Brown Fat - It's Hot!

by Scott Thomas August 08, 2016

Brown Fat - It's Hot!

There are a few types of fat in the human body. Let’s get into it!

  • Fat below the surface of the skin is called subcutaneous fat
  • Fat around the internal organs is called visceral fat
  • Fat in the bone marrow is called yellow bone marrow
  • Fat in muscles is called (you can guess..) intramuscular fat
  • Fat around your blood vessels is called peri-vascular fat
  • Fat is also present in breast tissue
  • and then there is brown adipose tissue (BAT) or simply brown fat

Most fat is white. Most animals also have brown fat. Brown fat essentially comes from two places

  • Brown fat is associated with muscle tissue
  • Brown fat can be made by white fat if properly stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system.

Brown Fat is abundant in three scenarios

  • Newborns have a lot of it
  • Hibernating animals have a lot of it (think caloric restriction)
  • Super athletic humans have more of it

Brown fat is hotter than white fat
Seriously; brown fat is more thermogenic – meaning more metabolically active.  It keeps you warm which is why babies have more of it. Brown fat is brown because it contains more mitochondria (energy producing organelles) than white fat. Brown fat is correlated with a higher metabolic rate and therefore better fat homeostasis.

Brown fat burns the calories stored in white fat
It is for this reason, that scientists postulate that brown fat stimulation could have very positive effects in humans. In fact, increasing brown fat may reverse diabetes.

How do I increase my brown fat?
One proposed way to do this is through cold exposure. There is a lot of new science on ice bath training or cryotherapy as a way to burn fat and also boost immune function and workout recovery. One study conducted in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that ninety six percent of men exposed to cold had detectable brown fat activity.

Other options for increasing brown fat are not overeating and lowering the thermostat in your home or work. Laboratory studied nutrients that may increase brown fat include fish oil, garlic, resveratrol, red pepper, EGCG (from green tea), fucoxanthin (from seaweed) and melatonin*.

Laird Hamilton and the rest of our team at Laird Superfood are avid cold exposure enthusiasts. Wim Hof, a cold exposure record holder, has taught us several techniques over the last couple years. Most of us have added ice baths to our daily routine, one of the key side effects that none of the participating members have been sick in years since starting the ice training.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  

Scott Thomas
Scott Thomas


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