Naturally lean people have more energy-burning brown fat than energy-storing white fat. So can we increase our brown fat? Yes. Here’s how.
If you’re relatively lean, you probably got that way with exercise and good eating habits. But some people don’t train hard or watch their diets, and they’re even leaner than you! How’s that happen? Well, naturally lean people often have superb insulin sensitivity and a generous heaping of brown fat.
Unlike regular white fat, which stores calories, brown fat is filled with ravenous mitochondria that burn energy and release heat. Everybody has some brown fat, but naturally lean people have more.
Let’s say you’re carrying just 50 grams of brown fat. That tiny amount burns an extra 300 to 500 calories a day, which is like jumping rope for 30 minutes. That’s crazy good.
Because of its energy-burning potential, researchers are looking for compounds or substances that increase the amount of brown fat in humans. It looks like they’ve found it: C3G.
This is a nutrient well known for its anti-obesity effects, but most of those effects are chalked up to C3G’s effects on selective insulin sensitivity, insulin signaling, and glucose and nutrient management in general. (These same traits also help give the compound its famed muscle-building effects.)
However, Japanese researchers discovered that C3G also turns white fat cells brown, meaning that ordinary fat-storing white cells are converted into energy-burning brown cells.
Their paper, published in the Journal of Biochemistry, describes how C3G “induced phenotypic changes to white adipocytes (fat cells).” These changes included increased mitochondrial content, the hallmark trait of brown fat cells. C3G also promoted “preadipocyte differentiation,” which means it coaxed baby fat cells into going brown.
All of this helps confirm that C3G – sold as Indigo-3G – is awesome on several different levels. It has profound effects on insulin sensitivity and management, is hugely anti-inflammatory, and, as a flavonoid with diverse antioxidant and nutritive properties, probably has dozens of yet-to-be-discovered effects on overall health. Now we can add conversion of white fat-storage cells to brown energy-burning cells to its resume.
Want to know more? Here’s a deeper dive into C3G.
- Matsukawa T et al. Increasing cAMP levels of preadipocytes by cyanidin-3-glucoside treatment induces the formation of beige phenotypes in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. J Nutr Biochem. 2017 Feb;40:77-85. PubMed.