Research published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that irisin, a hormone released during moderate-intensity exercise, helps convert calorie-storing white fat cells into energy-burning brown ones. Researchers compared fat cells collected from female study participants both before and after exposure to irisin and found that five times as many of the irisin-exposed cells contained a protein known for its ability to torch fat. What’s more, scientists found that irisin may keep fatty tissue from forming in the first place. With the tested fat tissue samples, they found that irisin had the ability to decrease the number of mature fat cells by 20 to 60% when compared to a control group.
Researchers believe these results further illustrate the importance of exercise for managing obesity. Simple lifestyle changes such as adding a brisk daily walk or biking instead of driving to do errands could be the key to staying trim while improving heart health, and a more intense exercise regimen (regular spin classes, for example) could be your ticket to taking fat metabolism to a new level.