Weight management is a full-time job in which nearly everyone seems to be engaged—you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think they “could lose a few pounds.”
In fact, one third of all U.S. adults are obese, and 69% of all Americans are either overweight or obese. Sadly, many ingrained aspects of modern society make obesity almost inevitable: the notoriously health-sapping American diet, ever-present environmental toxins, and sedentary lifestyle practices, just to name a few.
In order to contend with all of these barriers to proper weight management, we need more than just an abdominal workout and occasional half-hearted dieting. Even those who maintain a disciplined diet and fitness regimen often find that shedding excess pounds is not an easy task.
Luckily, the popular superfood turmeric has begun to weigh in on the subject (pun intended), and studies show that this golden spice can be uniquely helpful to anyone trying to lose weight.
A new way to lose weight
Most attempts at weight loss fail because they’re based on an incomplete understanding of the factors involved.
Most of us have been trained to believe that burning as many calories as possible is the key to weight loss.
While burning fat (as measured in calories) is certainly important, the process is ultimately much more complicated.
For example, most people think there’s only one kind of fat—bad body fat. The truth is that our bodies have two kinds of fat: white fat (the stored fat that’s hard to shed and doesn’t do us much good), and brown fat (which helps keep the body warm through a process called thermogenesis).
Thermogenesis involves burning calories, which means that the presence of brown fat actually helps us shed the pesky white fat that’s not providing any particular benefit to the body. Here’s how it works: brown fat stimulates thermogenesis anytime you consume food—and the more brown fat you have, the more calories you’re able to burn through thermogenesis.
Brown fat works its magic through a process that researchers call the mitochondrial uncoupling of proteins, which is a fancy way of saying that brown fat optimizes your mitochondria’s ability to generate energy more efficiently with fat. It makes your body’s energy center more efficient, and burns more fat in the process.
While the ratio of white fat to brown fat begins with genetic predisposition, there’s plenty of measures you can take to increase your body’s level of brown fat, including proper diet, frequent exercise, and cold water exposure. Research has demonstrated that all of these practices partially transform adipose tissues ratios by adding brown adipose and beige adipose cells to existing white adipose tissue.
Researchers have also shown that turmeric can help accelerate the process of “browning” your body’s fat cells (thus allowing you to burn fat more quickly and effectively). A study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications found that supplementation with curcumin promotes browning of white adipose tissue, as well as improved cold tolerance and carbohydrate metabolism (both of which contribute to higher levels of brown adipose tissue).
The finding was confirmed by another 2016 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, which found that turmeric supplementation actually triggered the genetic expression of brown fat cells within white fat tissue.
This is a game changer—turmeric can actually help us engineer the fat composition of our bodies on a genetic level!