Weight Optimisation vol. 2 – Fat Burning or Fat Cells, Quiver!

[ 7 minutes of reading ]

Welcome to the second part of a series of articles focused on weight optimisation. In the first article I shared a few basic steps and questions. If there are aimless dieting intentions lurking around in your mind, please, have a look there first.

Often it is us, women, who cultivate dieting intentions in our own heads. However, sometimes these are planted there by paid commercials. With the summer at our doorstep, the weight loss industry has certainly (and traditionally) come up with a new product, one that “finally works”, burning all excess fat for us. But how? And where does the burned fat go, anyway? I invite you to read this article which will help you understand the process of fat burning better. You will therefore be better equipped to see through the empty marketing slogans luring you with diets or dietetic supplements. The second part of the article is dedicated to a cold protocol describing how YOU yourself can boost fat burning.

Our body burns calories is a complex and very clever process influenced by many factors. And since you are reading an article on a biohacking blog, guess what? We can influence a number of these factors ourselves, thus increasing the amount of adipose tissue we burn in reaction to exercise or diet. Let’s have a look at how the process of fat burning happens in the body and how you – if that is your goal – can assist your body.

The basics are the basis

Before we talk about how you can support your body in the process of burning fat, go over the following points, please. Consider this a basis that you should master (within reason, of course) so that your body can be ready for the changes you have in store for it.

  • Sufficient and, above all, quality sleep (1)
  • Sufficient time spent in daylight and in nature
  • Sufficient intake of essential fatty acids
    • The source can be on your plate or in dietary supplements
    • How much? >1,000mg EPA/day (to boost your metabolism and fat burning)
  • Happy gut microbiome
  • Optimal thyroid function
    • Selenium, for example, plays an important role here (2) (at Systers, we ensure our daily intake of this essential trace element by munching on two Brazil nuts, which are loaded with selenium! ☺)
  • Optimal iodine levels
  • Self-love – it also plays a (rather important) role

How does the body burn fat?

As a sort of introduction, let’s clarify what we mean when we say body fat. Fat itself is glycerol with three fatty acid tails. Delving into the depths of biochemistry or medicine is not the purpose of this article, however (nor am I qualified for it). For the sake of simplicity then, instead of glycerol and fatty acids I will just use the word fat.

  1. Lipolysis
  2. Fat oxidation
  1. Lipolysis

In the body fat is stored in adipose tissue, and in order to be used and burned, certain processes must take place first. One of these is lipolysis which means that the fat must leave the fat cells and start moving (3). And how can it be liberated from its cell prison? It is a complicated process, so we will simplify it a lot here. In order to start moving, the fat has to free itself of the fatty acids which bind to glycerol in the fat cells. The freed fatty acids can then leave the fat cells and enter our bloodstream. Thus mobilised fat becomes more accessible for the body to burn.

  1. Fat oxidation (= fat burning)

The fact that the fatty acids left the fat cells does not mean we are rid of the fat, however. Now our body has to burn (oxidise) them effectively because if it doesn’t, the mobilised fat can “change its mind” and “settle down” again. In order for the fatty acids to be oxidised, they must be transported into cells, into their mitochondrias. These are capable of “burning” them and transforming them into energy. Hallelujah! 

Small revision:We now know that fat must first be mobilised (leave the fat cells) and then oxidised (burned and transformed into energy) in order to be used effectively.

And who takes part in controlling these important processes (of lipolysis and fat oxidation)? Ladies and gentlemen (if you too are reading), please welcome to the stage our nervous system. And may the spotlight shine on neurons. These innervate the adipose tissue with their axons. Neurons are capable of releasing certain substances into the fat which kickstart the process of burning fat, making it more efficient. One of these magical substances is a hormone we have already mentioned several times here on our blog. It is adrenaline (also known as epinephrine). It is because in the process of fat oxidation (“burning”), adrenaline greatly assists mitochondrias which “burn” and transform fatty acids into energy.

(Careful, this is only the adrenaline released by the neurons connected to fat. It does not concern the adrenaline present in the body from a different source.)

How can we influence fat burning?

Woohoo, here comes the part where I reveal that you can also help your mitochondrias a little with fat burning. How? By focusing on your nervous system and the ways to influence it. Let’s have a look at the tools we can use to stimulate the neurons linked to fat so that they would produce adrenaline.

Cold & shivering

One of the ways in which you can purposely influence your nervous system is cold. You can dive into the effects of cold therapy on our nervous system right now with Verča in this short article, or you can wait for her ebook to be published. Together, we will focus on cold only in relation to fat burning

Fat cells, quiver!

Have you ever shivered with cold? I suppose you have. People often find it unpleasant and associate chattering teeth with a very acute feeling of discomfort. However, such shivering and chattering launches quite an interesting series of processes. It is also one of the ways in which we can intentionally stimulate the neurons that innervate fat. This is because we give them a signal to produce adrenaline, thus increasing the process of fat burning.

How?

The shivering and related micro-movements of the body are key. These micro-movements stimulate our muscles to produce succinate.

Succinate → a molecule that increases the thermogenesis of brown fat.

Brown fat?

Brown fat helps us produce heat. One of the differences between brown and white fat is that brown fat contains quite a lot more mitochondrias (remember, I mentioned them as helpers with the final “burning” of fat). In addition to brown and white fat, we also have beige fat which, similarly to white fat stores energy, but at the same time similarly to brown fat can burn it and generate heat as well. There are fewer mitochondrias in beige fat, though, and so it is less effective in burning. 

Another interesting fact is that the succinate molecule is capable of transforming beige fat to brown fat. That is exactly what we want if our goal is better fat burning!

Thermogenesis?

Thermogenesis is the production of heat in the body through accelerated metabolic processes which can help burn fat faster. Keep thermogenesis in mind because it will help you understand the slogans of the weight loss industry better. This is because the products promising magical fat burning quite often work with thermogenesis. 

PS: If you are practising cold therapy in order to boost fat burning, do not escape shivering as it is precisely shivering which causes the aforementioned reactions.

Small revision:The micro-movements caused by shivering cause the release of succinate. Succinate increases thermogenesis in brown fat – it increases our internal temperature which leads to significantly more effective fat burning.

Protocol: Cold shivering for fat burning

If you turn your water tap all the way to the right in order to boost fat burning, the following protocol may serve as an inspiration (4).

  1. Immerse yourself in cold water up to your shoulders. Wait until you start shivering and enjoy it for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Step out of your cold bath. Resist the calling of a towel and continue shivering on dry land. Again for 1-2 minutes. Remember – don’t fight the shivering, it is fulfilling its purpose. 
  3. When the shivering starts to subside, it is time to immerse yourself in the cold water once again. Just like in step 1, wait until the start of shivering and then dance with it for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Step out and repeat step 2.

Listen to your body and do 2-5 sets, 1-3 times a week. One set is step 1+2 (1-2 minutes of shivering in water, 1-2 minutes shivering out of water). Take a break after 2-3 months to prevent cold adaptation, which could liberate you from cold shivering and its slimming effects.

You’re a woman, just like me, I’m cold, yet beautiful I wish to be.

Careful about this sort of thoughts:

Cool. I’ve just read another recipe for fat burning. It makes sense, so I will dive in completely. That is the only way I can get 100% results…isn’t it? Unusual signs of fatigue and discomfort in the body are probably just signs of weakness. And so I’ll dive into ice cold water. We’re shivering our way into our swimsuits…

Slow down and tune in, cyclical woman. Before implementing this protocol, please read the basic principles of cold therapy HERE, and consider the potential risks related to cold HERE.

There exist different reasons why we women busy ourselves with our body weight. Just as there are different ways we choose to achieve the desired weight. Regardless of your reasons and methods of weight loss (if you have any), respect your appetite and the signals of your body, please. Do not disregard what or how you feel. Ask yourself why changing your weight is important for you. Build strong foundations on such pillars as quality sleep or stress management. Sleep-deprived and stressed out, you are an easy prey for the weight loss industry. Optimise your weight mindfully and, if cold is a part of it, shiver and quiver in harmony with your cycle.

PS: Take this as an experiment and document your journey using a cold protocol. You can download one right now HERE!

Products mentioned in the article:

Bibliography:

  1. Nedeltcheva, A., Kilkus, J., Imperial, J., Schoeller, D. and Penev, P., 2010. Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine, 153(7), p.435.
  2. Triggiani, V., Tafaro, E., Giagulli, V., Sabba, C., Resta, F., Licchelli, B. and Guastamacchia, E., 2009. Role of Iodine, Selenium and Other Micronutrients in Thyroid Function and Disorders. Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders – Drug Targets, 9(3), pp.277-294.
  3. Bartness, T., Liu, Y., Shrestha, Y. and Ryu, V., 2014. Neural innervation of white adipose tissue and the control of lipolysis. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 35(4), pp.473-493.
  4. PLUNGE | A Revolutionary Cold Plunge Ice Bath. 2022. Cold Plunge Protocols. [online] Available at: <https://

7 minutes of reading

Welcome to the second part of a series of articles focused on weight optimisation. In the first article I shared a few basic steps and questions. If there are aimless dieting intentions lurking around in your mind, please, have a look there first.

Often it is us, women, who cultivate dieting intentions in our own heads. However, sometimes these are planted there by paid commercials. With the summer at our doorstep, the weight loss industry has certainly (and traditionally) come up with a new product, one that “finally works”, burning all excess fat for us. But how? And where does the burned fat go, anyway? I invite you to read this article which will help you understand the process of fat burning better. You will therefore be better equipped to see through the empty marketing slogans luring you with diets or dietetic supplements. The second part of the article is dedicated to a cold protocol describing how YOU yourself can boost fat burning.

Our body burns calories is a complex and very clever process influenced by many factors. And since you are reading an article on a biohacking blog, guess what? We can influence a number of these factors ourselves, thus increasing the amount of adipose tissue we burn in reaction to exercise or diet. Let’s have a look at how the process of fat burning happens in the body and how you – if that is your goal – can assist your body.

The basics are the basis

Before we talk about how you can support your body in the process of burning fat, go over the following points, please. Consider this a basis that you should master (within reason, of course) so that your body can be ready for the changes you have in store for it.

  • Sufficient and, above all, quality sleep (1)
  • Sufficient time spent in daylight and in nature
  • Sufficient intake of essential fatty acids
    • The source can be on your plate or in dietary supplements
    • How much? >1,000mg EPA/day (to boost your metabolism and fat burning)
  • Happy gut microbiome
  • Optimal thyroid function
    • Selenium, for example, plays an important role here (2) (at Systers, we ensure our daily intake of this essential trace element by munching on two Brazil nuts, which are loaded with selenium! ☺)
  • Optimal iodine levels
  • Self-love – it also plays a (rather important) role

How does the body burn fat?

As a sort of introduction, let’s clarify what we mean when we say body fat. Fat itself is glycerol with three fatty acid tails. Delving into the depths of biochemistry or medicine is not the purpose of this article, however (nor am I qualified for it). For the sake of simplicity then, instead of glycerol and fatty acids I will just use the word fat.

  1. Lipolysis
  2. Fat oxidation
  1. Lipolysis

In the body fat is stored in adipose tissue, and in order to be used and burned, certain processes must take place first. One of these is lipolysis which means that the fat must leave the fat cells and start moving (3). And how can it be liberated from its cell prison? It is a complicated process, so we will simplify it a lot here. In order to start moving, the fat has to free itself of the fatty acids which bind to glycerol in the fat cells. The freed fatty acids can then leave the fat cells and enter our bloodstream. Thus mobilised fat becomes more accessible for the body to burn.

  1. Fat oxidation (= fat burning)

The fact that the fatty acids left the fat cells does not mean we are rid of the fat, however. Now our body has to burn (oxidise) them effectively because if it doesn’t, the mobilised fat can “change its mind” and “settle down” again. In order for the fatty acids to be oxidised, they must be transported into cells, into their mitochondrias. These are capable of “burning” them and transforming them into energy. Hallelujah! 

Small revision:We now know that fat must first be mobilised (leave the fat cells) and then oxidised (burned and transformed into energy) in order to be used effectively.

And who takes part in controlling these important processes (of lipolysis and fat oxidation)? Ladies and gentlemen (if you too are reading), please welcome to the stage our nervous system. And may the spotlight shine on neurons. These innervate the adipose tissue with their axons. Neurons are capable of releasing certain substances into the fat which kickstart the process of burning fat, making it more efficient. One of these magical substances is a hormone we have already mentioned several times here on our blog. It is adrenaline (also known as epinephrine). It is because in the process of fat oxidation (“burning”), adrenaline greatly assists mitochondrias which “burn” and transform fatty acids into energy.

(Careful, this is only the adrenaline released by the neurons connected to fat. It does not concern the adrenaline present in the body from a different source.)

How can we influence fat burning?

Woohoo, here comes the part where I reveal that you can also help your mitochondrias a little with fat burning. How? By focusing on your nervous system and the ways to influence it. Let’s have a look at the tools we can use to stimulate the neurons linked to fat so that they would produce adrenaline.

Cold & shivering

One of the ways in which you can purposely influence your nervous system is cold. You can dive into the effects of cold therapy on our nervous system right now with Verča in this short article, or you can wait for her ebook to be published. Together, we will focus on cold only in relation to fat burning

Fat cells, quiver!

Have you ever shivered with cold? I suppose you have. People often find it unpleasant and associate chattering teeth with a very acute feeling of discomfort. However, such shivering and chattering launches quite an interesting series of processes. It is also one of the ways in which we can intentionally stimulate the neurons that innervate fat. This is because we give them a signal to produce adrenaline, thus increasing the process of fat burning.

How?

The shivering and related micro-movements of the body are key. These micro-movements stimulate our muscles to produce succinate.

Succinate → a molecule that increases the thermogenesis of brown fat.

Brown fat?

Brown fat helps us produce heat. One of the differences between brown and white fat is that brown fat contains quite a lot more mitochondrias (remember, I mentioned them as helpers with the final “burning” of fat). In addition to brown and white fat, we also have beige fat which, similarly to white fat stores energy, but at the same time similarly to brown fat can burn it and generate heat as well. There are fewer mitochondrias in beige fat, though, and so it is less effective in burning. 

Another interesting fact is that the succinate molecule is capable of transforming beige fat to brown fat. That is exactly what we want if our goal is better fat burning!

Thermogenesis?

Thermogenesis is the production of heat in the body through accelerated metabolic processes which can help burn fat faster. Keep thermogenesis in mind because it will help you understand the slogans of the weight loss industry better. This is because the products promising magical fat burning quite often work with thermogenesis. 

PS: If you are practising cold therapy in order to boost fat burning, do not escape shivering as it is precisely shivering which causes the aforementioned reactions.

Small revision:The micro-movements caused by shivering cause the release of succinate. Succinate increases thermogenesis in brown fat – it increases our internal temperature which leads to significantly more effective fat burning.

Protocol: Cold shivering for fat burning

If you turn your water tap all the way to the right in order to boost fat burning, the following protocol may serve as an inspiration (4).

  1. Immerse yourself in cold water up to your shoulders. Wait until you start shivering and enjoy it for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Step out of your cold bath. Resist the calling of a towel and continue shivering on dry land. Again for 1-2 minutes. Remember – don’t fight the shivering, it is fulfilling its purpose. 
  3. When the shivering starts to subside, it is time to immerse yourself in the cold water once again. Just like in step 1, wait until the start of shivering and then dance with it for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Step out and repeat step 2.

Listen to your body and do 2-5 sets, 1-3 times a week. One set is step 1+2 (1-2 minutes of shivering in water, 1-2 minutes shivering out of water). Take a break after 2-3 months to prevent cold adaptation, which could liberate you from cold shivering and its slimming effects.

You’re a woman, just like me, I’m cold, yet beautiful I wish to be.

Careful about this sort of thoughts:

Cool. I’ve just read another recipe for fat burning. It makes sense, so I will dive in completely. That is the only way I can get 100% results…isn’t it? Unusual signs of fatigue and discomfort in the body are probably just signs of weakness. And so I’ll dive into ice cold water. We’re shivering our way into our swimsuits…

Slow down and tune in, cyclical woman. Before implementing this protocol, please read the basic principles of cold therapy HERE, and consider the potential risks related to cold HERE.

There exist different reasons why we women busy ourselves with our body weight. Just as there are different ways we choose to achieve the desired weight. Regardless of your reasons and methods of weight loss (if you have any), respect your appetite and the signals of your body, please. Do not disregard what or how you feel. Ask yourself why changing your weight is important for you. Build strong foundations on such pillars as quality sleep or stress management. Sleep-deprived and stressed out, you are an easy prey for the weight loss industry. Optimise your weight mindfully and, if cold is a part of it, shiver and quiver in harmony with your cycle.

PS: Take this as an experiment and document your journey using a cold protocol. You can download one right now HERE!

Products mentioned in the article:

Bibliography:

  1. Nedeltcheva, A., Kilkus, J., Imperial, J., Schoeller, D. and Penev, P., 2010. Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine, 153(7), p.435.
  2. Triggiani, V., Tafaro, E., Giagulli, V., Sabba, C., Resta, F., Licchelli, B. and Guastamacchia, E., 2009. Role of Iodine, Selenium and Other Micronutrients in Thyroid Function and Disorders. Endocrine, Metabolic &amp; Immune Disorders – Drug Targets, 9(3), pp.277-294.
  3. Bartness, T., Liu, Y., Shrestha, Y. and Ryu, V., 2014. Neural innervation of white adipose tissue and the control of lipolysis. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 35(4), pp.473-493.
  4. PLUNGE | A Revolutionary Cold Plunge Ice Bath. 2022. Cold Plunge Protocols. [online] Available at: <https://thecoldplunge.com/en-gb/pages/protocols> [Accessed 1 June 2022].
  5. Huberman, A., 2022. How to Lose Fat with Science-Based Tools | Huberman Lab Podcast #21. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqPGXG5TlZw&t=2102s> [Accessed 1 June 2022].
  1. thecoldplunge.com/en-gb/pages/protocols> [Accessed 1 June 2022].
  2. Huberman, A., 2022. How to Lose Fat with Science-Based Tools | Huberman Lab Podcast #21. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqPGXG5TlZw&t=2102s> [Accessed 1 June 2022].
Tereza Celbová

Tereza Celbova

Tereza enjoys discovering the complexity of the human body and mind. She is pleased to find trends and patt

She is constantly asking what is happening? Why? And how?
Through modeling, Tereza had the opportunity to experience new countries and cultures, igniting a passion for exploration. For education purposes, she has now settled in charming (and rainy) Wales.

Insatiable curiosity about the complexity of the human body (and soul), as well as personal problems with the menstrual cycle, drove her into the arms of biohacking. She immediately fell in love with it, as it allows her to find trends and patterns that she can use to better understand and subsequently optimise her own biology and emotions. Biohacking simply helps to answer what is happening? Why? And how it could be done better?

One of her go-to hacks is sun exposure. How could it not be? With its ability to adjust your circadian rhythm and to stimulate serotonin production!

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