A new study shows that coffee can turn on one of your body’s most powerful fat-burning mechanisms. The research team found that coffee activates brown fat, which speeds up your metabolism and triggers fat burning.
Scientists have known for some time that there are three main types of fat:
- Visceral fat is a type of fat that surrounds your organs and can impair their function and cause major disease.
- White fat is the kind of fat that functions as excess energy storage in the form of fat deposits below the skin — the kind that a lot of people want to get rid of.
- The main function of brown fat, or brown adipose tissue (BAT) is to generate energy and heat to keep you warm. Children have a higher proportion of brown fat than adults do.
You might think of fat cells as an inactive layer that waits to be broken down for energy, but that’s not the case. Brown fat operates more like an organ. In fact, when you need extra energy or warmth, brown fat turns on and has a key role in burning white fat for energy.
How to make brown fat work for you
The key to keeping extra weight off is to activate your brown fat as much as possible. Here are a few ways to activate brown fat and ramp up fat burning:
- Drink coffee. There is lots of evidence backing up the idea that coffee ramps up your fat burning mechanisms. (You can read about it here, here, and here.) This new study is just one more way that coffee helps keep your weight in check.
- Cryotherapy. Whether you make an appointment for a session in the cryochamber, you take an ice bath, or you flip your shower to cold for the last few minutes, lowering your core temperature signals to your brown fat that it’s time to warm up.
- Exercise. A protein called irisin helps convert white fat into brown fat, and a mouse study showed that exercise increases your irisin levels. When you have more irisin, a higher proportion of fat in your body contributes to fat burning and energy metabolism.
- Don’t cut calories. Cutting calories slows down your overall metabolism and signals to your body to slow down the rate at which you burn energy (aka burn fat). Plus, low calorie diets will end up making you gain weight in the long run.
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