It turns out there is actually a “good fat” in the body, and having more of it is a very good thing. This “good fat,” or brown fat as it is otherwise known, helps turn up your metabolism and burn calories.
Brown fat is referred to as metabolically active, because it removes sugar from the blood stream and increases calorie burn to keep the body’s core temperature at a constant level.
Cool night air may be the key
A study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which was published in the journal Diabetes, revealed that sleeping in a cooler room at night was linked with an increase in levels of brown fat. It has been known for some time that brown fat helps prevent diet-induced obesity and glucose intolerance in rats.
There has also been a correlation in human adults who have a higher proportion of brown fat with a tendency to be slimmer and younger. They also tend to have more normal blood glucose levels.
In the study, the researchers required the five young male participants to sleep for four months in climate-controlled rooms within the National Institute of Health Clinical Center. All participants were asked to sleep in hospital clothing and only under sheets. For the first month, rooms were kept at a steady 75.2 degrees. In the second month, the temperature was decreased down to 66.2 degrees.
Temperatures were raised back up to 75.2 degrees in the third month, and then raised even higher to 80.6 degrees for the final month. During the study, participants continued to go about their usual daily business, but their diets were regulated.
Warm air reversed the benefit
Researchers used PET scans to keep a record of the participant’s metabolisms. During the month that participants slept in the colder temperature, they did experience measurable increases in brown fat levels and insulin sensitivity. The increase in insulin sensitivity is important because it suggests a decreased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, during the month that the participants slept in the warmer temperature, the beneficial results of the cold month were reversed.
“Harnessing [brown adipose tissue] by simple adjustment of ambient temperature could be a new strategy in the combat against obesity, diabetes, and related disorders,” explained the authors of the study.
It should be noted that while the beneficial improvements in brown fat levels correlated with the time spent sleeping in colder temperatures, it is not proven that the colder temperatures directly caused them. It certainly does seem to indicate though that increased activity in the brown fat brought about an increase in insulin sensitivity.
Don’t count on cold alone
While the study shows an interesting promise that cold temperatures may boost weight loss, it is not a magic formula to solve weight issues all by itself. You still need to watch your dietary intake, and stay physically active for the best overall weight loss results.
-The Alternative Daily