Welcome back, winter is coming and I guess this is a good time to talk about Cold Thermogenesis! One of my favorite topics surrounding stuff you can do to improve your health in non so typical pathways. Let’s go!
What is Cold Thermogenesis anyway?
It is a getting chilled game
More elaborately: it consists in getting exposed to colder temperatures on purpose so you get certain benefits. Pretty basic.
What are those so called benefits you talk about?
- Boosts fat loss
- Improves blood flow
- Increases willpower
- Extends lifespan
I am sure there are some extra benefits, but according to my experience and research those are the main ones we get from cold exposure. Now just let’s dig a bit further into those benefits:
#1 Cold Thermogenesis boosts fat loss
One of the strongest benefits of Cold Thermogenesis is the so alleged fat loss. Why on Earth would Cold Thermogenesis yield fat/weight loss?
- Direct increase in energy expenditure: your body works hard to keep the human reference temperature: around 98ºF = 36.5ºC
- Endocrine optimization: higher testosterone levels and more balanced leptin/ghrelin and dopamine/prolactin.
- Improved adiponectin function.
- Activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT): the longer time you practice Cold Thermogenesis, the more BAT activates inside your body.
Beware! Cold Thermogenesis is not a magical bulletproof method for fat loss. Diet is and will always be the key. For some individuals, cold exposure can result in increased hunger, and if they succumb to that hunger they will get fatter. In fact Cold Thermogenesis is just a small, nice tool you can incorporate in your daily routine (more about this below).
#2 Cold Thermogenesis improves blood flow
This is a nice one. Cold exposure improves circulation in your whole body and this is just good news. In fact you don’t need a proof for this. What happens whenever you feel cold? You ‘need’ to walk or move around, otherwise you freeze and get shivers, right?
And why improved blood flow is good stuff?
- Healthier heart and in-shape blood vessels will protect you against CVD, heart attacks and brain strokes.
- Mantaining the proper function of all your cells and organs so they do their job properly.
- Stronger skin defence against external bacteria.
- Enhanced muscle function, strength and endurance.
#3 Cold Thermogenesis increases willpower
Willpower is strongly related to dopamine levels, and because cold exposure increases dopamine, it makes you more willing to do your things and keep moving. Many people report willpower benefits from Cold Thermogenesis and how their days are more productive. Also the fact of growing up the courage to confront uncomfortable situations may lead to these results. The same happens for me, I think I am more of a man since I fight the cold. Want to try? :)
#4 Cold Thermogenesis extends lifespan
For many animals, cold exposure increases lifespan. That is an interesting study since:
- Rats exposed to colder temperatures appear to live longer.
- Rats exposed to colder temperatures eat more calories. And yet they are leaner and live longer than their non-exposed friends.
As usual there are no human studies as far as I know. But curious fact: every blue zone (longevity zones) is located near the sea. Maybe the fact of getting baths in the sea increases lifespan? Who knows.
Cold Thermogenesis as an exercise substitute?
Now this is kind of a tempting idea. As we stated, Cold Thermogenesis shares several benefits with exercise, it does so because cold exposure triggers some reactions the same way exercise does: your heart needs to work harder, your blood flows all over your body, energy is expended…. Now you could just think of Cold Thermogenesis as a low/moderate intensity exercise substitute. You get similar benefits from both cold exposure and exercise, but it is by no means the same! Your muscles are not working to the same degree, yeah they may get mildly tensed but you are not developing any relevant strength nor hipertrophy. And you are not performing any anatomic move, stretch, nothing. No adaptation for any sport.
How can I do Cold Thermogenesis in a realistic, doable way?
So if you research a lot about this, you will find that cold baths are seriously stronger than cold showers. And cold showers are way stronger than “air cold exposure” i.e. going outside with light clothes. However, you can’t go straight for cold baths without practizing a bit with these easier methods. So first things first, start with air exposure and slightly cold showers, then build up from there.
Then notice that cold baths take a longer time (up to 1 hour when you are advanced) and you could just use this time doing actual exercise or other activities. While cold showers don’t consume extra time in your daily routine (assuming you take a daily shower, haha). Going out with fewer clothes is equally easy and won’t take extra time from your day. You decide, just escalate slowly and fit it all in your lifestyle as naturally as you can, otherwise you will quit in a few days. Perseveance is a must!
You can do Cold Thermogenesis no matter what diet or exercise plan you run. But if you ask me, combine this with a LCHF + Intermittent Fasting approach:
- A high fat diet is more natural during cold months. Fat is your friend, more concretely when you are starting with these cold showers or baths. Drop your carbohydrate intake whenever you raise your fat consumption.
- Intermittent Fasting enhances brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation. Love it when everything fits in!
Come back soon!
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