Wake up your brown fat with a hot cup of joe

As I’ve mentioned here many times before, I’m not a coffee drinker. The caffeine simply leaves me too wired.

But I realize this makes me an outlier. And of all the crutches out there, a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning is easily the most common.

But here’s the thing: Coffee isn’t really bad for you. In fact, it packs enough benefits per cup to qualify as a bona fide health food—whether you want to ward off diabetes or simply live a longer life.

And new research also reveals that coffee could be an effective obesity fighter. But the reason why might surprise you…

Firing up the fat-burning fat

Let’s jump straight to the good part: According to a recent study, coffee stimulates brown fat—the metabolically active, calorie-burning, diabesity-fighting form of fat.

Brown fat is packed with mitochondria. Mitochondria are the parts of the cell that turn nutrients into energy, and they’re rich in iron (which makes the fat look brown).

This makes brown fat uniquely able to generate energy through a process called thermogenesis—which burns calories and creates heat—instead of storing energy like normal white fat.

In fact, even though brown fat makes up a tiny fraction of the fat in our bodies, it has the potential to annihilate white fat, essentially causing it to melt away. But that only happens when brown fat is “activated.”

The problem is, there are only so many ways to trigger brown fat activation in the body. And the most common is through some kind of biological stressor—be it injury, disease, or simply cold temperatures.

Needless to say, these aren’t the most practical strategies to fire up your body’s brown fat stores. Which makes this latest discovery so exciting…

Small cup, big benefit

The most notable part of this research is that it’s one of the first human studies to look for substances with a direct effect on brown fat. So if you’ll pardon the pun, they carry a lot more weight.

Scientists started by observing the effects of caffeine on stem cells, to look for brown fat stimulation. After that, they moved on to actual human subjects—nine of them, specifically.

They gave each subject a single serving of Nescafe, containing approximately 65 mg of caffeine—in the morning, at least two hours after eating, and without any exercise, caffeine, drug, or alcohol consumption in the nine hours before.

Then they measured brown fat activation using thermal imaging of subjects’ necks. (This is a common location of brown fat reserves—and naturally, activated stores are going to put out heat.)

Sure enough, results showed significant brown fat stimulation within an hour of drinking the coffee. (A very small serving, I might add, compared to your typical coffee drinker’s morning cup.)

One thing that the researchers aren’t quite sure of is whether it’s the caffeine component of coffee, or something else, that’s behind its effects on brown fat. Which means there’s no saying whether decaf would deliver the same benefit just yet.

Nevertheless, it’s still news that any coffee lover can raise their mug to. And if, like me, you don’t partake?

Well, luckily, there are a few other ways you can fire up your brown fat stores. In fact, I devoted an entire article to the subject in the August 2016 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“Transform your body and beat metabolic syndrome with brown fat”).

Subscribers have access to my entire archive—so as always, if you haven’t yet, consider signing up today.


“Could coffee be the secret to fighting obesity?.” Science Daily, 06/24/2019. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190624111622.htm)s