Could being fat be a fat burning problem not a storage issue ?

orexin setting brown fat cell alightIf you’re a little rounder than you would like to be, you’ve got fat cell issues.

The standard response to a chubby profile is …………… YOU’RE EATING TOO MUCH !

After all, it is a mathematical rule………..

Calories in = calories out.

Breaking this rule, is what puts on the weight.

Calories count when you’re overweight

But the calorie rule is not an absolute.

For starters, skinny people pack in the food, without packing on the pounds. But for anyone who has a weight problem – calories definitely do count.

Which is why if you’re on a mission to lose weight, you need to be keeping close tabs on the numbers. And bear in mind, when you’re counting those calories, all calories are not created equal, which is why going low carb is a better way to lose weight, than low fat.

Body chemistry upsets the maths

But for some people with weight problems, the equation seems to not be working at all.

They actually eat very little, but they still pack on the pounds.

Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute think shortages of the hormone, orexin, may be too blame.

The orexin-obesity connection

The Stanford team created a special mouse with the help of a little genetic engineering, their special mouse was unable to produce the hormone orexin. The researchers spied on the eating habits of their mice while closely watching their weight.

The orexin-deficientmice were heavier than normal mice, but they didn’t actually overindulge, in fact, the little guys ate significantly less.

When the team looked under the hood, at the animal’s biochemistry, they found they were having problems generating heat i.e. thermogenesis.

The fact that they seemed to be running on a cooler setting, was attributed to the absence of brown fat cells.

Too many white not enough brown ?

Brown fat cells are fat cells that are chock full of mitochondria, which means they are supped up mini fat burning machines. This is in stark contrast to their paler cousins, white fat cells, which exist to store that self same fat.

In orexin-deficient mice, the brown fat cells failed to develop during embryonic development, leaving them with calories that could not be used up. The spare calories were thus stored, as fat layers.

Orexin injections fixed the problem

Fixing the problem for orexin-deficient mice was simple – a timeous dose of orexin corrected the deficiency, turning the fat mice skinny.

The researchers also found that dousing stem cells in the laboratory, with orexin, triggers the formation of brown fat cells.

So, instead of blaming your weight troubles on all the extra white fat cells you’re sporting, it seems you should be lamenting about your shortage of brown fat cells.

Could you be orexin deficient ?

I am not suggesting that you have some genetic defect that has robbed you of this largely unheard of, but clearly important, fat burning chemical. Your deficiency is unlikely to be in your genes, but it could be in your behaviours.

Orexin and its alter ego, hypocretin are sleep chemicals. And sleep, or more specifically lack of it, is a recipe for more fat layers. Sleep deprivation lowers your will power and mucks up your fat metabolism.

The other behaviour that could be creating orexin shortfalls could be your snacking habits. It takes the presence of amino acids, nutrients found in proteins such as eggs, to trigger the orexin alarm clock .

Give yourself a BIG orexin injection

You probably don’t need an expensive pharmacological intervention to “fix” orexin shortages, you just need better body chemistry.

Pay attention to how much sleep you’re getting and when – officially, you need 6-8 hours at night, don’t eat late at night and watch those carbs, aim to obey the rule of thirds.

Orexin Is Required for Brown Adipose Tissue Development, Differentiation, and Function. Cell Metabolism, 2011; 14 (4): 478-490 Dyan Sellayah, Preeti Bharaj, Devanjan Sikder.

Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind those extra fat layers ?

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Further reading

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Did you forget to pack away your winter fat layer ? Go blue this winter to be skinny and green A sleepless night stirs up insulin resistance in the healthy

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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