Trying to lose weight but worried about fats you consume?
Give yourself a break, because fat is VITAL.
But it does not mean you should reach for the ice cream tub just yet.
Kinds of fat
FAT is an organ, just like our heart and lungs, and is spread over our entire body.
The largest fat masses are found in the belly and just beneath the skin in areas such as our faces, feet and upper arms.
But we have two kinds of fat — white and brown.
The main one is white. It provides energy when no food is available for an extended time. Brown fat converts calories into heat, and in this way can help you lose fat.
Fat provides our other organs with a continuous supply of fuel. It also produces countless hormones to communicate remotely with organs such as the brain.
For example, it produces hormones that curb your appetite if you’ve just eaten a big plate of chips.
When we are underweight, our fat does not produce enough of certain hormones. This hormonal imbalance has various effects and can result in infertility.
If we are overweight, our fat releases too many hormones that interfere with all kinds of bodily processes.
Conditions linked to being overweight include Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, infertility, depression and also some kinds of cancer.
Learning to increase the effects of our brown fat can boost our metabolisms and help us lose weight.
Try these ways to “train” this fat.
Train your fat
Brown fat is sensitive to cold and remember, there is nothing wrong with being cold once in a while, so try these tips every day:
- Use cold water for the last few minutes of your shower to switch on your brown fat stores. The cold water will also strengthen your immune system and boost your mood.
- Take a cold bath occasionally. It promotes fat loss.
- Turn down the heating by a few degrees for a few hours every day, without putting on a sweater. Recent research revealed that when healthy young men were exposed to a temperature of 17C (just below room temperature) for two hours a day for six weeks, they lost nearly two pounds of body fat.
- Allow children to play outside without a jacket more often. It will boost their resilience as well as their brown fat stores.
- Exercise outside rather than in, especially when it is chilly. Exercising outside also lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and gives us a much-needed shot of vitamin D.
- Eat red pepper and drink coffee and green tea. These have been shown to activate brown fat.
Feel full for longer
If you find you are always hungry, there are things you can do to help you feel full for longer.
Some foods send your brain stronger signals than others to let it know you are full.
Foods such as egg, oatmeal or unsalted nuts are great to have at breakfast and will leave you feeling full until lunchtime.
Where possible, add half an avocado or legumes to your lunch.
Have a cup of low-calorie soup or glass of cold water before meals.
Fermented products such as pickled gherkins and chilli powder boost your metabolism.
You should also eat slowly, chew properly before swallowing and be mindful of each bite.
Tips such as eating from a smaller plate, using smaller utensils and portioning the food on to plates in the kitchen will encourage you to eat less.
And choose the smallest portion you can — research shows that people eat 35 per cent more if the portion size is doubled.
- FATS are the most important fuel for most organs, because when they’re burned, they provide the most energy – even more than sugar.
- Our body fat is made up of 50billion little elastic balloons known as fat cells.
- Too little sleep can make you fat. Research shows even one night of fewer than five hours disrupts hunger hormones.
- Certain medications, such as antidepressants and beta blockers, can have weight gain as a side-effect.
- Our body fat provides us with much-needed energy when no food is available. You can live off your fat for a long time.
- We make around 220 food choices a day – and they are often unconscious. These choices are driven in part by the food in your immediate environment and the way in which your body responds to this. If you see a delicious doughnut or smell a freshly baked cake – or even just think about one – your mouth might start to water.
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