Saying someone still has their baby fat is usually an insult. But I’m going to tell you why it is actually a very good thing…
There are three distinct types of fat that we store in our bodies-
The white fat is the most common. We need some to cushion our organs and keep us warm and healthy. But an excess leads to unsightly bulges and decreased health in just about every area. We all know this, right?
There is another kind of fat that we actually want to increase– brown fat. We are all born with high amounts of brown fat as an adaptation to help us regulate body temperatures until we are able to generate heat through shivering.
I actually saw a show where young parents and their baby were caught out in the cold for about two weeks. They all survived but the parents lost their toes to frostbite. The baby was totally fine, other than some dehydration. Possibly due to the much higher amount of brown fat that baby had access to.
We all start out with abundant levels of brown fat, but this is one instance were if you don’t use it, you lose it. Adults have far less brown fat, especially if they aren’t having to work to keep themselves warm on a regular basis.
Simply having brown fat torches calories. But activating brown fat through exposure to cold annihilates calories. Brown fat has been shown to gobble up glucose in the blood stream and even burn white fat to generate warmth. In one study 12 young men sat in a cool, 63 degree F room for two hours a day. Initially they burned an extra 108 calories. But by the end of the study, 6 weeks later, they were burning an extra 298 calories! Their bodies had adapted by converting white fat to beige fat. Brown fat consumes, or burns, 5 times more energy than white fat. By increasing your brown fat levels, you will be able to burn far more calories at rest. You’ll be leaner with a faster metabolism! Brown fat is also packed with mitchondria, which we want for optimal health. In fact, brown fat is brown due to the high levels of mitochondria!
Exposing yourself (not that kind, if you get arrested for streaking, don’t blame me) to cold is just one way to increase brown or beige fat. You want to be cool enough to feel it without being cold enough to shiver.
In the winter we keep our thermostat between 63-65 degrees. At first it feels chilly but we get used to it quickly. I usually just wear a t-shirt. People who visit often complain and ask me how I’m not freezing. But it feels comfortable to us and we keep our heating bill down. Cool temps at night also lead to deeper, more restorative sleep.
There are other ways you can increase your brown fat as well. Exercise turns on genes that lead white fat conversion. Deep sleep is a factor as well. Drinking green tea also seems to play a part. Getting outdoors more helps as well as reducing stress in your life. Basically healthy practices we should all be doing anyways.
But it could be as simple as turning down your thermostat and taking cool showers. It’s worth it, I promise!!!