How to Use Cold Weather to Lose Weight

We’re mammals. We’re designed to wear our extra food as fat: as stored insulation and an energy reserve against the lean times that were always just around the corner in human history until a generation or two ago.
Turning down the thermostat may not only help you save on your heating bill, it also could be the secret to losing weight. Research published last year in the journal Cell Metabolism compared the calorie burn in subjects as they exercised in a 65 degree lab and then lay down on a bed chilled to 53 degrees until they started shivering.
In both tests, the subjects produced a hormone called irisin that converted sluggish white fat cells designed to store body fat into metabolically active brown fat cells designed to rev up calorie burn. Shivering muscles released another hormone, FGF21, that further boosted calorie burn. Around 50 grams of brown fat burned an additional 300 calories daily, the study found. That’s about the same as a 30-minute jog, according the Compendium of Physical Activity.

How to Use Cold Weather to Lose Weight

1. If you live in a cold climate, go outside to exercise

While the heated indoor gym and health club is certainly comfortable, you’ll burn far more calories by taking it outside. Be ready to be slightly cold as you start into a lower temperature bike ride, run, or brisk walk, but realize that you’ll significantly warm-up within just 10 minutes of activity. Be sure to protect body parts that are cold sensitive, such as your face, hands, and feet, with a scarf, gloves, and wool socks.

2. Include water exercise

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “Michael Phelps” diet, which was described in a Wall Street Journal article a little while back. The astonishing “diet” contains 12,000 calories per day. Breakfast includes 3 fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions, and mayonnaise, plus one 5-egg omelet, one bowl of grits, 3 slices of French Toast topped with powdered sugar, and three chocolate-chip pancakes. Lunch was one pound of pasta, two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo on white bread, and a 1,000-calorie energy drink. Dinner was another pound of pasta, an entire pizza, and more energy drinks. One reason Michael can eat so many calories and stay thin is that he’s constantly submerged in water, which makes his body have to burn calories to maintain temperature. While you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to indulge in eating unhealthy foods, you should certainly include water exercise as a way to increase your calorie-burning and cold-temperature fat loss.

3. Don’t be afraid to shiver

It’s OK to have goosebumps! After I take a cold shower in the morning, I typically keep my body burning extra calories by wandering around the house doing chores and making breakfast while wearing as few clothes as possible. The shivering and goosebumps may be uncomfortable at first, but your body adapts quickly, within as little as two weeks.

Any of the methods above will burn far more calories and jump-start the significant calorie burning benefits of thermogenesis better than simply drinking cold water. 


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