Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Fat that Makes You Thin

As frustrating as learning statistics at my age can be, it's all worth it when I realize that understanding stats and the way they are used is crucial to one of my very favorite things in the world: reading about scientific studies. I especially love studies on obesity, in case you hadn't noticed.

For example, today's NYT reports that scientists have discovered that we all may harbor a special kind of fat that actually burns calories. It's called brown fat, and it was previously thought to only exist in humans in babies, but it turns out that we all may have it. It burns calories because the body uses it to help regulate temperature. Rats exposed to cold temperatures for a week "activated" their brown fat and started burning calories like a bad mamma jamma.

So, even though it's still pretty rainy and cold here, I'm breaking out my sleeveless tops. This serves two purposes--one, sleeveless shirts show off my bis, tris, and delts, and two, going sleeveless will keep me chilly enough so I can burn some extra calories. This is essential, since my bike accident is keeping me from doing any meaningful cardio and I have an irrational (no, come to think of it, actually quite rational) fear that my lack of exercise will have me weighing 170 again in no time.

Of course, someone always has to be a buzz kill. The brown fat researchers noted that "while mice lose weight if they activate brown fat, it is not clear that people would shed pounds — they might unwittingly eat more, for example." No DUH! We're a people who use any excuse to ingest more calories, even the presence of healthy items on fast food menus.


MamaShift said...

I normally lose weight best when I exercise in the cold -- but it has to be below freezing...way below, like -10°C at least.

So glad to know you're doing better. My mom said, "I just saw her on her bike." And I was, like, "When???" And she said it was several days ago. I thought you were already back on your bike -- and I was going to have to come over there and wring your obsessed neck! :-)

coriander said...

I read "sleeveless shirts show off my tits" which made me go "Oh my!" and put my hand over my mouth until I read a little closer. I slipped into my first tanktop of the season a few days ago but currently my house is at 64 degrees and I'm back to sweaters.

Miriam said...

But 64 degrees is perfect for activating your brown fat! Go sleeveless and you can eat a super carne asada burrito for dinner every night.