Body fat, aka adipose tissue, can aid in fat loss. Sounds a little crazy, but it’s true. In fact, one of the ways that muscle tissue triggers fat loss is through activation of a specific type of adipose tissue.

You see, just like we have Type I and Type II muscle fibers working together to make you muscled, you also have two different types of adipose tissue: white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT). The WAT is bad and the BAT is good. While WAT is what you think of when you think of excess body fat, BAT is the beneficial type of adipose tissue – the “fat-burning fat.” BAT is only present in your body in small quantities, principally located where the neck meets the chest and along the spine.

While these types of fat differ in function, but function follows form, and form is where BAT really stands out. WAT contains few mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell), yet BAT contains high concentrations, likening it to muscle tissue. The other key component of BAT is something called uncoupling protein 1, or UCP- 1, which causes the mitochondria to burn fat without generating much functional energy. Instead, heat is produced – a process otherwise known as thermogenesis.

An example of this process in action is when the body core temperature drops due to cold environments, which triggers shivering, which stimulates BAT to generate body heat to warm you up. In truth, BAT and UCP-1 can be triggered by a few different stimuli other than the previously mentioned exercise and environmental changes. For instance, certain nutritional factors can promote UCP-1 activation.

The most effective is a compound known as 6-paradol, which is found in an herb called Grains of Paradise (GOP) that has traditionally been used in Eastern medicine. Existing research on GOP found it to significantly increase BAT activity, and supplementation with Grains of Paradise alone for four weeks in healthy men showed it to increase caloric expenditure to about 140 calories per day over baseline. Different from something ‘calorically expensive’ like exercise, however, is the fact that those 140 calories are predominantly coming from fat – while exercise will use a mixture of glucose, fat and even protein, depending on the type of exercise.

So whereas all other highly active tissues use a combination of fuel sources, BAT is unique because it is highly active like muscle tissue, but its primary fuel source is fatty acids. Does that mean BAT uses itself as a fuel source? No, BAT is non-cannibalizing – instead, it uses the fat already present in the bloodstream that comes from the diet or is released from stored WAT in the body.

So next time you cop a little chill or shiver think about what it’s doing for you – because it could be putting you on the road to leanness.

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