Exercise Alone Is Not Enough

  • The average Western diet is high in fat and protein and can in fact ‘poison' the brown fat and prevent it from being as responsive as it should be. A higher complex carbohydrate, moderate protein, low-fat diet seems to encourage brown fat activity.
  • Light vegetable oils are better than animal fats for activating brown fat: sunflower, soya, sesame or safflower oil — but intake should not represent more than 20-25 per cent of your daily kilojoules.
  • Natural sugars (fruit sugar, fructose) appear to be better than refined sugars.
  • An interesting ingredient that seems to activate brown fat and improve the heat- producing effect is caffeine. The amount required however is approximately two cups of mildly brewed coffee per day. Higher levels of caffeine have no additional therapeutic effect on brown-fat metabolism. It is important to note that caffeine is not prescribed as an aid to brown fat activity, but two cups day, especially if you enjoy it, cannot do any harm.
  • Certain amino acids may be helpful in increasing activity of brown fat. The main one is tyrosine, it is important to the activity of the adrenal, pituitary a thyroid glands and is also beneficial in improving memory and overcoming anxiety or depression (doses of up to one gram daily).
  • Dr David Horrobin of Montreal has found that the Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) in evening primrose has a stimulating effect on brown fat tissue. The GLA forms substances that can accelerate the activity of the mitochondria in brown fat and so quickly burn up excess kilojoules.

Muscles and kilojoules. The more muscular your body, the more kilojoules you burn while resting. The issue isn’t kilojoule expenditure during a workout but your overall metabolic rate. People with well-developed muscles have a higher metabolism even when they’re sleeping. That is why men, who naturally have more muscle mass and less body fat than women, can eat more without gaining weight and can shed kilograms more rapidly when they cut their intake. A large percent of our body weight is water: 55-65 per cent in females, 65-75 per cent in males. Women’s bodies contain a larger proportion of fat, which holds less water than lean tissue.

If I stop exercising will my muscles turn to fat? Neither muscle nor fat can turn into the other. Fat stores fuel whilst muscle uses it. The unique property of a fat cell is its ability to store and hold fat until it is needed as fuel for energy. Research shows that sprinting uses 80 per cent glycogen and 20 per cent fat whereas endurance activities, like fast walking, burn up 80 per cent fat and 20 per cent glycogen. So if you wish to burn kilojoules it is advisable to take up longer endurance activities regularly, rather than shorter vigorous bouts occasionally.

Useful Tips

  • Restrict your salt intake as it causes your body to retain fluids.
  • Don’t weigh yourself more than once a week when you start your exercise program — why not?

Because, when you’re exercising, you’re replacing those lighter-than-water fat cells with heavier-than-water muscle cells. Weight is only one of the indications of fitness and health. What really matters is how you feel, how much better you look and perform.

Don’t get hung up on the scales, because you may even gain a kilogram or two, but you will be centimetres smaller and firmer, and that’s what counts.

So it is important to remember that your aim is to decrease fat while maintaining muscle and therefore the real result is not necessarily the number of kilograms but your increased level of fitness.