In the movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” Emily Blunt famously utters the line, “I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight.” She might have been onto something.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have been working with a virus to suppress an amino acid called neuropeptide Y (NPY). NPY is believed to control appetite; if you can inhibit it (through a virus), you’ll suppress your hunger signals and lose weight. Turns out there’s a surprise benefit as well. You turn the usual white fat cells which simply store energy into calorie-burning brown fat cells.
In other words, if you get sick with a certain virus, you’ll not only suppress your appetite but you’ll also burn more calories resulting in weight loss. Researchers hope this will turn into some sort of drug therapy program they can administer to help fight obesity. They are NOT suggesting you inject yourself with a virus!
I’ve talked about brown adipose tissue before. Babies are borns with tons of it, which helps to keep them warm as their little bodies grow. But as we age, the brown cells all but disappear from our body.
Is there some takeaway we can use now from this research? Maybe …
Tim Ferriss of “Four-Hour Body” fame believes he’s found the answer to reactivating brown adipose tissue: ice. He recommends icing your chest and upper back where the remaining brown adipose tissue is likely to be in your body. He believes by cooling the fat cells they react by “turning on” and burning calories. He also recommends 20 minute ice baths if you’re into self-inflicted torture. It seems to work but there is definitely a price to pay for it.
Does this make me secretly hope I’ll get a bad stomach bug sometime soon? Um, no. Will I be icing my back or chest anytime soon? Well, I did it for 30 days back when I did the Four-Hour Body plan and I honestly don’t know if it did anything or not, although to my surprise, Dr. Oz vetted the science and backed it up.
There are lots of ways to lose weight. I’ve struggled a bit with my weight the last year or so … I’ve come to realize that finding a good steady balanced diet and regular exercise plan will eventually bring you to the weight you’re meant to be. I know it’s not rocket science, but I’m gonna stick with that. What do you think?