"Brown Fat" and Cold Water Swimming

There’s been a rash of news pieces this week pertaining to “brown fat” which is apparently a type of fat that burns calories versus storing them. What I find particularly relevant is this:

In the third study, Dr. Sven Enerback, of the University of Goteborg in Sweden, used PET to examine how cold temperatures affected brown fat activity, this time in five people. Participants spent two hours in a room kept at 63° F to 66° F. During the scan, they submerged one foot in ice water, alternating five minutes in the water and five minutes out. The cold conditions boosted the amount of glucose the study participants’ brown fat consumed by a factor of 15.

Basically, exposure to colder water temperatures (like winter swimming) can accelerate calorie consumption by triggering higher metabolic activity within this brown fat. The article goes on to say:

The tissue [brown fat] could be a target for obesity-fighting drugs or even environmental fat-fighting strategies.

While I would disagree with the focus on developing new drugs, I personally recommend Lake Michigan swimming as an excellent “environmental fat-fighting strategy.”

2 Comments

  1. srhernan
    April 13, 2009

    I personally think peanut butter and bacon bagels should be required eating after every Ladder #1 swim…

  2. diver dave
    April 10, 2009

    ? ? ? if i eat alot of brown fat will i get fatter or skinnier??? what brown fat tastes the best ? Peanut butter and bacon sandwiches ? I am willing to be a guinnee pig to eat and sim in cold water….. It sounds like fun


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