Is Weight Loss through Fat Browning Possible?

Black women looking at her stomach holding her jeans out

Did you know that we have two kinds of fat in our bodies? We have brown fat and white fat. Brown fat is baby fat. Or, as the scientists say, BAT for brown adipose tissue. It’s brownish in color due to being packed with iron-rich mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles of a cell. Burning brown fat creates heat and burns calories.

Unfortunately, most of our brown fat disappears by the time we reach adulthood. Our body retains a small amount of brown fat, typically stored as small deposits in the shoulder and neck.

White fat, or WAT for white adipose tissue, is the typical fat that accumulates around our organs and middle. It keeps us warm by insulating us. It’s also what makes us fat and can lead to an increase in the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. Because white fat has fewer mitochondria, it stores fat better than it burns fat.

But, what if we could increase the amount of brown fat we have as adults? And, is there a way to change WAT to BAT and increase our ability to burn calories, lose weight, and reduce high blood sugars?

Experimental studies show that we can change recruitable WAT to beige adipose tissue (which behaves like BAT) under certain conditions. Drugs called thiazolidineiones, norepinephrine, sildenafil, and exercise and exposure to cold temperatures can all stimulate a transformation of white to beige fat.

Studies show that if you wrap men in a cold suit that circulates water at 64 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours or sit them in a cold room around 63 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours, they will burn more calories than men in a normal temperature room. If you did that six days a week, it’s estimated that you could lose a pound or two a month. It will take a lot of dedication to follow that program!

There’s got to be an easier way to increase BAT.

Neora, a company that offers science-based products used for skin and hair care, is now offering products for weight management. It launched Neorafit, a three-powder-packet a day approach to “help you achieve your ideal weight.” The fine print on their web page does say “when used in conjunction with a calorie-controlled diet and exercise program.” And, it gives the necessary and reasonable disclaimer that “individual results may vary.” The first packet, added to whatever beverage you like in the morning, contains what is touted to support “your body’s fat-browning process.”

According to the ingredients, the powder contains collagen derived from fish, a controversial supplement that may or may not improve hair and skin. (That discussion is worth a blog or two.) Additionally, it contains medium-chain triglycerides, green coffee beans, and tea leaf extracts. Let’s look at each ingredient.

Green coffee beans are unroasted and naturally green. They contain chlorogenic acids which are antioxidants. When you heat coffee, most of the chlorogenic acids are lost. Research data does show that chlorogenic acids may boost fat metabolism. A study from Iran with obese women who ingested 400 mg of green coffee bean extract each day for 8 weeks, along with an energy-restricted diet, did show improved weight and body composition. And a 2020 study in India shows that chlorogenic acid promotes fat browning. So, maybe there is some clinical promise here. We found no human studies to confirm this is a clinically significant effect, however.

The proposed active ingredient in green tea is generally considered EGCG, a flavonoid. However, we found no scientific evidence that it browns fat although it does have other thermogenic or energy-burning effects.

Medium-chain fatty acids, the type derived from coconuts (the Neorafit package sites coconut as an ingredient), do seem to be able to brown fat, although we found no clinical studies involving humans that suggest it works in people. Consequently, it is impossible to determine an effective dose.

So, overall, the Neorafit fat-browning claim may have some merit as it contains ingredients capable of fat browning. However, like much in the world of supplements, there is no documented proof the effect truly works.

What we do know is that there is more to weight loss than simply burning more calories than you consume. If you’ve struggled with weight loss despite diet and exercise, Advanced PainCare’s Wellness Evaluation is a good place to start. In addition to the basic blood chemistry, our evaluation looks at hormone levels, inflammatory markers, and your thyroid levels – all of which can impact your ability to lose and maintain your ideal weight. Learn more by scheduling your wellness evaluation.

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