Scientific approach to losing weight: Convert white fat cells to burn calories

Scientific approach to losing weight: Convert white fat cells to burn calories

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Burning Fat by Converting White Fat Cells?

Fat cells play an essential role in regulating the energy balance. There are different types of adipose tissue in our body, which can be categorized according to their color. Researchers have now discovered that white fat cells can be converted to burn calories.

In the current study by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) it was found that it seems possible to convert white fat cells to burn calories. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Cell Reports".

Fat cells play an important role in regulating the energy balance

Our fat cells, also known as adipocytes, play an essential role in regulating the energy balance in our body. "Adipocytes are not only energy stores for short times, but also release hormones into the blood that regulate the metabolism and the feeling of hunger and satiety through the brain and other organs," study author Professor Martin Klingenspor from the Technical University of Munich reports in a press release .

What are the tasks of different fat cells?

There are different types of adipose tissue in our body, which can be categorized according to their color and depending on the color, fat cells affect our health differently. White fat cells are primarily responsible for energy storage. In contrast, brown and beige fat cells can convert energy into heat.

Read on:

  • Lose weight: calorie consumption due to afterburn effects
  • Obesity: Brown fat cells are the key to losing weight

Do thermogenic fat cells reduce the risk of obesity?

The occurrence and activity of brown and beige fat cells are different for every person. There is some evidence that people with a high number of thermogenic fat cells have a lower risk of developing obesity and related metabolic disorders. The growth of beige fat cells in white adipose tissue can bring about special health benefits.

How do thermogenic fat cells develop?

The so-called browning ability of white fat is genetic. The researchers wanted to find out how thermogenic fat cells develop, i.e. how beige fat cells grow in white fat tissue. By tanning the white adipose tissue, an energy-storing organ could be partially converted into an energy-releasing organ, which improves metabolic health, the researchers report.

Tests carried out on mice

The development of the beige fat cells is controlled by a largely unknown genetic program. Different strains of mice with different genetic backgrounds largely differ in their ability to tan white adipose tissue.

Researchers systematically compared fat cells

By systematically comparing the fat cells of these different strains of mice, the researchers were able to find out which genes or regulators could explain the differentiation of the beige cells (the growth of the beige fat cells). By sequencing all transcripts of a cell using a special procedure, all gene activities across the entire genome can be registered in one snapshot.

How the study differed from other research

For the current study, the team carried out a comparative analysis of the transcriptomics of fat cells from genetically different mouse strains. The study goes beyond other research in this area by not only identifying important individual factors, but also relating them to each other in a molecular network.

This approach can provide researchers with a systematic overview of the network of cell-intrinsic regulatory mechanisms that are the underlying principle for the development of beige fat cells. No other research group has succeeded before.

More research is needed

The researchers have gained a unique insight into the genetic architecture that drives the molecular mechanisms of the development of beige fat cells. What has already been confirmed in cell cultures is now to be investigated as the next step inside a living organism through further research. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Yongguo Li, Petra C. Schwalie, Andrea Bast-Habersbrunner, Sabine Mocek, Martin Klingenspor et al .: Systems-Genetics-Based Inference of a Core Regulatory Network Underlying White Fat Browning, in Cell Reports, Volume 29, Issue 12, December 2019 , Cell Reports
  • How fat cells are created that burn calories, Technical University of Munich (published January 9, 2020), TUM

Video: Counting Calories Is A Ridiculous Way To Try And Lose Weight. Think. NBC News (June 2022).