Here’s some good news for colder climate dwellers. According to new research, people who live in chillier climates may produce more brown fat.

Scientists have discovered that individuals with more brown fat tend to be leaner and have smaller sugar stores—which is why this fat is known anecdotally as “good” fat. Researchers believe that brown fat burns energy and glucose for warmth. In this current study, authors found an apparent link between brown fat and colder climates.

The very small study, published in Diabetes (2014; doi: 10.2337/db140513), included five men aged 19–23. During the 4-month intervention, the men slept in rooms at different temperatures. The primary focus was to determine the effects of temperature on brown adipose tissue, energy balance and metabolism. The temperature was 24°C (75°F) the first month, followed by 19°C, 24°C and 27°C (66°F, 75°F and 81°F) in each subsequent month, respectively. Subjects went about their normal daily activities.

At study conclusion, the researchers identified a significant increase in brown adipose tissue during the coldest month. They also noted improvements in insulin sensitivity and energy burn rate after meals. By contrast, during the hottest month, brown fat decreased to below baseline levels.

The researchers concluded that these findings further confirmed links between colder environments and brown-fat development. They suggested this information could be useful in “harnessing brown adipose tissue for metabolic benefits.”

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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