Most of us think that burning fat requires sweat. Lots of sweat. We run on treadmills, suffer on the elliptical, struggle with the weight machine, just hoping to burn some of that pesky fat. Did you know that there’s an easier way to burn fat? Just turn down the thermostat!
Dr. W.D. van Marken Lichtenbelt at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands recently published the results of his research in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. His study found that an easy way to burn fat is to make the body colder. He does not propose ice baths or rolling around in the snow naked (ouch!), but rather a slow decline in household temperature to the mid 60’s.
It turns out that we have two general types of fat: white fat and brown fat. This “cool room” technique targets the brown fat in our bodies. That’s because brown fat has cellular powerhouses called mitochondria, which generate heat. In contrast, the white fat pretty much just sits there.
The brown fat can be triggered to generate heat by exposing the body to cooler air temperatures. The mitochondria in the brown fat cells generate heat, and by doing so, burn themselves up. Ta-da! No more fat cell.
For best results, Dr. Lichtenbelt recommends varying the room temperature rather than setting it lower and leaving it there. In a cool environment, our bodies can become accustomed to lower temperatures pretty quickly and therefore reduce the burning of these brown fat cells. So nudge your thermostat up and down randomly across your day, or move from warm room to cool room occasionally.
You may shiver once in a while, but the loss of fat will give you a nice inner glow!