Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The No Diet, No Exercise Way To Lose Weight

Pinch yourself and read it again. Oh yes, come to papa.

I had to read it twice - an article at New Scientist has potentially identified the way to lose weight without resorting to unnecessary physical exertion and not having to starve yourself on lettuce leaves, vitamin supplements and bowls of steam. Enter brown fat - the fat of the future.

Have you ever wondered why some of your friends can pack away huge quantities of food and not do as much as walk up the stairs but still don't seem to put on weight? Yet people like me, in the absence of sweaty sessions in the gym or straining on a mountain bike, can just look at a cake and it immediately transfers its calorific value to my waist without me even touching it. It seems just one of those amazing curses in life - I put on weight the moment I do not exercise - it's as simple as that.

Fat is adipose tissue and it is the stuff that makes my trousers and belt strain, my shirts tug underneath my arms and my chin to fold. It is the stuff that people pay small and vast fortunes to have sucked out and put in a bin - it is the stuff that overspills your trousers to form the unsightly 'muffin tops' so much the fashion in ladies young and old (why oh why?). It is the stuff that forms the large beer bellies so much the fashion in many men (why oh why?) that spills over their belts and stretches their slinky T-shirts. It is the stuff I have had a running battle with all my life.

Well cop this. Brown fat is the new fat - it's official. Some mammals have this stuff in abundance as brown fat turns normal fat into calorific energy or heat without expending any effort. Read it again and take a long sip of beer and then recline in front of the telly - it's Celtic v Arsenal after all. I'm being serious - this stuff exists.

It was long thought that adult humans didn't possess this brown fat stuff and that only babies had it. But new evidence shows that there is hope on the horizon as there are various zones in the body where this has been found in adult humans. Woohoo! And it is the difference in the amount of brown fat present in our bodies that defines whether we remain slim or become a fat bastard, to coin an Austin Powers phrase. Well now we may be calling skinny people fat bastards of a different kind and that may be a compliment rather than an insult. You can see I'm making this up as I go along.

There's lots of clever detail in the article which I recommend as one of the most uplifting reads of the year, forget the Richard & Judy selection for the book club, get New Scientist this week. You'll feel twice as better, believe me. However, suffice to say that a mere 50 grams of brown fat, which apparently is well within the kinds of amounts that we all possess, can burn off as much as 500 calories without so much as a strenuous effort to fart.

Oh I could wax lyrical about the fact that brown fat has different mitochondria which do different things to normal mitochondria but are all involved in energy release or thermogenesis but it would be far too boring. Suffice to say that brown fat burns energy without having to put any effort in. Bingo.

There is always a catch - I suppose there is really no such thing as a fat free lunch after all. Scientists have yet to conclude how to manipulate the amount of brown fat in our bodies and if that may be something that is risky. But they are hopeful that this may be an important breakthrough in the fight against obesity. For me, I just want to get thin without having to go to the gym everday - to hell with the muscles, just make me fit into my trousers more easily. The caveats go on - there may not be magic pills to sort the problem and it may be that brown fat alone is not the solution - but at last there is hope. Think how much this could save in gym fees, isotonic drink bills, spandex shorts and arm bands for your ipods. The possibilities are endless.

I sure hope that they bring some pills out very soon as I baulk at the thought of having to knock out some up unsuspecting thin person to try and extract their brown fat and inject into my buttocks.
But needs as must.

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