Feel the cold to burn the calories: Study

Updated: Oct 23, 2012, 21:50 PM IST

London: This will make you fall in love with winters!

Cold can trigger your body to form brown or `good` fat so that you can loose calories without having to hit the gym, a new study has found.

Researchers said humans are born with brown fat around their shoulder blades, which plays an important role in maintaining our body temperature as babies, by burning up calories and fat reserves to keep us warm.

Scientists have for long thought that brown fat disappears in infancy once its physiological uses have been exhausted, the `Daily Mail` reported.

However, five years ago, brown fat was `rediscovered` in adults, when researchers carrying out scans on adult patients in the winter months noticed areas of fat that seemed to be turned on by the cold weather.

Their scans detected a few ounces of brown fat in the upper back, on the side of the neck, in the dip between the collarbone and the shoulder, and along the spine.

Since then, brown fat has become a rapidly growing area of interest among researchers who believe it could hold a vital key to weight problems.

It`s now believed that not just the cold, but certain foods can also activate it.

The study led by Professor Michael Symonds from the University of Nottingham`s Queen`s Medical Centre has suggested some simple ways to activate brown fat in the body.

Turn down the heating and put on a jumper if you feel really cold, Symonds suggested adding, "We need to feel the cold to burn calories."

"We are on the threshold of what could prove really significant advances in obesity research," he said.

Add chilli peppers to food - the active ingredient capsaicin, according to him, has been shown to trigger brown fat into action.

He suggests people who want to lose weight should avoid the gym and instead take a walk, go for a cycle or just skip outdoors on a cold day. Doing so can gets brown fat working.

Symonds said outdoors exercise of any kind is beneficial.

Dairy products - yoghurt, milk and cheese are thought to be important in activating brown fat, the report said.