Stocking one's diet with a certain type of fat may increase metabolism and lead to weight loss, according to a study published in The Journal of Lipid Research. Scientists at Texas Tech isolated an enzyme called SCD1, which is present in the musculature of obese individuals.
SCD1 converts saturated fat into monounsaturated fat, which is easier to metabolize. The liver produces the enzyme depending on the fat content of the food consumed, but fatty adipose tissue produces it all the time as a self-regulating measure. The researchers genetically modified mice so that their muscles would continually produce the enzyme, then compared the modified mice with wild mice:
"We found in the genetically modified animals that they had a hypermetabolic rate. They were increasing their energy consumption, and they experienced greatly increased exercise capacity," said Ched Paton, assistant professor of nutritional biochemistry in the Department of Nutrition.
He added that the results could be applicable in humans: "You can't change the human genome, but that gives us insight if you could activate the same part of the DNA in human in skeletal muscles that burn off excess energy as heat instead of storing it. Perhaps it's a supplement people could take that will turn on the cells' metabolic machinery, burn off energy and increase mitochondria."