According to a series of scientific studies springing up across the United States, keeping cold may cause you to burn additional calories and allow you to lose weight. A recent article in Wired, “Tapping the Power of Cold to Lose Weight“, describes the medical race that has begun to take advantage of this theory.
The concept is simple: all day long, whether you are awake or asleep, your body is burning calories to keep itself warm. So, in theory, the colder your environment, the harder your body has to work to maintain a constant body temperature —burning more calories and fat to accomplish this.
I say “in theory” but a number of studies now suggest that there is a close correlation between body temperature and on-going calorie burning. The most brilliant thing about the concept is how simple it is. How the body regulates heat is fairly well understood, so it is surprising that it took this long for the idea of using cold temperatures to burn additional calories to come to light.
Pharmaceutical companies are now working diligently to develop drugs that will invoke the physiological processes involved in keeping the body warm. It is believed that BAT (brown adipose tissue), a special type of fat that is involved in converting fat to energy, can be influenced to increase fat burning. Drugs are now being developed to trigger BAT processes and increase the amount of BAT an individual has.
Ray Cronise, a former NASA material scientist, is the man behind the movement. He formulated his “cold weight loss” theory after investigating Michael Phelps. Phelps is known to consume 12,000 calories a day and yet did not gain weight in doing so. Many people believed it was because of his exercise routine but despite Phelps’ rigorous training, it did not explain how he was able to burn off 12,000 calories a day (more than 6 times more than the average man). Ray believes it is because he trains in the water which lowers his body temperature, contributing to an above-average calorie burn.
Ray has since put his theory to the test by trying to keep his environment cold as much as possible, day and night. He was able to shed 27 pounds in 6 weeks by incorporating cold treatment into his exercise and calorie-restriction routine.
Ray and other scientists throughout the U.S. are now actively studying the affects of cold on the body as it relates to weight loss, as well as how BAT plays into the equation. For the fat nations of the world, where the U.S. is truly #1, this cold therapy may be exactly what the doctor ordered.