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Wellness Wednesday: Good Fat?

The goal in weight loss is to lose fat, right? Well there is one type of fat that you actually want more of, brown fat. Until recently it was thought that brown fat was found only in some animals and infants, but it is now known that adults carry some brown fat as well. This is significant since brown fat has a much greater metabolic rate than normal white fat. An important question then is can you increase your brown fat deposits? A study recently presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 73rd Scientific Sessions suggests that it is possible. Men who trained for twelve weeks on an exercise bicycle underwent a browning of their subcutaneous white adipose tissue. One of the researchers involved in the study, Kristen Stanford, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, commented that “our results showed that exercise doesn’t just have beneficial effects on muscle. It also affects fat. It is clear that when fat gets trained, it becomes browner and more metabolically active. Our work provides greater motivation than ever to get out there and exercise.” Studies with mice showed that brown fat not only increased their metabolic rate but was associated with increased glucose uptake and increased insulin sensitivity, suggesting it might help improve the management of or reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Who would have ever thought that one of the goals of exercise might be to develop “more” fat? But in the future we might be talking about increasing brown fat as much as we talk about preserving or building muscle.

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