.
How to “Beige” Fat
“Beiging” fat is a phenomenon that increases metabolically active BAT within existing WAT. It’s not only therapeutic for the body to shift energy-storing WAT into energy-burning BAT, but also maximizes our health outcomes in the process. (Among other things, beige adipose tissue has then been shown to stimulate weight loss and promote obesity resistance.)
Below, a few ways to support your body in beiging fat:
- Incorporate Metabolism Super Powder—rich in theobromine, which is known for supporting WAT beiging—into your daily rituals. We love frothing it into coffee or plant milk, or adding it to smoothies.
- Eat a vibrant, plant-rich diet (like what you get on our Metabolism Reset) that’s abundant in plant chemicals that support the generation of BAT.
- Use cold exposure, like ice plunges or cold water bursts at the end of a shower, to stimulate hormones that induce the shift of WAT to BAT.
- Add joyful movement to your day-to-day, which will help activate the hormones that induce the beiging effect on fat tissues.
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