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As the weight-loss industry exceeds $60 billion, it seems that over 75 million Americans are looking to find that magic solution to obesity. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that the typical dieter makes four attempts per year to try and lose weight. Maybe researchers at the University of Florida have found the secret weapon – and it doesn’t cost a thing. It has to do with a hormone called “irisin” that was recently discovered by a professor of cell biology and a team at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Li-Jun Yang, a professor of hematopathology in the Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, along with a team of researchers, wanted to know exactly how this newly discovered hormone affected fat tissue and fat cells.

Irisin triggers some of the health-promoting properties of exercise. As written in an article in Medical News Today, the research suggests that as irisin levels rise through exercise, the hormone switches on genes that convert white fat into brown fat – the “good” fat. This conversion is beneficial, as brown fat burns off more excess calories than exercise alone.

According to the research, irisin increases when the heart and muscles are worked during exercise, which could prevent fat tissues from forming. Dr. Yang’s findings offer important insights in further understanding the beneficial use of irisin in obesity and exercise-related bone formation. More than two-thirds of U.S. adults are thought to be overweight or obese; knowing that the body creates this fat-fighting hormone should underscore the importance of regular exercise.

“Instead of waiting for a miracle drug, you can help yourself by changing your lifestyle,” explains Dr. Li-Jun Yang. “Exercise produces more irisin, which has many beneficial effects including fat reduction, stronger bones, and better cardiovascular health.”

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