Brown Fat vs. White Fat
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 something called 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 – the lucky bastards – have more.
Let's say you're carrying just 50 grams of brown fat. That seemingly paltry amount can burn an extra 300 to 500 calories a day, which is like jumping rope for a half hour. That's crazy good.
Because of its energy-burning potential, researchers have long sought out compounds or substances that would increase the amount of brown fat a human carries. It turns out there might already be a particularly powerful fat-converting substance around, and it's been under our noses the whole time.
This is a nutrient well known for its anti-obesity effects, but most of those effects have, to this point, largely been 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 have just discovered that C3G also turns white fat cells brown, meaning that ordinary fat-storing white cells are being converted into energy-burning brown cells.
Their paper, published recently in the Journal of Biochemistry, described how C3G "induced phenotypic changes to white adipocytes (fat cells)." These changes included increased mitochondrial content, which is the hallmark trait of brown fat cells. The C3G also promoted "preadipocyte differentiation," which means it coaxed cute, little 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.
And now it looks like we can add conversion of white fat-storage cells to brown energy-burning cells to its resume.
- 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.