Brown Fat: The Body Fat That Actually Keeps You Lean And How To Activate It

Research reveals more clues on how to reach your weight loss goals: activate your brown fat! Learn diet, exercise and lifestyle tips to help boost your brown fat’s calorie-burning capabilities.

A recent study confirmed that there are actually two different types of fat tissue (called adipose tissue) in the human body: white and brown.

Each type of fat has different functions:

  • White adipose tissue (white fat) cushions your organs, provides heat insulation and produces energy.
  • Brown adipose tissue (brown fat) regulates body temperature and plays a role in diet-induced thermogenesis, which essentially means that brown fat is involved in helping to burn calories.

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed 1,972 patients and over 3,640 consecutive F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET and CT scans to confirm and learn more about brown fat.

In the study, researchers found that “’…there appears to be more, or at least more active, brown fat in lean, young individuals than older, obese individuals; this suggests that having more brown fat may protect against obesity.’”1

According to Aaron M. Cypess, MD, PhD, with Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, these findings are in agreement with rodent studies showing that rats with higher levels of brown fat are protected from diet-induced obesity and diabetes.2

According to Dr. Cypess, the study on humans showed that people with more brown fat were not as obese as people who did not have as much brown fat. The brown fat takes calories and burns them up, which scientists feel makes brown fat an organ of energy expenditure.

Dr. Cypess further stated that the activity of brown fat can be tested and tracked. This  makes it a good place to focus when researching treatment and prevention strategies for obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Here are some of the study’s findings on brown fat based on age, gender, weight and lifestyle:3

  • Brown fat and gender: brown adipose tissue was found in 7.5% women and 3.1% men. According to the study, women appear to have a greater ability to increase the size and mass of brown fat.
  • Brown fat and age: brown adipose tissue was found more often in people under 50 years of age.
  • Brown fat and weight: brown adipose tissue was found in people who were the least obese.
  • Brown fat and lifestyle: brown adipose tissue was found more often in patients not using beta-blockers (a class of drugs used for conditions like cardiac arrhythmias, cardioprotection after heart attack and hypertension), those with the lowest fasting plasma glucose levels and those whonever smoked.

Can Brown Fat Make You Thin?

It appears that research is supporting that brown adipose tissue may actually help you stay thin.

How does it do this?

Brown adipose tissue is found around organs that have high metabolic activity, like your adrenals, liver and kidneys. The brown fat actually keeps these organs at a 98.6 degrees F. temperature, allowing their enzymes to work most efficiently.4

Your thyroid plays a role in influencing brown adipose tissue to fuel your mitochondria (producers of cellular energy) to produce energy, but this process also requires hormones from your adrenals.

Brown fat is your friend when it comes to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight because if you eat more than your body needs, it will burn off those excess calories as heat.5 It’s the brown fat that helps you burn those extra calories you might consume on a given day without gaining weight.

How to Activate Brown Fat

While brown fat does decrease with age, there is a way to make sure you keep your brown fat activated.

The key to activating your brown fat is a healthy thyroid and adrenals!

Here’s what inhibits brown fat and what you can do to activate it:6

  • Low thyroid and adrenal fatigue can inhibit brown fat activity – If your thyroid is healthy, it will create heat and activate your brown fat. But if you have low thyroid, your brown fat activity will be lowered as well. In conditions of low thyroid, like hypothyroidism, your adrenals no longer secrete enough of the hormone norepinepherine, which activates your brown fat. If you ever wondered why low thyroid makes you feel cold, this explains it.

    What you can do: You can nourish your thyroid and adrenals by following a healthy Body Ecology diet, including plenty of minerals and fermented foods and drinks. Unfortunately, even the best organic vegetables don’t have the mineral punch they used to. So while eating healthy is key, adding sea vegetables and supplements can give you a leg up on thyroid and adrenal health.

    Two great options are Ocean Plant Extract and Ancient Earth Minerals. To learn more about how these natural vitamin and mineral-rich whole food supplements can help boost your thyroid and adrenals, read: Russia’s “Miracle” Heavy Metal Cleansing Sea Vegetable and Why People – Especially Kids – Are Not Getting Enough Minerals (and What to Do About It).

  • OceanPlant Extract

    Want to help boost your thyroid and activate your brown fat? For a real, whole food source of vitamins and minerals that help improve your thyroid function, try easy, convenient Ocean Plant Extract. The key to Ocean Plant Extract is that it’s a whole food source of prized Laminaria japonica, the secret weapon of Russian doctors that saved thousands of innocent people from disease after nuclear fallout. Whether you want to boost your metabolism, balance your thyroid, improve your elimination, increase your energy, detoxify your body or boost your immunity, Ocean Plant Extract is your best bet!

  • Stress – Who isn’t stressed these days? We rush around so much that stress has practically become the norm. Unfortunately, stress inhibits your brown fat activity, so this is one more reason to reduce stress!

    What you can do: read How to De-Stress and Refocus on YOU to learn some tips for reducing stress and boosting your brown fat activity. The good news is, reducing stress is a great way to boost your thyroid, adrenals and overall health too!

  • Under eating or Overeating – Eating too little or too much can inhibit brown fat activity.

    What you can do: Before you eat, take a moment to slow down and listen to your body. Commit to taking some deep breaths and tuning into your true appetite. Instead of denying yourself food when you are hungry, like too many dieters do, carry healthy snacks for between meal hunger pains, like soaked almondsmiso soup or cultured vegetables.

    During meals, chew your food thoroughly and take your time eating. Give your body a chance to decide if you really need more food. Most of all follow your body’s signals for hunger, don’t let the cravings or worries of your mind control your body.

    We’ve heard from hundreds people following the Body Ecology lifestyle that they begin to get in touch with their natural appetite again. This is because Body Ecology helps you heal your digestion, so that your body can more easily absorb the nutrients it needs.

  • Sugar –high sugar diet reduces brown fat activity. Today’s diets are MUCH too high in sugar, so it’s no wonder that weight gain and obesity are on the rise.

    What you can do: Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with all natural, zero-calorie, zero glycemic index Lakanto or our always popular and best-tasting Stevia concentrate. These natural sugar substitutes allow you to enjoy the sweet taste without damaging your body or your brown fat activity.

  • Low-fat diets or bad fats – You’ve probably seen the headlines over the past few years that eating the RIGHT fats can actually keep you thin. Now you know why…because too little fat or the wrong kinds of fats can reduce your brown fat activity.

    What you can do: Instead, you can focus on high omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are key for brown fat activity. Great options are wild-caught fish (like salmon), fish oil supplements, like Omega-3 Mint Chewbursts and hemp oil. But make sure that the oils you use are organic and unrefined. Refined fats are stripped of their essential fatty acids and difficult for your liver to process. To learn more, read: Why the Processing of Consumable Oils has Devastated America’s Health.

  • Over exercising – Too much exercise can lower your brown fat activity.

    What you can do: Tune into your body to see how much movement you need. Create a plan that makes you feel good, but does not exhaust you. Walking and yoga are great options.

  • Too much or too little heat – If the temperature is too hot, you may not activate your brown fat. Likewise, you don’t want to get too cold.

    What you can do: While more research needs to be done on this, it appears that a cool temperature can activate brown fat. Researchers don’t know if this actually helps with weight loss or if people will overcompensate by eating more. If you experiment with this, keep the temperature a little cool, but not too cold and only for moderate amounts of time. You might also consider wearing a few less layers in the winter. But remember that the idea is not to create discomfort, so follow your body’s signals.

Another great tip is to drink green tea, which has been shown to help activate brown fat AND help you lose weight and detoxify.

Each of these tips gives you the triple benefit of activating brown fat and boosting your thyroid and adrenals…a gift your body will thank you for!


Albright, Ann L. and Stern, Judity S. Adipose Tissue. Department of Nutrition and Internal Medicine, University of California at Davis.

1 Brown adipose tissue: therapeutic target in obesity treatment? Cypess AM. N Engl JMed. 2009;360:1509-1517.http://www.endocrinetoday.com/view.aspx?rid=38872
2 ibid.
3 ibid.
4 Simontacchi, Carol, C.C.N., MS. Weight Success for a Lifetime. Basic Health Publications (CA: 2005). pp. 144 – 145.
5 ibid.
6 ibid.

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