The Latest Buzz on Brown Fat

August 20, 2009
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Rev Up Your Own Calorie-Burner.

9210628-563x853Carrying around a few ounces of brown adipose (fatty) tissue can burn up to one-fifth of your daily calories. While I’ve been writing about the benefits of this type of fat in utilizing stored fat for 20 years, three recent studies explain why it’s so important in the current obesity epidemic.

In one large study, women with higher levels of metabolically active brown fat, identified by PET scans, have lower body-mass indexes (or BMI). This research also reports that brown fat is more prevalent in younger people and in women.

Metabolically active fat is essential to health, since it protects our bodies and brains, reports the journal Neuroscience. No wonder people who live in cold climates or who have an overactive thyroid tend to have more brown fat.

These new studies also explain why infants, who are so utterly dependent on Mom for food and warmth, have more of the fat that so readily converts to energy. Not surprisingly, hibernating animals carry more brown adipose tissue to survive the winter.

Its darker color comes from the greater number of mitochondria, which function as tiny furnaces at the cellular level. Unlike white fat that ends up only expanding your waist or thighs, brown fat is located deep within the body, where it protects the organs, and provides padding for your collarbone, neck, and spine.

Activating brown adipose tissue—which may amount to as much as 30 to 40 percent of total body mass in some people—can make the battle of the bulge considerably easier. The good news is we don’t have to wait for Big Pharma to develop a drug to stimulate this kind of weight loss.

Back in the 1980s, researchers at the University of Montreal found that gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a safe, natural way to stimulate brown fat activity and burn calories. Even people who had been unable to lose weight with other methods lost on average a pound a week with brown-fat burning GLA.

Thanks to the pioneering research of the late David Horrobin, we now know that omega-6-rich GLA also fights inflammatory diseases like arthritis, helps relieve PMS, and is terrific for your skin.

While Dr. Horrobin’s research used evening primrose oil, we have even better forms of GLA available today. My fave is black currant seed oil, which also contains heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids.   To rev up brown fat, take two capsules of GLA-90, twice a day (preferably with meals). Fat Flushers swear by it, because GLA-90 keeps their skin moist even during weight loss. GLA also relieves eczema and psoriasis and is useful for anyone suffering from dry eye or diabetic neuropathy.


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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Barbara Rocks

    This is really great stuff. I used it for dry eyes (2 capsules, 1 in morning and 1 at night, internally) and have not suffered from dry eyes since!! Now, I regularly take one capsule a day. Also rubbed one capsule on granddaughter’s head (about 12 months old) 2 times a day for two days and voila! – no more “cradle cap.” Thanks so much for letting us know about these alternative therapies! (Especially when they work.)

  2. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Thank you, ladies. Besides giving up all gluten (wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut), I would definitely suggest that Erica’s 10-year-old take at least two of the GLA-90’s per day – one with each meal. I like that product best because it is dose regulated to what the research reveals. Barbara’s tip re opening a capsule for her granddaughter’s dry eyes is terrific. There are clinical studies to support the use of GLA eczema and cradle cap. On testing GLA comes up more deficient than the Omega-3’s. Most important for immunity 🙂

  3. Caroline Courtney

    Dear Ann Louise,

    I have been on and off your Fat Flush plan for probably the last 6 years. I absolutely love it and the nutritional sense you have. I do take psyllium husks and evening primrose oil daily (if I’m good). Can you tell me why your GLA with black current is better? Also, would you recommend your fiber over the psyllium that I am so happy with? Also, do you still do individual consulting?

  4. Ann Louise Gittleman

    The black currant seed oil is the best balanced of the GLA substances and will not create an overload of this “good” Omega 6. The results from Omega testing reveal that most individiuals are more GLA than Omega 3 deficient. I have recommended the UNI KEY GLA-90s for years with no negative side effects. Evening primrose oil can create break-through bleeding and borage seems to work better as a topical agent.

  5. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Dear Friends:
    I would love to answer each and every single one of your queries, as I have done to the best of my ability, in the past. The popularity of this Blog has grown to the extent that I can no longer provide that service but I am in the planning stages of an Internet – TV show where you can call in and get those questions answered by me in person! Please stay tuned for this exciting development. I first must complete a new manuscript and then will make some exciting announcements. In the interim, may I suggest that if you have questions about products, call UNI KEY at 1-800-888-4353. The folks there are helpful and will direct you accordingly. If you are concerned about a particular health condition, then by all means check out the Testing Kits on my site which will help you to determine underlying causes. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and interest!

  6. Lucy Della Rosa

    are there any side effects to the GLA-90



  1. Gamma linolenic acid: Most overlooked fat to reduce inflammation | | - […] Thanks to the pioneering research of the late David Horrobin, we now know that omega-6-rich GLA also fights inflammatory…

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