Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that exposure to cold temperatures increases levels of a newly discovered protein that is critical for the formation of brown fat, the type of fat in our bodies that generates heat. With extended exposure to cold air, the protein, called transcription factor Zfp516, also helps the more abundant white fat in our bodies — the kind that stores excess energy — become more similar to brown fat in its ability to burn energy.

The researchers found that mice with boosted levels of the Zfp516 protein gained 30 percent less weight than control mice when both groups were fed a high-fat diet.

Unlike white fat, which stores excess energy, brown fat burns energy to keep us warm. Brown fat gets its hue from relatively high levels of mitochondria, the cell’s power station. In humans, brown fat was thought to be present only in infants, but stores of it were recently discovered in adults around such vital areas as the heart, brain, neck and spinal cord.

The study authors said that because we generally live our lives in controlled, ambient temperatures, our need for brown fat has decreased over time. It has been noted that outdoor workers in northern Finland who are exposed to cold temperature have a significant amount of brown fat when compared to same-aged indoor workers, but overall, the percentage of brown fat in adults is small compared to white fat. Obese people have lower levels of brown fat.

Brown fat is active, using up calories to keep the body warm. It’ll burn fat, it’ll burn glucose. So the idea is that if we can harness this, we can try to use this in therapy for weight loss and for diabetes.

-Molecular Cell

Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec’s comments on “Want to Lose Fat- Get Cold:

The simple things are usually the best. In this study they found that if they exposed mice to cold air it stimulated a transformation of white fat which is stored calories that is very inflammatory into health promoting brown fat which is burned for heat similarly to putting logs in the fireplace to warm the house.

So what is the answer? If you live in a colder climate do not dread the winter and cold temperatures but instead get outside and exercise in them. This can be as little as a 30 minute walk to full out cross country skiing. It is important to understand you are constantly giving your cells messages and they listen to those messages and act accordingly. If the cells get the message of cold then they transform inflammatory white fat (which is nothing more than stored calories that one could do without) into health promoting brown fat which not only produces heat in the body but also kicks the body into a fat burning mode. In this study even when they fed the mice a high calorie diet, when they were exposed to the cold they did not gain weight.

So the take home message is this:

  1. Keep it simple in life– live the simple Seven Basic Steps to Total Health.
  2. See good in everything– What the world system and worldly people mean for evil God means for good. Remember Joseph’s brothers did him wrong by selling him into slavery but in the end Joseph became the second most powerful man in the world. What was the key in his journey? Two things- first he had to trust God and keep his eyes fixed on the vision that God had given him. Second he had to have a heart of forgiveness. If Joseph would have failed on either of these we would not have fulfilled his God appointed destiny.
  3. See stresses in your life as weights to grow you stronger in body, mind and spirit. Cold will strengthen your body and make it healthier. Cold can also balance your attitude which can allow the Spirit of God to flow through you more powerfully. Whether you eat or drink (or go out for a walk in -20F weather) or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God and watch yourself grow healthy and strong in body, mind and spirit.

So in the winter, in the bitter cold remember when you go out into it you are burning fat, getting rid of inflammation and becoming healthier for it.