Image source: “Adipose Tissue”, Wikipedia.
Why does fat color matter? Isn’t fat just fat? It seems not. There are two colors of fat–white and brown. Natural “exercise” hormone transforms fat cells in Harvard Health Beat‘s June 23, 2012 issue describes the two types of fat and how the energy storing fat can be transformed to energy burning fat.
White fat is the adipose tissue referred to as body fat. It pads the internal organs, waists, bottoms, and dimples thighs. Each white fat cell is a large fat droplet that stores energy.
Brown fat cells are the energy burning cells filled with mitochondria. These cells burn energy to generate body heat. Babies are born with brown fat and it was believed that this fat starts disappearing in adulthood.
To lose fat, change the color of fat and have more brown and less white. The secret to color transformation is exercise.
According to this article, a team led by Dr. Bruce Spiegelmam, a professor of biology at Harvard Medical School, identified a hormone called irisin in both mice and humans. Irisin is produced by the body by exercise and it transforms white fat into brown energy burning fat–at least in mice. It is possible that the transformation also takes place in humans.
“This transformation helps the body burn more energy during exercise. The effect lingers, since brown fat cells keep burning fat even after you’ve stopped exercising. In addition, Spiegelman’s work showed that irisin also helps prevent or overcome insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes.”