Seasonal temperatures affect body fat

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

fall season
Cooler temperatures don’t just turn the leaves brown – they can increase brown fat!

When you’re focused on exercise and diet, it’s easy to see fat as an enemy, but don’t be fooled: not all fat is created equal. There’s both good and bad fat, and according to new research, the good kind is regulated by the temperature right outside your doorstep!

Wait a second, what exactly is the difference between good and bad fat? When we eat too many calories, our bodies take that extra energy and convert it into what is called white fat. This is the kind that sits right underneath the skin, and if a person eats too much regularly, it causes big bellies and flabby arms. For that reason, it’s also considered to be “bad” fat, and it’s often what people target when they want to shed extra pounds.

On the other hand, brown fat is responsible for taking energy and using it to create heat, typically by burning white fat. Since it also regulates insulin levels – a chemical in our body that converts sugar into energy – brown fat is considered “good” fat. It’s typically found layered on top of our organs, and according to new science, brown fat can increase by as much as 30-40% in the cooler months of the year!

To reach this conclusion, researchers kept study participants in a climate-controlled room for 10 hours a day over the course of 4 months. The room was held at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the first month, dropped to a chilly 66 degrees in the second month, raised back to 75 degrees the third month, and then increased to a sweaty 81 degrees in the last month. Overall, the levels of brown fat stayed normal during the months when temperatures were 75 degrees, increased during the chilly month, and then decreased during the warmer one.

The researchers hope to use this information to treat patients with diabetes – a condition marked by difficulty regulating insulin and blood sugar levels. It may also lead to weight loss breakthroughs, and at the very least, means you should keep cool as much as possible this summer! Then again, if you’re outside doing exercise, the benefits of burning calories are totally worth the heat.