I came across an interesting article that suggested that a certain type of exercise could make you as thin as our other ape colleagues.
Im sure you have all mused on the fact that we are fatter than our chimp ape brothers.
Its the number one topic of conversation in our gym!
Unfairly, primates have less than 9% body fat, a healthy range for humans is anywhere from 14% to 31%. Even for those super fit skinny people with amazing muscles.
Despite having nearly identical DNA sequences, chimps and early humans underwent critical shifts in how DNA is packaged inside their fat cells, As a result, the researchers say, this decreased the human body’s ability to turn “bad” calorie-storing fat into the “good” calorie-burning kind. basically we needed to store more fat to fee our growing brains.
Normally most of the DNA within a cell is condensed into coils and loops and tightly wound around proteins, such that only certain DNA regions are loosely packed enough to be accessible to the cellular machinery that turns genes on and off.
The researchers identified roughly 780 DNA regions that were accessible in chimps and macaques, but had become more bunched up in humans. Examining these regions in detail, the team also noticed a recurring snippet of DNA that helps convert fat from one cell type to another.
But, we need to back track.
There are 2 types of fat. White fat that stores calories, and beige and brown fat which can burn calories rather than store them to generate heat and keep us warm.
“We’ve lost some of the ability to shunt fat cells toward beige or brown fat, and we’re stuck down the white fat pathway,” Swain-Lenz said. It’s still possible to activate the body’s limited brown fat by doing things like exposing people to cold temperatures, she explained, “but we need to work for it.” This accounts for the cold shower crazes and the insane idea of “thermal loading” which I had to test.
In the six to eight million years since humans and chimps went their separate ways, human brains have roughly tripled in size. Chimpanzee brains haven’t budged.
The human brain uses more energy, pound for pound, than any other tissue. Steering fat cells toward calorie-storing white fat rather than calorie-burning brown fat, the thinking goes, would have given our ancestors a survival advantage.
This raises the remote possibility that in the future we could find a way of manipulating and switching genes on and off and magically have 9% body fat.
In the future.
In fact in an interview the lead researcher Swain-Lenz said, a question she gets a lot is: “Are you going to make me skinny?”
“I wish,” she said.
“Comparative Analyses of Chromatin Landscape in White Adipose Tissue Suggest Humans May Have Less Beigeing Potential Than Other Primates,” Devjanee Swain-Lenz, Alejandro Berrio, Alexias Safi, Gregory E. Crawford, Gregory A. Wray. Genome Biology and Evolution, June 24, 2019. DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evz134.