The fatter we are, the more our bodies produce a protein that blocks our ability to burn fat and lose weight, according to new research out of the University of Cambridge.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Communication, may explain why some obese individuals can’t seem to shed pounds even after they adopt healthier diets and increase their levels of exercise.
Most fat cells store excess energy and release it when needed, but some types — known as “brown fat” — generate heat to keep us warm and burn calories in the process.
But an international team of researchers found a protein found in the body, known as sLR11, acts to suppress this process.
The researchers were able to show that sLR11 binds to specific receptors on fat cells — like a key in a lock — and blocks their ability to burn calories.
"Our discovery may help explain why overweight individuals find it incredibly hard to lose weight,” said Dr. Andrew Whittle, who helped conduct the study. "Their stored fat is actively fighting against their efforts to burn it off at the molecular level."
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