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Here’s One Reason Why You May Be Unable to Lose Weight

Tim Boyer's picture
Fat controlling protein blocks thermogenesis

Do you ever wonder why your next door neighbor or best friend managed to lose weight on a diet that did not do anything for you but add to your weight loss frustration? A recent study published by University of Cambridge scientists found one reason that may explain why you may be unable to lose weight.


According to a news release from the University of Cambridge, researchers are one step closer to finding a safe way to trick the body into upping its metabolism and burn more calories for weight loss. This weight loss trick involves using the body’s natural fat burning process―called thermogenesis―that helps the body maintain its normal body temp like a furnace in the home during winter.

In fact, some researchers and marketers of weight loss products propose that by wearing a cooling jacket or ice pack vest close to the body can actually trick the body into increasing its metabolism in order to burn more fat to keep the body warm.

Unfortunately, however, the human body has developed biomechanisms to conserve energy that is stored in fat cells. This is to ensure that when the human body is placed under starvation conditions, that the body will retain its energy stores as long as possible while helping keep the body alive.

One of those mechanisms recently discovered is a protein called “sLR11” that researchers found acts to suppress fat cells from undergoing thermogenesis. They liken sLR11 as a signal molecule that functions as a key that fits into a lock that keeps fat cells from needlessly expending their energy stores.

What the researchers found was that mice which lacked the gene that codes for the sLR11protein actually were more thermogenic and had increased energy expenditure―particularly following a high fat diet feeding―in comparison to mice that possessed the gene and tended to burn less fat under the same diet.

Furthermore, in humans, the researchers also found that the fatter a person is, the more sLR11 protein is present circulating in their blood. And, following bariatric surgery, those levels of sLR11 drop directly proportional to the amount of fat removed. The researchers believe that sLR11 is produced by fat cells and “…helps fat cells resist burning too much fat during ‘spikes’ in other metabolic signals following large meals or short term drops in temperature.”

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“Our discovery may help explain why overweight individuals find it incredibly hard to lose weight. Their stored fat is actively fighting against their efforts to burn it off at the molecular level," states the study’s first author Dr Andrew Whittle.

While their findings may appear at first glance to do little for those wanting to lose weight, co-author Professor Toni Vidal-Puig, who led the team, points out that their findings may be applicable in the future for both those who need to lose weight and those who need to avoid losing weight.

“We have found an important mechanism that could be targeted not just to help increase people’s ability to burn fat, but also help people with conditions where saving energy is important such as anorexia nervosa.”

Researchers propose that these findings are bringing them closer to finding a safe way to control weight loss and gain with potential medications or agents that can either block the protein “key” from fitting into its lock or mimic its effects with more fat cells becoming locked and prevented from releasing its stored energy.

For more about why you may not be losing weight, here is an informative article about weight loss saboteurs you need to avoid.


University of Cambridge news release “Stored fat fights against the body’s attempts to lose weight

Soluble LR11/SorLA represses thermogenesis in adipose tissue and correlates with BMI in humansNature Communications; 20 November 2015, Andrew J. Whittle et al.