Exercise Promotes Fat-Fighting Hormone

I know a lot of you workout out to stay in shape. You run, lift weights, and do yoga to stay healthy and “in shape.” Some of you might have taken up one or all of these activities just a few weeks ago as a goal for 2012. While there are a myriad of motives behind working out, the two primary reasons you drag your butt to the gym are so that you feel better and look better.

Researchers from Harvard (remember, I’m a Yale guy, and it’s really tough for me to recommend anything that comes out of Harvard!) recently discovered a protein that is found in abundance in your muscles both during and after working out. Upon studying the protein a bit deeper they discovered that one of its characteristics is that it breaks apart into different pieces, with one of the pieces being a hormone that was previously unidentified.

Here’s the cool part: The hormone, irisin, doesn’t stay in the muscles like the rest of the hormone “pieces”:

It apparently enters the bloodstream and surfs to fat cells, where, by providing various biochemical signals or messages, it begins turning regular fat — especially deep, visceral fat clustered around organs — into brown fat.

If that last statement didn’t make your eyebrows rise in surprise, you are not an adipocyte biologist. For them, the finding that irisin might contribute to the browning of visceral body fat is “an extraordinary discovery,” says Sven Enerback, a professor of metabolic research at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, who has written extensively about the biology of fat and obesity.

Brown fat, as many of us have heard, is physiologically desirable. While white fat cells are essentially inert storehouses for fat, brown fat cells are metabolically active. They use oxygen and require energy. They burn calories.

How cool is that! So, while we’ve known that exercise is beneficial for us, we now have a study that shows how and why it is beneficial. Irisin is actually turning your white fat into brown fat. Once again, the body is amazing!

QUESTION: What are your 2012 health goals? (Hopefully this article inspired you to get out there and reach them!)