Adipose tissue is associated with overweight, unsightly appearance and the risk of many diseases. Do you know, however, that we can divide body fat into good and bad? Good fat, i.e. brown adipose tissue, is metabolically active, and its task is to maintain normal body temperature. White adipose tissue is a storage of energy in the form of lipids and it is excess baggage in the form of excessive body weight.
White and brown adipose tissue perform different functions and have different properties. Check the details!

White and brown adipose tissue – differences

White adipose tissue is designed to store energy and produce hormones that are secreted into the blood. A certain amount is necessary for the proper functioning of the body. One of the main hormones produced by white fat cells (adipocytes) is adiponectin, which affects metabolic processes, sensitizes tissues to insulin, and also has anti-inflammatory and antiatherosclerotic effects.

When there is too much white fat in the body, the production of adiponectin is slowed down, resulting in a higher incidence of metabolic diseases and type 2 diabetes. Cells forming white adipose tissue have a much larger volume than brown adipocytes and accumulate larger amounts of fat. 95% of the volume of white fat cells are lipids in the form of a single follicle, which increases as a result of their accumulation, while in the brown fat cell there are 30-50% of lipids and occur in the form of numerous and small droplets.

Brown cells are distinguished primarily by a large number of mitochondria and better innervation and blood supply. These cells are much more active. The main difference in the functionality of fat cells is that white adipocytes store fat, while brown ones use it to produce energy.

It is thought that in adult organisms, brown adipose tissue plays an important role in maintaining healthy body weight and preventing insulin resistance. Its amount is variable, it decreases with age and weight increase.

Larger amounts of brown fat are found in women and people exposed to cold, e.g. working in the open air. It was also noticed that very physically active people, like athletes or swimmers, are characterized by more brown fat cells in the body.

For many years, it was thought that brown fat was only found in newborns and young children as an additional safeguard to maintain normal body temperature. Studies from recent years using modern measuring methods have shown that brown fat is also found in adults, but in much smaller amounts. First of all, it can be found in the supraclavicular region and neck.

It is likely that brown fat cell groups and even individual cells are scattered in white adipose tissue. This is good news, especially for people who have trouble maintaining a healthy weight.

Brown adipose tissue is even seen as a medicine for the obesity epidemic. Why? It all boils down to their metabolic activity and strong ability to utilize fat accumulated in white adipocytes. It follows that the excess of ‘bad’ fat can be combated by increasing the amount of ‘good’ fat in the body.

How to increase the amount of brown fat?

Scientists from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine came to interesting conclusions. They conducted a study on a group of people covered with thermal blankets in a room where the temperature gradually decreased from 26 ° C to 12 ° C.

The energy expenditure of study participants increased by an average of 48%. In addition, in people who began to tremble with cold, muscle activity increased by 88%. At the same time, the levels of irisin – the hormone responsible for developing brown adipose tissue – were examined. During the cooling of the body, its level increased significantly.

Fortunately, cold is not the only stimulator of brown adipocyte production, so you do not have to opt for cryotherapy to support your weight loss efforts. The level of irisin secretion was also tested during exercise.

The amount of hormone was similar to that produced during body cooling. This is a simple conclusion – physical activity not only improves muscle condition but also transforms white fat into brown. A group of scientists from the Joslin Diabetes Research Center in Boston under the direction of Kristin Stanford also investigated the effect of exercise on brown fat. The results of studies conducted on mice and also on a group of men who regularly use physical activity are very promising.

Men regularly rode a bicycle for 12 weeks, while mice ran on a spinning wheel for 11 days. An increase in the content of brown fat and its increased metabolic activity has been observed in both humans and mice.

In animals, the newly formed adipose tissue was transplanted into mice that were not physically active. These mice increased glucose tolerance, increased insulin sensitivity, decreased body weight and fat mass. The positive metabolic effect persisted for two to three months.

… genes from the father lead to the development of white fat. Immediately under the influence of genes from the mother, brown adipose tissue develops.


The discovery was made by a team of prof. Jan-Wilhelm Kornfeld from the Syddansk Universitet (Denmark) with researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Cologne (Germany) and the Medical University in Vienna (Austria).

What is beige adipose tissue

Up to a point, brown and white fat cells were thought to be derived from the same type of stem cell. However, this thesis proved to be incorrect. However, it was found that, depending on the needs, the precursor cell can transform into a brown fat cell or skeletal muscle cell. So the brown fat cell is in some respects very similar to a muscle cell (numerous mitochondria, fast energy consumption). In such a situation, it seemed logical that mature white fat cells could not turn into brown fat cells.

In his study on rats acclimatized to low ambient temperature, Saverio Cinti from the University of Ancona in Italy, however, showed that white adipose tissue can transform into brown in the process of transdifferentiation. The number of fat cells did not change, while the newly formed brown cells differed somewhat in morphology from the classical ones – originally formed from the precursor cell. They were called beige adipose tissue and found the same functionality as for brown adipose tissue. These results show that the formation of brown fat can be stimulated even in adulthood.

Brown Fat Cells – the Cure For Obesity?

Research by Joslin scientists indicates that brown adipose tissue is an important metabolic organ, whose presence may support the treatment of diseases resulting from obesity – insulin resistance, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It was also found that transplantation of brown fat cells resulted in increased expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6). Previous studies have shown that IL-6 increases energy expenditure and has a positive effect on weight loss. It is not known if the same effects can be obtained when transplanting brown fat cells in humans, but there is a good chance that these adipocytes can be used to treat obesity and diabetes.

The results of research by independent teams of scientists indicate that an increase in the content of brown fat in the body has a positive effect on metabolism and weight loss.

Numerous studies indicate that the higher the body weight, the lower the amount and activity of brown fat in the body. Also, people with type 2 diabetes have a reduced amount of this tissue relative to healthy people. The results of research by independent teams of scientists indicate that an increase in the content of brown fat in the body has a positive effect on metabolism and weight loss.

The formation of brown fat cells in the adult human body is possible through regular physical activity. Before we get an obesity medicine that undergoes clinical trials, do everything to increase the level of good fat in your body. Take care of your daily movement and you will help yourself overweight and ailments resulting from excessive weight.