YOUR morning coffee may have the power to get you out of bed in the morning, but it might also help you to lose weight.
Drinking a cup of joe can stimulate "brown fat", which burns calories to generate body heat – scientists have found.
Professor Michael Symonds, from the University of Nottingham, said theirs is the first study to show how coffee can affect brown fat in humans.
He said the breakthrough could help tackle the obesity crisis.
"Brown fat works in a different way to other fat in your body and produces heat by burning sugar and fat, often in response to cold," he explained.
"Increasing its activity improves blood sugar control as well as improving blood lipid (fat) levels and the extra calories burnt help with weight loss.
"This is the first study in humans to show that something like a cup of coffee can have a direct effect on our brown fat functions."
Potential diabetes solution
He went on to stay that this was the first human study to show that something like a cup of coffee can have a direct effect on our brown fat functions.
"The potential implications of our results are pretty big, as obesity is a major health concern for society," he added.
"We also have a growing diabetes epidemic and brown fat could potentially be part of the solution in tackling them.”
First study on humans
Prof Symonds' team used stem cells in the lab to test their theory that caffeine would stimulate brown fat.
They using thermal imaging technology, they tested it on humans.
They traced the body's brown fat reserves to see how it produced heat.
The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed coffee really does make brown fat hotter – indicating it being worked off.
“From our previous work, we knew that brown fat is mainly located in the neck region, so we were able to image someone straight after they had a drink to see if the brown fat got hotter,” said Professor Symonds.
The results proved that coffee really did make the brown fat hotter.
But scientists now need to determine what it is exactly about coffee that is so fat-busting.
Temperature also affects brown fat
Dr Pam Peeke is a "fat doctor" and she wrote on Maria's Farm Country Kitchen that exercise can convert white-yellow fat to brown fat, as can getting enough sleep and exposing yourself to cold temperatures regularly.
"Getting enough high-quality sleep (is important) as proper melatonin production influences the production of brown fat; and exposing yourself to the cold regularly, such as exercising outdoors in the wintertime or in a cold room.
"Lowering the temperature in your living and working spaces is another tip."
Darren Sealey is a PT and founder of boutique gym Mindset, and he told The Sun that working out in the cold really can burn more calories.
"It's due to something called thermogenesis," he explained.
"This is a metabolic process during which your body burns calories to produce heat.
"Several factors induce thermogenesis in your body including exercise, diet and environmental temperature which all need to be working harmoniously to increase the rate of thermogenesis in the body."
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Is it the caffeine, or is it another component?
The team is now looking at caffeine supplements to test whether the effect is similar.
Prof Symonds said: "Once we have confirmed which component is responsible for this, it could potentially be used as part of a weight management regime or as part of glucose regulation programme to help prevent diabetes.”
Brown fat – also known as brown adipose tissue (BAT) – differs from "white fat" in the body, which occurs as a result of excess calories.
Experts say people with a lower body mass index (BMI) tend to have a higher amount of brown fat.
The more brown fat you have, the better insulin sensitivity you have (which means you're less likely to store belly fat) and the slimmer you tend to be.
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