Researchers from Kyoto University have discovered that fish oil can switch your fat storage cells into fat burning cells.

Specifically, they found that consuming fish oil:

  1. Activates receptors in your digestive tract which…
  2. Engages your sympathetic nervous system…
  3. Causing fat storage cells to metabolize your fat

Background Info

Fact #1. You have three types of fat cells 

  • White fat – which stores calories and contributes to obesity
  • Brown fat – initially thought to exist only in babies, brown fat arises from infant muscles and is designed to help keep their little baby-bodies warm. “More recent imaging data suggested that adults, too, maintain some brown fat’.
  • Beige fat – similar looking to brown fat, beige fat doesn’t come from muscle, but is created by the “browning” of white fat in adult humans. It is found in “scattered pea-sized deposits beneath the skin near the collarbone and along the spine in adults”

Fact #2. Previous research has shown that fish oil has a number of powerful health benefits…including fat accumulation.

These two facts led the scientists at Kyoto U to investigate how fish oil and brown fat cells interacted.

The Study

Researchers fed a group of mice “fatty food” while feeding other mice “fatty food with fish oil additives.

The researchers found that mice who ate the fish oil supplement gained 5-10% less weight and 15-25% less fat compared to the non-fish oil eating mice.

 Figure 1: Fish oil intake reduced body weight gain and fat accumulation


Fish oil intake decreased body weight (A) and abdominal WAT (B) gain in mice. Mice were fed a control diet (C), control diet containing low-dose DHA-enriched fish oil (LD), control diet containing high-dose DHA-enriched fish oil (HD), control diet containing low-dose EPA-enriched fish oil (LE), and control diet containing high-dose EPA-enriched fish oil (HE) for 10 weeks. 

The scientists also found that the fish oil supplements caused an activation of the sympathetic nervous system, forcing white fat cells to transform into beige fat cells.

Figure 2: Fish oil intake induced UCP1 expression in interscapular BAT (brown fat) and inguinal WAT (white fat)


Fish oil intake induced UCP1 protein expression in interscapular BAT (A) and inguinal WAT (B). Fish oil intake also induced UCP1 mRNA expression in interscapular BAT (C) and inguinal WAT (D). Fish oil intake induced beige adipocyte-specific gene expression in interscapular BAT (E) and inguinal WAT (F). 


The researchers concluded that it was this transformation of white fat storage cells into beige fat burning cells that protected the lab mice from their “fatty food” diet.

What does this mean to you?

If you’re concerned about gaining or losing body fat…start eating more fatty fish and/or supplementing with fatty fish oils.

Fish Oil Supplements

Which Fish Should You Eat?

The following infographic shows which fatty fish are healthiest (re their good oil) and which fat are the healthiest (re low levels of mercury)



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