Saying that “coffee can help you burn fat” sounds a lot more compelling than “caffeine can promote BAT function at thermoneutrality,” where BAT stands for “brown adipose tissue” and has nothing to do with the Batman. But are these two statements really equivalent?
To understand and properly interpret these two studies, it is important to know the difference between two types of fat cells in your body, brown and white, and what brown can do for you. As I have described previously for Forbes, a white fat cell is more like a thumb drive for fat, containing and storing a single large oily droplet. A brown fat cell does more than just store fat. In addition to containing multiple smaller oil droplets, a brown fat cell is brown because it has many “chestnut-colored” mini-furnaces called mitochondria. These tiny engines can burn up the small oil droplets to generate heat.