Studies have shown weight loss can be linked to low temperatures. Previously, researchers in Japan found that people who remained in temperatures of maximum 62.9 degrees Fahrenheit for a mere two hours a day could expect to lose body fat after a period of six weeks. Now the correlation between climate and loss of body fat was reiterated in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, an online medical journal. However the research team in the Netherlands at the Maastricht University Medical Center went one step further and sought to discover more about how the body’s fat works in combination with colder climates.
The body has two types of fat, brown and white, sometimes called yellow. Infants naturally have a plentiful store of brown fat that burns easily to help the body sustain itself in cold weather. Adults were believed to have much less brown fat than babies. When adults involved in the research study were placed in refrigerated rooms, the research team noted that the brown fat enabled the participants to survive the cold. The researchers turned down the heat to 59 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of 6 hours. The surprising presence of more brown fat than previously thought enabled the adults to become readily adjusted to tolerating the chilly room. In essence, brown fat could be called the body’s inner radiator. Brown fat got its name because the cells’ energy source’s mitochondria is darker than in the white fat. Contrary to white fat, brown fat is believed to be healthy as it diminishes white fat by using the body’s energy stocked in the white fat. By consuming up to 30 percent of the body’s energy, brown fat can eat into body weight resulting in weight loss.
The potential of the research done on brown fat is already being commercially exploited. The diet book The Brown Fat Revolution was brought out in 2009. Penned by James R. Lyons, MD, the prescribed diet advocates six meals a day, no processed food products and exercise. This weight loss program does not, however, indicate that there are artificial ways to encourage brown fat to work harder in the body thus eliminating white fat to promote losing pounds. Weight loss linked to low temperatures renders it feasible to lose weight without altering diet or exercise habits. The catch is submitting oneself to two or more hours a day of frigid room temperatures or going outdoors with inadequate clothing in winter is not very appealing to most people.
The research team in the Netherlands suggests that by avoiding too large a gap in between the outside temperatures and indoor heating, the body maintains a healthier equilibrium. “Physiological studies now show that the cold can be healthy.” Mr. Lichtenbelt said. In any case, economically speaking, lowering the temperature could lead to less belt-tightening measures to pay the heating bill. However to ascertain weight loss linked to low temperatures, experts agree that a varied and healthy diet is still key to shedding pounds.
By Persephone Abbott