Light switch moment

You know that saying ‘Not all heroes wear capes’? When it comes to fat burning that’s especially true.

Our heroes of weight loss can be identified by one of two main outfits: gym wear or white coats.

The gym side might get most of the glory, showing us how to perfectly sculpt our bodies and guard against excess fat through sheer hard work, but in the long run winning the battle of the bulge may be as much labs as it abs.

For example, a team Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute appear to have discovered a switch in the brain which triggers the body’s inbuilt fat burning process.

Understanding how to affect this switch could open up whole new avenues to help us stay fit and healthy.

How does it work?

Special cells in the body can dictate types of fat, commonly referred to as white or brown. White fat is the type which is stored, while brown fat is the stuff we burn off as energy. It’s a sort of natural, internal traffic lights system.

The aim of the study was to better understand the process of how stored white fat is transferred into brown fat for burning.

They found that in most cases, after we eat, our bodies begin circulating insulin. The brain responds by sending a signal triggering the browning of fat.

Likewise if you’ve skipped a few meals. Your brain will automatically puts the word out to the adipocytes cells that it wants an increase in white fat for storage. The idea is to keep your weight and energy levels stable until you start eating again.

In short it’s a switch mechanism that responds to your eating habits to keep you at an optimum weight.

So what’s the problem?

In overweight people the switch appears to be stuck in one position. Regardless of whether you’ve eaten or not your brain will be giving orders to store fat.

So significantly less fat is burned off as energy, and an unwanted excess builds up.

Lead researcher on this study Tony Tiganis explains,

“What happens… is that the switch stays on all the time. It doesn’t turn on off during feeding. As a consequence, browning is turned off all the time and energy expenditure is decreased all the time, so when you eat, you don’t see a commensurate increase in energy expenditure – and that promotes weight gain”

I’m pretty sure that’s what I just said, but thanks Tony.

Scientists are now hopeful they can eventually learn to influence this switch in cases where it doesn’t function properly. If successful it would be a huge step forward in stemming the rising tide of obesity.

“Potentially we may be able to rewire this mechanism to promote energy expenditure and weight loss in obese individuals. But any potential therapy is a long way off”

Again with this, Tony?

It’s been proven that obesity is the catalyst for many life threatening health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes and various kinds of cancer, so any new approach to tackle it is incredibly valuable.

“Obesity is a major and leading factor in overall disease burden worldwide and is poised, for the first time in modern history, to lead to falls in overall life expectancy”



This is obviously an exciting development which could lead to the most efficient way yet to lose weight and stay fit and healthy.

But as you heard the head honcho say, fat burning at the flick of a switch may be a long way off. In the mean time you’ve still got some good old fashioned tools at your disposal.

Balanced diet, regular exercise and sensible supplementation are still the best way we have to guarantee your ideal physique.

If our brains won’t do it automatically then we’ll damn well do it manually. Even if they do, where’s the harm in helping things along?

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