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Work out more to keep fat at bay

Work out more to keep fat at bay
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Tired of dieting, skipping meals and cutting on delicious fatty food? Here’s some cheer for all those tired of trying to shed those extra kilos. Scientists have identified a third type of fat that helps burn calories in adults. A finding, they say, that could speed up the development of effective treatments for obesity.

The calorie-burning tissue, called beige fat, is produced from ordinary ‘white fat cells’ that store energy and contribute to excess body weight. In addition, there is heat-generating ‘brown fat’ carried by infants to keep them warm.

Past research had suggested adults also had small amounts of brown fat, which helped to prevent obesity. The new work showed that what was previously thought to be adult brown fat is actually genetically distinct ‘beige fat’. Like brown fat, it has the ability to burn calories instead of storing them in waistline-expanding deposits.

Beige fat is now seen as a key target for new strategies to fight the obesity epidemic, the researchers said. A natural hormone made by exercising muscles, irisin, stimulates beige fat to burn calories nearly as effectively as brown fat, they found.

We spoke to city nutritionists and dieticians about the crucial find. ‘The new type of fat that the scientists have identified in adult human body actually helps to burn the extra calories instead of storing calories. These types of fat cells are in pea-size deposits and are scattered beneath the skin near the collar bone and along the spine of adult humans,’ said Dr Munisha Bhanot, diet consultant. ‘Beige fat cells can increase the ability of burning calories in two conditions: under the influence of cold or certain hormones like irisin. In the second condition, the hormone irisin is released from muscles while exercising. So, to burn calories, physical activity is one of the important factors. The more you exercise, the more fat you burn. This leads to more stimulation for beige fat cells to burn those extra calories,’ she added.

‘Beige fat contains an abundance of mitochondria that converts into energy and generates heat. It contains iron, which gives them their distinct brown colour. Beige fat has low levels of UCP1, but produces high levels when stimulated by irisin — a hormone released during physical activity which enables the body to turn white fat into brown and is been found to form within deposits of white fat cells from beige cell precursors,’ explains Dr Soumya, dietician, MCC Clinic.

‘There’s no prescribed formula to lose weight but including physical activity remains important. This revelation does not change the need for physical activity. To involve oneself in regular physical activity even for 20 minutes is the only way for a better body,’ says Dr Neelanjana Singh, Chief Nutrionist, PSRI Hospital.

Time to utilise your neighbourhood park properly?
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