A New Way to Burn More Calories

Everyone wants to know how to burn more calories without doing any actual work.  It’s the American way.

We want a way to lose weight that doesn’t require exercise and doesn’t require avoiding that fast food value meal or the drive-thru donut shop.  We want a supplement or drug that is going to do it for us that doesn’t have any side effects (I can almost hear Huey Lewis in the background….).

In reality, these requests just aren’t going to work.  Eating junk food is never going to be lead to weight loss.  Exercise is required all the way down to your DNA.  Weight loss supplements, regardless of the ingredients, are usually only good for a handful of pounds over 6 months.  And you know how I feel about drugs.

That being said, there ARE some approaches that may be able to help with little work on your part.  Whole body vibration may assist some of the more inactive of us to help firm up and lose some weight.  There are laser lipo devices that can actually help shrink your belly fat.  Capsacian from hot peppers may spur weight loss.

This particular article adds another approach to the short list of things that take little effort that may help you lose weight.  But before we go into the specifics, we need to have a short discussion about brown fat.

Brown fat is mostly known for it’s role in bats and babies.  Basically, in brown fat, the mitochondria (there’s my favorite word again) burns calories but does NOT produce ATP to be used later for energy.  The process is called uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation and generates heat instead.  That’s how babies and bats can stay warm.   The protein that performs this function is called UCP-3 and has been the target of drug companies for many years, to date unsuccessfully.

It is thought that, as we move out of babyhood that we lose the brown fat we had as an infant.  But what if this wasn’t the case?  What if we could “bring it back” so to speak?

Researchers here tried to do just that.  Here’s the specifics:

  • 17 healthy subjects were exposed to 10 consecutive days of 15–16°C (about 60 degrees F) for 6 hours a day.
  • It is already known that, when put into a colder environment mammals will work to maintain a constant body temperature by means of shivering to generate heat.
  • However, upon prolonged cold exposure, shivering will gradually decrease, but energy expenditure remains elevated, indicating increased heat not due to shivering (NST).
  • After the cold exposure, non-shivering heat generation went up from 10.8% before the exposures to 17.8% afterwards.
  • In the subjects, there was a 37% increase in the volume of the brown fat in their bodies.
  • After cold acclimation, the environment was judged to be warmer and more comfortable and that self-reported shivering decreased during cold exposure according to the subjects.

I’m not saying you should set your programmable thermostat up to some crazy schedule, but, with a little creativity, we might be able to use this metabolic response to our advantage.  Unfotunately, for those living here in Phoenix, AZ, I’m pretty sure we’re SOL.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.