Cold Is a Hot Way to Burn Calories
By Ellington Darden, Ph.D.
There is a simple way to burn extra calories that you’ve probably overlooked. It’s called shivering, or more precisely, almost shivering.
Think of your body as a house. When the temperature dips below the thermostat setting, the furnace compensates. Your electric meter records the energy expenditure, which you pay momentarily, in the case of your house, or in calorie burn for your body.
Body temperature is an important factor in metabolic rate. Drinking a gallon of cold water (40 degrees Fahrenheit) requires 123 calories of heat energy to warm it to core body temperature. German scientists confirmed this calorie-burning effect in a 2003 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Furthermore, I’ve applied cold-water consumption for more than 30 years among my trainees who wanted to
lose fat more effectively.
Important: You don’t drink one gallon all at one time. You spread it out, several ounces by several ounces, throughout the day.
To implement effectively the chill factor in your fat-burning efforts, be sure to use activity and not calorie-containing food to warm your body once it gets too cold. Warmth is one of the effects of eating. Sometimes we get cold and throw in a candy bar as another log on the fire. The chill factor will backfire if we’re not careful.
Hot tea, coffee, broth, or bouillon might be helpful, in place of candy.
Non-food warming measures include body weight squats, climbing stairs, sit-ups, push-ups, carry boxes, moving furniture, and walking.
There is a theory that repeated cycles of hot and cold produce a thermogenesis effect that accelerates metabolic rate. The utility company will tell you that keeping your house near the desired temperature generally uses less energy than letting temperatures drop while your away and having to heat it up again.
We can conserve energy – and calorie burn – if we maintain a comfortable body temperature. But remember, conserve energy is what we’re NOT trying to do. We want to USE more energy. Think of a calorie as a lump of coal and try not to conserve but to incinerate as many of them as possible by switching from heat to air conditioning.
One of the best ways to do this is to take a leisurely walk to warm the body, while sipping a quart of ice water as you walk. The walk-and-water strategy is most advantageous right after dinner. Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, not when you’re full.
There are mega-calories between “no longer hungry” and “full.” Push yourself away from the table and out of the house for a 30-minute walk. By the end of the walk you’ll realize there had been no need to eat anymore. You would have consumed calories only because you enjoyed the taste of the food not because your body needed more.
Now that you’re back in the house with a warm body, chill it even more with more cold-water sipping. Ease off the water intake two hours before bed, or your sleep will be disturbed.
Sleep slightly cool and you’ll have your body burning extra calories throughout the night. Do not use electric blankets or flannel sheets.
The idea of thermogenesis may sound a trifle hokey. But there are more and more scientific studies – and a slew of empirical evidence – to show that it works.