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Thermogenesis of brown fat increases with eating
Because brown fat cells consume energy, they could be the key to losing weight and important for preventing overweight and diabetes. Researchers have now been able to demonstrate that brown fat is activated by eating.
Brown fat helps you lose weight
Last year, US researchers reported a new fat-off patch that is said to help you lose weight by converting white fat, which normally stores energy, into brown fat, which burns the energy. A medical plaster designed by researchers from Singapore, which was able to reduce belly fat by more than 30 percent, is also based on this effect. And just a few months ago, a study was published that showed that people with a significantly higher proportion of brown fat do not become overweight despite a higher food intake. Now researchers have shown that brown fat is activated by eating.
Energy from storage fats is burned
Brown adipose tissue in humans has been the subject of numerous scientific studies because it has the opposite function of white adipose tissue, which stores energy in the form of storage fats, the so-called triacylglycerides.
Brown fat burns the energy of these storage fats (thermogenesis).
The activity of this physiologically particularly beneficial adipose tissue changes, however, and decreases with age, just like with obese and diabetic patients.
For this reason, ways are being sought to fuel thermogenesis with brown fat and to use it to prevent obesity and diabetes.
Improved blood sugar control
In this context, only one option was previously known: cold-induced thermogenesis.
"Studies have shown that the subjects who spent hours in the cold chamber every day not only increased the heating power of the brown fat in the cold during the course of the cold adjustment, but also improved the control of blood sugar by insulin," explained Professor Martin Klingenspor from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in a message.
In cooperation with an international team, TUM scientists have now been able to demonstrate that eating increases the thermogenesis of brown fat, and not just cold, as previously assumed.
The results of the study were published in the "Cell Metabolism" magazine.
How brown adipose tissue is activated
For the current study by the University of Turku (Finland) in collaboration with international experts, including Professor Martin Klingenspor and his team from the Else Kröner-Fresenius Center for Nutritional Medicine at TUM, it was examined how a carbohydrate-rich meal affects the activity of brown adipose tissue affects.
"It was shown for the first time that the heat build-up in brown adipose tissue is activated by a test meal as well as by exposure to cold," summarizes the researcher.
According to the information, the same subjects were examined twice for the study: once after exposure to cold and a second time after eating a high-carb meal. There was also a control group.
Before and after, important markers for thermogenesis were measured, including not only glucose and fatty acid intake, but also the oxygen consumption in brown fat.
Indirect calorimetry was used in combination with positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET / CT).
Energy is wasted
"Ten percent of the energy consumed per day is lost due to the thermogenic effects of food," explains Prof. Martin Klingenspor.
This postprandial thermogenesis after eating is based not only on the obligatory heat build-up due to muscle activity in the intestine, secretion and digestive processes. Apparently there is also an optional part to which the brown fat contributes.
Another subject of the investigations will now be to find out whether it is simply energy that "evaporates" or whether this phenomenon has another function.
"We now know that activating brown adipose tissue could be associated with a feeling of fullness," says Klingenspor. This should now be shown by further studies. (ad)