For most people, fat bulges are something they don’t want. It makes our thighs jiggle, our clothes fit tight and look bad, and typically lingers despite our torturous attempts to eliminate it. Too much of it increases our risk for certain illnesses like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, so for decades researchers have looked for ways to reduce it.
Humans have two types of fat: white fat & brown fat, and understanding the differences between the two, can help people lose weight. “White fat” is the thin layer of blubber we see on the human belly. backs of arms and on the thighs. This particular fat acts as a thermal insulator, that keeps body temperatures stable.
Studies Show Exposure to Cold Causes Fat Cell Death
Increased exposure to the cold helps turn on our brown fat, helping people keep weight off and lessen obesity issues. Researchers have suggested more people turn down their thermostats for a few hours each day during the winter months, and published the study in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
When taking biopsies of patients’ fat deposits, scientists found that in the winter, belly and thigh fat showed greater signs of “browning” than did fat samples taken in the summer. This suggests that cold temperatures facilitate the transformation of white fat into beige. Most homes in winter are heated to around 69F (21C), but Maastricht University Medical Centre advises turning the thermostat down to between 62F (17C) and 59F (15) for a few hours per day. Experts say that because we spend so much of our time indoors in overheated homes and offices, it can cause our bodies to not naturally burn calories to keep warm.
An article inThe New York Timeshighlights a study where a group of men slept in a metabolic chamber that was kept at a mildly chilly 66 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at this temperature, the men had almost doubled their volume of brown fat, experienced an increase in insulin sensitivity, and even burned a few more calories throughout the next day.
This practice is known as “cold thermogenesis,” and can lead to doubling of the volume of metabolically active brown fat, an increase in insulin sensitivity, and the burning of more calories.