Stimulating my brown fat

Getting cold or eating spicy food can activate your brown fat.  From the article in the New Scientist:

What makes brown fat so interesting is its ability to burn food directly to produce heat, whereas energy extracted from food is usually stored first, then released during activity such as exercise. It can produce 300 times more heat per gram than any other tissue in the body. This is because brown fat cells have a disproportionately high number of mitochondria – the small energy producing structures in cells – which also gives the stuff its eponymous colour. These mitochondria are slightly different from those in other cells, too, because they contain a protein called thermogenin, or UCP1, which enables brown fat to turn energy to heat directly.

It might be possible to activate your brown fat by getting cold and eating spicy food. Today I went for a 10 mile cycle on Newbury common. It was so cold my skin went red. The article warns that if you get cold, you might compensate by eating too much.

Breakfast: All Bran.

Lunch: 1.5 mackerel on 2 slices of buttered toast.

Snacks: Small amount of hummus crisps, extra fine golden wax beans, almonds, cashews, half a Diam bar. About half a packet of pumpkin seeds.

Dinner: Some tortilla.

Comment 1: I need to find somewhere new to cycle that is reasonably safe.

Comment 2: Need to pop chewing gum in as soon as I start cooking – I shouldn’t have had so many pumpkin seeds. They are 50% fat.

Happy events:

  1. Learnt about Zen Coding from Web Essentials. It’s a short cut from Web Essentials for writing HTML.  For example: (.messages>.message>(.title>lorem3)*5
  2. Cooking can be relaxing. I enjoyed making and eating the tortilla.
  3. Had fun in Tesco looking for stuff Greek Doctor mentioned, e.g. pumpkin seeds and almonds. (I think I might have misunderstood about the pumpkin seeds. They are an example of Omega-3, but not necessarily a good thing.)

Getting lost in the woods

Exercise: Cycled to Bowden wood, then went for walk and got lost. Was about to retrace my steps, but managed to find the way out. Quality bluebells.

Breakfast: Porridge with crushed barley.

Snacks: Small amount of biltong. Slice of cheese.

Lunch: Chicken leg plus salad.

Drinks: Tea. Coffees.

Fruit: Pear.

Comment 1: Need chewing gum visible on the table for when I get stressed whilst studying.

Comment 2: Need to write down what I drink tonight.

Happy stuff:

  1. I love Shawn Wildermuth’s courses on PluralSight – full of enthusiasm for NInject despite B’s scepticism.
  2. Bowden Wood is beautiful. Need to go to Snelsmore and The Chase again soon.
  3. I loved the story in The New Scientist about a sense of fairness amongst Capuchin monkeys. If one gets only a cucumber but the other gets a tasty red grape for doing the same task, it flings the cucumber at the researcher.

Dinner at Rodizio Brasileiro.

Alcohol: Half a bottle of Blue Nun. Half a bottle or red (Portillo). Glass of brandy.

Fats and Omegas (Friday, 10st 8 1/4)

I finally started on The Greek Doctor’s Diet. I’ve had my mind blown by my sheer ignorance about fat.

A fatty acid is a long hydrocarbon chain capped by a carboxyl group (COOH). To make a fat molecule, you bind together three fatty acid chains with glycerol.


Saturated fat is solid at room temperature whereas saturated is normally liquid.


In saturated fats like the palmitic acid, the carbon atoms are equally filled with hydrogen, i.e. saturated with hydrogen. The oleic acid is not saturated – some of the hydrogens are missing.
The saturated fats are supposed to be bad, because they cause arteriosclerosis. It looks like this hasn’t actually been proven though, but it’s easy to believe as most saturated fats do look likely to clog arteries.

Chocolate, cheese and processed meats are saturated fats.

Unsaturated fats are salmon, almonds and avocados (all very tasty – have added them to my shopping list).

I’ve never wondered why there is Omega-3 and Omega-6. They are both fatty acids that have an unsaturated bond in their chain. In Omega-3 the bond is in the third position.
omega-3-n-6 green

Omega-6, says Greek Doctor, is less good, but you do need the raw nuts and seeds it’s extracted from.

Omega-3 is brilliant. It’s in oily fish, walnuts and pumpkin seeds (also added to my list).

Breakfast: Porridge with crushed malted barley.

Lunch: Chicken leg and salad.

Drinks: Teas. Coffees.

Snack: Biltong from the South African shop in Thatcham. Slice of cheese.

Dinner: Chicken leg with salad.

Fruit: Pear.

Happy things:

  1. B chuffed with the Biltong.
  2. Enjoyed learning about fats.
  3. Really enjoyed the chicken and salad.


Evening snacking: some more Biltong. A few crisps and peanuts. Had Elderflower cordial with sparkling despite it being bad for me to compensate myself as B and D were having a drink.

Find a way!

I’m also going to cut my drinking down to 3 days per week again. If I fail, I’m going to give £150 to Mind.

Breakfast: Porridge with salt, seeds and honey. FFS – I need to stop smothering my breakfast in honey. I did it this morning as I was slightly hungover. If I drink more slowly, I’ll feel better in the mornings and not need the honey. I could experiment with porridge and blueberries.

Drinks: Coffees. Tea. Elderflower with sparkling. I need to enjoy the sparkling without adding cordial or squash to it. Meaningless sugary calories. On non-drinking nights I could occasionally get a bottle of Perrier.

Lunch: Sandwich with cheese, cucumber and mayonnaise. Cheese is fattening with no nutritional value. I need to plan ahead, so I don’t resort to cheese again.

Dinner: 2 chicken leg quarters with salad. Not sure if I needed two! Pleased about the salad though.

Fruit: One pear. Should have another one later.

Exercise: Very short walk at lunchtime. Work lunchtimes should be a quick eat and then WALKING.

CW sent me this link over two years ago. Finally got round to listening to Shaun Achor’s Ted talk. He says that you shouldn’t wait to achieve something to be happy. If you’re happy, you’re more likely to achieve stuff. One of his top tips is to journal 3 happy things each day.

  1. My appraisal went well.
  2. I really like my colleagues. Had a lovely moment at the end of the day when I apologised for being a bit drunk last night, but I was told I was fine except for demanding some of S’s McDonald’s after I finished my pasty.
  3. I love reading and have the best book ever to look forward to tonight.

Sunday (5 points)

I’ve simplified my challenges yet again. I’m going to stick to them for the rest of the month. My point today is for not eating and reading/watching a screen.

I was 10st 9 3/4 on Friday. Hoping to be 10st 8 or less this Friday.

Fruit: Pear.

Breakfast: All bran. Tiny amount of honey.

Drinks: Coffees. Cappuccino. Tea. Elderflower cordial.

Lunch: 2 home-made hotdogs with mustard, tomato sauce, cheese and onions.

Snacks: Hazelnut yoghurt. Another yoghurt.

Comment 1: I’m going to read the Greek Doctors book for 15 minutes per week. I lack basic nutritional knowledge.

Comment 2: I need to write down during the day what I eat ready for blogging in the evening just in case I forget.

Easier Challenge (4 points)

I’ve made my challenges for this month easier.

Breakfast: Porridge with salt, seeds and honey.

Lunch: Tongue mayo brown sandwich.

Snack: Mint.

Fruit: Pear.

Drinks: Coffee. Teas.

Dinner: Steak with peppercorn sauce, kale and new potatoes. Seconds.

Comment 1: Need to get back to not eating in front of a screen or a book. (If I eat just listening to the radio, I always leave a little. I never leave any if I’ve been reading.)

Comment 2: I need to practise knots and view the belaying video as hopefully going climbing again next Tuesday.