This Is What Fat Burning Looks Like

In this series I often mention that mitochondrial ROS production creates physiological insulin resistance which keeps your cells in “fat burning mode”. In this paper, the authors actually took a picture of fat burning mode!! They asked human subjects to eat a low fat vegan diet for two days and then gave them a banana milkshake that contained 24 grams of stearic acid – a long chain saturated fat. At the beginning of the experiment, after they had been eating the low fat vegan diet, their mitochondria were isolated and fragmented. Within three hours of consuming the stearic acid shake, their mitochondria literally fused together into long chains. This is fat burning mode!

The mitochondria on the left are fragmented after two days on a low fat vegan diet. The mitochondria on the right have fused into long chains to go into fat burning mode. The photo in the middle is an intermediate state.

In addition to showing the fused mitochondria, the authors showed that a blood marker of fat oxidation, acylcarnitine, dropped, indicating that the cells were indeed in fat burning mode. Cool stuff!