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How Your Body "Releases" Fat Cells
By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES
Fat cells are amazing and they can be your best friend!
That's right - you should embrace your fat cells.
As a review, you have learned what fat cells are (endocrine organ), and what a sick fat cell is (dysfunctional fat cell), but we also found out how the body splits and burns fat cells (lipolysis) obliterating them forever.
But there is more to it! Let's see how an adipocyte releases a fat cell to be processed in the first place.
If you want to increase metabolism, your metabolism (a KEY to losing weight and keeping it off), two things, and just two things, MUST happen.
First, the stimulation of the cell releases hormones. These hormones cause fat cells to be released, enabling them to be split and sent to the bloodstream.
And second, once released into the blood, fatty acids are shuttled to muscles and other cells to be used for energy.
We also know epinephrine and norepinephrine, once produced, bind to the surface of cells. But what do they bind to? Answer: β-receptor cells.
β-Adrenergic Receptor Cells
The stimulation of lipolysis in the adipose tissue requires communication from a lot of different parties.
We mentioned in previous articles, lipolysis, or fat breakdown, occurs with the help of different physiological processes. First, the body produces epinephrine and norepinephrine, causing a sympathetic response by the body. This causes blood from non-essential organs to be re-routed to the skeletal muscle. This stimulates the release of sugar and fatty acids, which enter the blood stream and head toward the skeletal muscle. You also see increased blood pressure and heart rate from the activation of the fight or flight system. This response requires massive amounts of energy, which are released from skeletal muscle, liver, and fat cells.
Epinephrine binds to the surface of the cell, stimulating β3 receptor cells. This produces adenylate cyclase, which then increases intracellular levels of cAMP which increases PKA levels in the cell. The binding of epinephrine and norepinephrine create a cascade of events starting lipolysis.
β-cells are not only found in adipose tissue, but are also found in the urinary bladder, gallbladder, and brown adipose tissue. β cells stimulate vasodilation allowing blood and nutrients to reach areas of the body quickly. The main responsibility of β cells is to stimulate lipolysis and thermogenesis in both types of human fat cells.
Brown Adipose Tissue and Thermogenesis
As babies, we have high levels of brown adipose tissue. This tissue's main responsibility is to maintain temperature of muscles through shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis. This type of tissue is unique from adipose tissue due to its makeup and some other special things it can do.
Brown adipose tissue also has β-adrenergic cells in its makeup. They also possess higher levels of mitochondria, which help to trap and burn fatty acids for energy. I mentioned before how brown fat has some unique features! This tissue has great capacity for utilizing fatty acids, and it lacks storage capacity for fatty acids! Less fat storage=more fat used=more fat lost!
Brown fat also maintains thermogenesis, keeping the body warm. Normal cell processes use an energy source called ATP for most cellular functions. However, brown fat does not require ATP for its fat burning. When the fatty acid move into the mitochondria, there is increased heat and oxidation, which increases thermogenesis and burns more calories!
Citrus Aurantium and Stimulation of β-cells
An extract of citrus fruit, citrus aurantium, has been used widely as a way to aid in weight loss. In the 1990s, ephedra was a potent stimulate for fat burning. Due to adverse reactions, ephedra was pulled from the shelves, only to be re-released. During the ephedra-free time, people were looking for an alternative to speed up metabolism and burn more fat. People then turned to citrus aurantium, commonly referred to as bitter orange.
Citrus aurantium is a natural beta adrenergic agonist, which means it stimulates β-cells to do its job. This powerful nutrient has many adrenergic amines which can increase metabolism, stimulate lipolysis, and allow more amino acid to be used by skeletal muscles.
Bitter orange and blood pressure have been one area of concern. One side effect of ephedra was an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. A component in bitter orange, synephrine, is closely matched to ephedra in chemical structure. People feared a similar increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Therefore, supplements were running into the same problems which faced ephedra.
However, to put your mind at ease, research done by Seifert et al. determined bitter orange does not raise blood pressure or heart rate, but instead, did increase resting metabolic rate and fat oxidation (breakdown) in certain populations.
Recent research completed in April, found similar conclusions as Seifert! Research done by Stohs et al. determined bitter orange containing p-synephrine (Advantra Z), appears to be safe with no adverse reactions linked to its use. They also mentioned millions of people consume citrus-related products which contain synephrine (Advantra Z) with no reported adverse effects to date.
So how does it work?
When β-adrenergic agonist is introduced, it stimulates cells to begin the process of lipolysis. Research by Fisher et al. determined prolonged exposure to β-agonists increased fat oxidation and adipocyte activation, but it also increased energy expenditure through brown adipose tissue. The theory behind the brown adipose tissue was the increased activation of a specialized molecule found in the mitochondria. Increased activation of uncoupling protein 1, uncouples oxidative phosphorylation, leading to an increase in energy expenditure. They also determined acute exposure to β-agonists results in increase lipolysis and elevated metabolic rate.
To sum it up...
β-adrenergic cells are activated by hormones, which can be secreted by adipose tissue and adrenal glands, starting the process of lipolysis. β-cells are found in adipose tissue and brown adipose tissue in both adults and infants. Both tissues, when stimulated, begin the process of breaking down fatty acids for increased metabolic rate and lipolysis (adipose tissue) and increase energy expenditure, which increases thermogenesis (brown fat) in the body.
Citrus aurantium (Advantra Z) can increase metabolic rate, thermogenesis in brown fat, and adds appetite suppression, leading to feeling full and satisfied after a meal. Citrus aurantium is safe and effective for losing weight and increases metabolism with no reported increases in blood pressure and heart rate.
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