The use of brown fat – more often understood as an organ which absorbs energy to produce heat –
was proven to be encouraged through the consumption of black coffee, in a recent study which revealed that people burnt more calories after drinking it.
Undoubtedly, there are alternative ways of promoting the use of brown fat, including lowering the bodily temperature to create what’s known as a negative feedback loop – this activates the brown fat to increase the overall temperature and restore the body back to it’s regular conditions. Simple ways of lowering the body temperature include taking cold baths or showers, however a paper published in Scientific Reports proposes the more straightforward approach.
Michael Symonds, of Nottingham University, claims that encouraging people to take cold baths and showers is more likely to come with complications. He says: “We have done studies that have asked volunteers to take cold showers. And it’s difficult to get people to agree and persist with that. They’d rather not. They prefer a cup of coffee.”
Professor Symonds designed an experiment which involved a group of individuals drinking a 200ml cup of coffee, containing around 65mg of caffeine. Smaller doses of caffeine, including a can of Diet Coke (330ml) contains 42mg, and one cup of tea contains approximately 25mg. There is 80mg in one 2oz double espresso shot, and 50mg in a tablet of Pro Plus. Symonds states that only a small increase in caffeine consumption, such as drinking a single mug of coffee, could have a significant effect.
Professor Symonds’ further research supported his original ideas – within cells in a petri dish, the use of brown fat was promoted through pathways activated by caffeine. Studies built on this initial discovery led to volunteers who consumed caffeine finding that brown fat around their necks was activated, consequently increasing their overall body temperature and burning fat.
A separate study, conducted by Sam Virtue, of Cambridge University, says: “Brown fat has by miles the highest energy expenditure per gram of any organ. If we can turn it on in people, we can burn off fat. This could make them lose weight and also lower glucose levels in the blood to make people who are obese less diabetic.”