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The Performance Life

New Book: The Brown Fat Revolution

James Lyons would seem like an unlikely person to write a book on nutrition and exercise. After all, as a plastic surgeon, he’s often approached by people looking for quick-fix solutions after neglecting both areas.

But after spending nearly three decades as a surgeon, Lyons has developed an interesting perspective on fat. When working on patients who have adhered to a healthy lifestyle, he notices their fat is leaner and browner in color. Those who have followed poor diets and failed to exercise have yellow, “greasy” fat.

Lyons’ new book, The Brown Fat Revolution: Trigger Your Body’s Good Fat to Lose Weight and be Healthier, presents a program to transform unhealthy yellow fat into healthier brown fat.

The book also offers some interesting perspectives on tissue quality, aging, and appearance applicable to anyone—not just those looking to go under the knife. Lyons advises patients to follow his program before resorting to plastic surgery. They might find they no longer need the surgery. He recently spoke to CorePerformance.com.


What inspired you to write this book?

Dr. James Lyons

My perspective comes from being a plastic surgeon for more than 28 years and having the opportunity to go inside bodies. What defines my results is not just my expertise but the quality of tissue I’m working with. What I’ve found is that people who work out and eat well have distinctively different qualities of fat. They tend to have a different color and consistency of fat. Good fat is tan or brown. Bad fat is yellow, greasy, and loose, what I call “McDonald’s fat.” When you think about the aging process, it’s my belief that it’s quality of tissue and volume distribution that defines age in the body, especially with women.

CP: So the bad fat is literally yellow?

JL: Yes. People who are unhealthy have this yellow fat that’s not even cohesive. It’s like melted butter and it looks that color. It’s a bright, yellow, loose substance.

CP: What makes brown fat so valuable?

JL: With brown fat, the blood supply is good and it supports the skin and, most importantly, the muscles below. If you think of a woman with good brown fat, there’s a nice layer of fat over the muscles that accentuates what she does in the gym.

CP: Most women want as little fat as possible. Isn’t that the goal?

JL: Women work out for their bodies and not for their faces. If you do these drastic diets and cardio-shredding exercises, your body might be skinny, but your face looks like hell, ten to 15 years older than it is, and you’re running to me to put all of these fillers in your face. There is a way to make everything look more plump, natural, and beautiful and that comes from following a healthy eating program. The idea is to keep volume in all the tissues, including the fat. If you follow seesaw diets, you stretch the fascia, which holds the fat in position. Eventually the fascia becomes too loose to keep you looking youthful and you get that jowly look in your face. People understand how the skin is a reflection of how you’ve lived but that’s just the surface. If you change the quality of skin and the quality of fascia, you’ll look dramatically different.

CP: Is your work easier if you’re dealing with brown fat as opposed to yellow fat?

JL: Absolutely. Look, I love to do plastic surgery, but I only want to do it to people who will make me look good by giving me the best tissues possible to work with it. Think about trying to make a firm structure out of yellow fat; it’s not going to happen. I liken it to an ice sculptor who creates this beautiful piece and sets it out in 90-degree weather. That’s yellow fat. My work is not going to look good in six months.

CP: It almost sounds like if people follow your program, they’ll have less reason to do business with you.

JL: Not necessarily; I’m as busy as ever. But the thing I tell every patient is that they have to enlist themselves in the process. I’m not a magician. Studies have shown that people who undergo plastic surgery to fix some sort of psychological unhappiness feel the same way two years later. But if someone takes the time to enlist their body in the process, eating well and exercising and feeling that cerebral muscle connection that is so amazing, the results are unbelievable—physically and psychologically. It’s not just about going to the gym. It can be ballroom dancing, tennis, swimming—anything where you’ve shown that you’ve enlisted in the process. That makes my job much easier and your results so much better, whether we do business or not.

About The Author

Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.

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Tags: Women, Health, Weight Loss, Fat