A new study has suggested a link between coffee and the activation of fat fighters in your body.
Michael Symonds, a professor at the University of Nottingham and co-director of the study, said researchers found that coffee can stimulate what's known as brown fat. "Brown fat is a unique organ that is used for producing heat. It's present in quite small amounts in the body," he told USA TODAY.
Brown fat cells are the body's internal fat fighters, the University of Nottingham said in a news release. When the body produces heat, it uses energy, thus burning calories. This is the first study that shows a cup of coffee can impact how brown fat functions, Symonds said in the release.
Brown fat, or brown adipose tissue, impacts how quickly one's body burns calories. This type of tissue was thought, in the past, to exist only in hibernating mammals and babies, the university said.
However, it has been found in human adults, too. People with a lower body mass index have more brown fat than people with a higher body mass index, according to the university. The study was published in Scientific Reports.
Adults have between 50 and 100 grams of brown fat in their bodies, Symonds told USA TODAY, and when it is activated, it has the unique ability to produce 300 times more heat than any other organ in the body.
When maximally activated, it can potentially produce up to 10% of the body's daily heat.
Researchers began the study using stem cells from mice and humans to test brown fat activity. Then they moved on to testing human volunteers by looking at brown fat activity in the neck within one hour after drinking a coffee.
The coffee was specifically a serving of Nescafe Original with about 65 mg of caffeine, Symonds said.
The consumption of coffee increased the activity of brown fat in humans, researchers found. And the control, caffeine dissolved in water, had no impact on brown fat activity.
Symonds told USA TODAY that coffee helps fight diabetes in addition to obesity because not only does coffee consumption increase the capability of brown fat, it improves glucose levels.
Researcher's next step will be to see if caffeine itself can activate brown fat, Symonds said.
"From this study we saw just an increase in activity (of brown fat)," said Symonds.
"But potentially, with longer term study looking at the effect of taking caffeine pills once or twice of day for a two week period increase in brown fat itself and an increase in activity."
Follow Morgan Hines on Twitter: @MorganEmHines.
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