Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
31 May

A Primal Primer: Brown Adipose Tissue

Last week’s Dear Mark discussing cold thermogenesis got some of you asking about brown adipose tissue. It’s a topic that deserves a full-fledged Primal Primer, especially since the idea of “good” body fat, a term many use to describe brown adipose tissue (BAT), is a foreign one. I mean, we’re talking about body fat here. Who wants it? Everyone I know is trying to get rid of their adipose tissue, not obtain more. It’s what brings many to this blog and what initiates this grand journey toward health and wellness. Even the people who say they “don’t care” about how they look would rather not have excess body fat, if only because it’s a marker of poor health or hormonal disregulation. We might acknowledge that we technically “need” some body fat to survive, but most of us will pass on any more than is absolutely necessary, thank you very much.

So whenever brown adipose tissue is invoked as the “good” kind of body fat, a body fat that cannibalizes other body fat, flabbers audibly gast. Is such a thing even possible?

Yes. Brown adipose tissue is very different than white adipose tissue. While white body fat can be regarded as an endocrine organ involved in the release of hormones, it doesn’t “do” all that much. It leads a pretty sedentary existence. Brown adipose tissue is metabolically active, however, consuming fat and glucose, increasing metabolism, and generating warmth for the organism as needed. Animals without the ability to shiver or tie scarves around their necks – like rodents and newborns – have lots of brown fat, because that’s how they stay warm – through “non-shivering thermogenesis.” Brown fat is dense with mitochondria, the power plants of cells which normally use fat and glucose to produce ATP. BAT mitochondria use fat and glucose to produce heat, rather than ATP. Thermogenin, or UCP1, is the uncoupling protein within the mitochondria that enables BAT to oxidize fat without producing much ATP.

Until quite recently, researchers assumed brown fat was mostly absent in adult humans. And if adults did have any, it was probably just a vestige from childhood with little actual functionality. In actuality, recent studies show that men and women can and do have significant amounts of brown fat, usually located near the neck, the chest, and the upper back, with women tending to have more than men. Rather than being inert, this adult brown adipose tissue is metabolically active with some interesting potential effects:

That all sounds pretty good, but how do we act on this knowledge? Is there anything we can do to start utilizing brown adipose tissue in our pursuit of health, leanness, and general Primal awesomeness? Maybe.

If you want to activate BAT, you have to get cold. Seeing as how brown adipose tissue’s primary function is to maintain body temperature, cold exposure activates existing brown fat – it presents the necessary environmental stressor to tell brown fat to start burning triglycerides for energy. A recent study (PDF) found that while exposing both lean and overweight men to “mild cold exposure” (61 degrees F, or 16 degrees C) activated brown adipose tissue in 23 out of 24 of them, thermoneutral temperatures resulted in zero BAT activity. Your brown adipose tissue doesn’t have much to do on a nice, warm day – nor, for that matter, on a miserably cold day so long as you’ve got the heater on inside.

Get cold, but not so cold that you can’t stand it without breaking down into a shivering mess. Brown fat keeps us warm up until the point of shivering, after which the physical act of trembling warms us and brown fat is deactivated (or down-regulated; it’s not clear whether it gets flipped off or gradually fades away). If you want to activate your BAT and only your BAT, don’t get so cold that you begin to shiver. Eventually, of course, your “shiver set point” will improve, you’ll get used to the cooler temperatures, and you’ll be able to tap into your BAT at lower and lower temperatures. Shivering also burns calories in its own way, but, well, shivering is kind of unpleasant and awful and it requires far lower temperatures. Go for goosebumps.

Although cold exposure is definitely the best way to activate brown fat, there’s also evidence that a person’s brown fat stores mediate the amount of energy they store after eating. Whenever you eat something, heat is generated, both from the physical and enzymatic breakdown of the food and from “diet-induced thermogenesis.” In patients with lower UCP1 expression (remember, UCP1 is the protein that enables combustion in the brown adipose tissue), the thermogenic response to a meal is lessened; and patients with confirmed brown adipose tissue generate more heat in response to a meal than patients without brown adipose tissue. Since that heat comes from energy that is not being stored, a greater thermogenic response to food means less (bad) body fat accumulation.

All this revolves around the activation of existing brown adipose tissue. While that’s important, what about creating new BAT? There are two candidates – chronic cold exposure and exercise.

In rodents, temperature to which the animal is chronically exposed determines the total amount of BAT on the body. Rats in a heated lab will have less brown fat than rats living outdoors. Humans, even those living in cold climates, are rarely exposed to the cold weather. They sleep in heated homes, drive in heated cars, shop in heated department stores, and bundle up with multiple layers for those fleeting moments spent outdoors. It’s even been proposed that the advent of central heating is related to obesity. I suspect that the total amount of human BAT also depends on chronic exposure to cold, especially since one study (PDF) showed that outdoor workers have more BAT than indoor workers. Acute exposure activates, chronic exposure creates.

Irisin, the “exercise hormone,” appears to convert white adipose tissue to brown adipose tissue. As irisin increases in a rodent’s blood, energy expenditure increases without an increase in movement or food intake, suggesting an increase in thermogenesis mediated by the converted WAT. Humans also make irisin in response to exercise, so this could work for us, too.

I don’t think we can ignore brown adipose tissue as a partial player in the metabolic mess we’re in. It’s not the one key to solving the obesity epidemic, but neither is anything else. It’s a piece of the puzzle, a contribution to the whole mess, and it’s completely plausible to think that people are fatter than they have to be because they’re too dang warm all the time. Sure, people have always avoided the cold, whether through central heating or animal pelt, but the way we avoid it today is way different – and far more effective. At any rate, it can’t hurt to give it a shot.

Hopefully, one of these Saturdays I’ll be able to include a recipe for stir-fried veggies in the rendered brown fat of pasture-raised hamster (sorry, hamster lovers; I had to pick a rodent). Until then, let’s hash things out in the comments. Tell me about your experiences with cold exposure, brown fat, and weight loss, or weight gain, or your plans to experiment. Take care!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Cold showers, dive in the ocean, plunge in the snow, I do it all. 😀

    Exposing to low temperatures has tremendous benefits, you can feel it right away, you feel refreshed, awake, and alive.

    Of course it accelerates the metabolism, because it forces the body to keep up the temperature at its standard.

    Paul Alexander wrote on May 31st, 2012
  2. Very interesting. For about 6 months, I have felt warm after eating anything. Perhaps it’s because of increased brown fat. I haven’t thought of any other good reason for the effect.

    Harry Mossman wrote on May 31st, 2012
  3. Maybe that is why my hot flashes have been more pronounced lately. Since I upped the protein and fat is starting to melt off, they are happening more frequently than they have in a couple of years.

    Honeybuns wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • I was about to comment that my hot flashes seem to originate on the back of my neck and lower back at about the waist, and was wondering if the process involved communication with BAT somehow. Very interesting!

      Kelly B wrote on May 31st, 2012
  4. I’ve long suspected colder temperatures were better for fat loss. It’s just more difficult to not increase the calories as a result and compensate for it.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on May 31st, 2012
  5. This is non-sense! I will enjoy my hot California home and just eat fewer calories! Bogus!

    PaleoBrrrrr-d wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • Thank you. Correlation does not imply causation. Isn’t that what we primals are always saying?

      Primal E wrote on June 1st, 2012
  6. When I lived in Siberia the Russians would go outside in 30 below in their swimsuits and dump cold water on their heads. They would also do this before hitting the dacha for a steam.
    They claimed that deliberatly exposing oneself to extreme cold was good for the immune system and overall health.

    fred flintstone wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • That’s craziness; although, those Russians are pretty robust people, so maybe they’re on to something!

      TB wrote on May 31st, 2012
      • I’m one of those crazy Russians (though I’ve emigrated), and when I lived in a cold climate, I’d put on my swimsuit and dash outdoors into the snow for just a few seconds – not enough that you’d get frostbite or really start shivering, but just long enough to feel the cold. It feels so good – a very invigorating feeling.

        Now that y’all have reminded me of it, I think I may take myself to the beach and jump into the Pacific with the same goal in mind. The water is pretty cold here in San Francisco.

        LM wrote on May 31st, 2012
        • Im am from Finland and here it is pretty common to jump into an icy lake or bath in snow after sauna during the winter. Sauna is something invented here to bring us warmth during the long cold winter. It is basically a small room with a big furnance that heats the room up to over 190 f. In addition we throw löyly, i.e water on the furnace to generate hot vapor which intensifies the feel of heat as the hot vapor meets the body. Anyway, the idea is to get as warm as possible in the sauna, till you almost can’t stand it, whereafter you dive in the cold lake or the snow. This can go on for hours. Get heated up and chilled down. It is super invigorating and you feel totally refreshed as you where reborn. If you visit you should try it!

          Andreas wrote on July 26th, 2013
  7. Here is a very good article on BAT. Also discussed is BRITE, )the term used for brown fat that was previously white fat).

    Excellent primer…we have been discussing this for months on the forum

    Otzi wrote on May 31st, 2012
  8. In order to see effects from cold exposure, what sort of time do we need to be exposed for? If I want to take a cold shower to promote BAT activation/growth, does it need to be multiple minutes, or will a 30-60 second blast at the end work just fine?

    IceAged wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • From what I read 10 minutes in the morning and 10 at night is fine, plus the morning cold shower works better than 10 cups of coffee to wake you up!

      Nathan wrote on May 31st, 2012
      • Nathan, I’ve been doing the ten-minute cold showers, and I realize now that it was because of this comment.

        What had you been reading?

        Ion Freeman wrote on October 2nd, 2012
  9. I buy the entire concept as outlined above by I wonder about the universality of the conclusion. The obvious question would be “what about people at the equator?” wherein the temperature never get’s that cold (maybe at night in the desert?). Do these massive demographics have different brown fat systems/ thresholds? Surely they don’t get fat from being warm all the time?

    Jordano wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • “it’s not the one key to solving the obesity epidemic, but neither is anything else. It’s a piece of the puzzle”

      im sure there are other regional/cultural factors to their percentage of obesity, whatever that may be.

      papatojo wrote on June 1st, 2012
    • You’re right. It depends on your genetics and what climate you are currently living in. The Eskimos had tons of brown fat! But for the people living around the equator, I’m sure exposing themselves to cold would be counter-productive, but who knows. I would say simply spending more time outside and exposing yourself to non-heated water would do the trick.

      Brian Kozmo wrote on May 27th, 2013
  10. I am from Ohio, and no matter what I ate I always maintained a good weight of about 175lbs. After moving to California (because I’m stationed there, soon to return to Ohio), I’ve ballooned to 215lbs and cannot for the life of me lose it (doing everything right). I wholeheartedly agree that cold works, because I spent a lot of time outside in the snow.

    Nathan wrote on May 31st, 2012
  11. This is exciting! I may start taking cold showers! Is there some amount of time we need to spend in cool temperatures to get benefits? Or will every little exposure help some?

    Cristina wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • Hmmm, I’ve been taking cold showers for another reason. How nice to hear that they are good for more than one purpose.

      Anthony wrote on May 31st, 2012
  12. A cold shower does invigorate but I may not need cold water: I’ve lost almost 50 pounds to date and I get colder easier. Just last night my wife turned the air conditioner down to 70 and I was forced to wear long pants and a light sweater. Man, that was weird because I NEVER get cold.

    Phocion Timon wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • awww, I’m sure you could have gotten a date without losing the 50 lbs.
      “i’ve lost 50lbs to date”
      oh wait….you meant….haha. :)

      seriously though, I think I just read something on his site in about your body omega 6 levels being high if you can’t tolerate cold very well. Maybe look into it. If I find it again, I will post it.

      fifi wrote on May 20th, 2014
  13. This is awesome! I competitively swam in high school, and was just very active all year round. I was able to consume huge amounts of servings, and not gain any weight (aside from muscle). My swim practices consisted of 4 hours a day during the winter in 55ish degree water. To this day, I am still a phenomenom to anyone I know (with how much I eat, and still don’t gain any fat), I also feel more comfortable in the cold, than the heat. Now I know the science behind my situation. Thank you Mark, love ya dude!

    Superman078603 wrote on May 31st, 2012
  14. I am cold ALL. THE. TIME.

    My furnace only turns on when I am asleep: my husband knows when I am falling asleep on his shoulder because he says I start to radiate heat. Most of the time, I have cold hands, feet, and am generally chilled unless it’s above 75 degrees. My blood pressure is on the low end of average, but my circulation is without issue.

    Could being cold have anything to do with brown fat? Is it an affect of brown fat?

    Nicole wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • Please, please get a thyroid panel done. Low thyroid production is so common. Cold intolerance is a huge warning sign. If your levels are off, be careful not to eat raw cruciferous veggies (cabbage family things like broccoli, caulflower, etc), or other goitrogens (like raw strawberries) until you get your levels up. I highly recommend you go to Mary Shomon’s site and read about symptoms and steps to getting diagnosed. So many docs are not up to date on proper testing and test interpretation, you really want to educate yourself. Low thyroid can lead to heart disease, dementia, fatigue, insomnia, muscle aches…on and on…it’s not pretty.

      Kit Kellison wrote on May 31st, 2012
      • Kit and Marion, I love this place, people are so caring!

        It’s funny, because my thyroid numbers are actually irregular and have been since last summer.

        However, my energy is normal (I am naturally hyper), my hair is not falling out, I am not gaining weight (lost 8 lbs when I first went Primal and have stayed at that weight since), and I have felt felt nothing but healthy for years, even more so since going Primal in March.

        On paper, my MD says I have thyroiditis, but I am asymptomatic. I’ve been cold like this my whole life and the numbers just started acting oddly when I was put on doxycycline for Lyme last summer. I got bit by another tick in March and was put back on that nonsense, and guess what? My Anti TPO (for you thyroid folks in the know) was 3100 IU/mL OVER normal. It’s never been that high and I was in the middle of the evil antibiotics course. Coincidence? No way. Symptoms? Still None.

        So, the antibiotic makes my pituitary gland attack my thyroid, but thus far it’s been a tough little bugger and refuses to die. My MD even said that since my hands don’t even tremble (and they should — plus, I should be lethargic, fat, and bald), he doesn’t want me on medication.

        As I said, I’ve been cold all my life and had normal blood results up until last year. I blame the medication.

        So, why am I cold?

        Nicole wrote on May 31st, 2012
        • Nicole, I have had hypothyroidism for 7 years and can assure you not everyone has the same symptoms. Perhaps cold is all you get? Some people only get one or two symptoms from the list of over 50, some get many.

          Some people lose weight, not everyone loses hair (although I did) and even with the medication and “normal” blood levels now, I’m still a chronically cold person. Bodies are funny, and unique.

          Hope that helps!

          Mia wrote on May 31st, 2012
        • Nicole, I’m a little concerned that your doctor doesn’t want to treat you because your hands don’t tremble–that’s not really up to the standard of care and it’s not evidence-based care. Please get a second opinion! Maybe from an internist or endocrinologist. If possible, see one who is not in the same practice as the doctor you have been seeing. Even people who are totally asymptomatic are treated if their thyroid hormone levels are abnormal (with the cold intolerance you actually aren’t asymptomatic even if you had cold intolerance your whole life); and you can be asymptomatic but still experience damage. In pregnancy in particular. Anyway, please get a second opinion!

          Jen wrote on May 31st, 2012
        • Nicole when you have problems with your thyroid your hands tremble ONLY when your thyroid is OVERACTIVE.

          Please have a second opinion. Please keep in mind that there is even a petition in progress at the moment where patients with thyroid problems are complaining about poor standards of care from endocrinologists let alone primary care physicians.

          What you are describing sound very similar to how I used to feel. Cold peripheries and becoming hot when I was tired at night.

          If you are becoming hypothyroid, you need to consider a much broader range of symptoms than being “lethargic, fat and bald”. For some women symptoms may be as diverse as “unexplained” infertility, constipation, heavy periods and carpal tunnel syndrome. And when I was in medical school I could not believe how many of my fellow medical students had difficulty remembering which symptoms belonged to overactive thyroid and which belonged to underactive

          Some doctors will hesitate to start thyroid replacement therapy which is unfortunate as you could have your pituitary producing large amounts of TSH which will result in a worsening of the autoimmune problems you are having with your thyroid.

          This is a very complex problem which needs careful thought.

          Mary wrote on May 31st, 2012
        • I am very glad that he is not putting me on medication at this point. It is medication going into my body that is causing this problem and my only concern now is the length of time that it is going to take for things to regulate again, because before this second tick bite, I was almost there.

          As I said, I have always been cold and only recently ran into an issue with these numbers, so it is not new. I do not want a second opinion at this point because I do not want to fight with someone who wants to unload a drug on me. I am asymptomatic, so I do not want some synthetic anything in my body.
          If it were not for the lab results, there’s nothing about how I feel that would suggest I am anything but 110% healthy.

          Nicole wrote on June 1st, 2012
        • maybe you naturally have less brown fat. At one point when I was getting into good shape I was going to research how the special forces dudes learn cold acclimation… maybe you can see what they do and apply it to check for benefits.

          Also, on an aside note: why are eskimos fat if being cold keeps us warm? Arctic peoples also have a good ole layer of white fat to keep heat in. There must be a happy medium.

          Milemom wrote on June 2nd, 2012
        • Nicole,

          i am also cold all the time. i hate being cold.

          i have also been diagnosed with mild hypothyroidism (no hashimono tho) & Raynauld syndrome. but i dont’ have any of the typical hypo symptoms.

          actualy i’m much more cold resistent now after switching the diet.

          but still no way am i going to try cold exposure!

          oh, have i mentioned i just hate being cold? haha


          pam wrote on June 9th, 2012
    • Nicole, have you had your thyroid checked? Feeling cold all the time could be an indicator of an underactive thyroid…

      Marion wrote on May 31st, 2012
      • Nicole – you can take Armour which is not synthetic. I have really improved since starting Armour.

        Martha wrote on June 1st, 2012
        • What symptoms did you have?

          I am only having problems with my thyroid on paper, so I am sticking to my “let me be” guns. But THANK YOU for the name, I will keep it in mind if I ever develop symptoms.

          Nicole wrote on June 1st, 2012
      • Marion, tests have actually shown my thyroid being both over and under active. Right now, it’s numbers are fine, despite other numbers being crazy.

        Nicole wrote on June 1st, 2012
        • Nicole – many (?10?) years ago I had some thyroid tests on the high or low side but within limits. A nuclear anti-TPO test was off-the charts high and an endocrinologist told me that was a marker that guaranteed (in his mind/experience) that I would eventually become hypo-thyroidic – had Hashimoto’s disease.

          I simply did not want to go on a life-long medicine plan and told him I would not as long as my tests remained in the normal range. I did that – but BEFORE they got out of range, I discovered for myself that I was developing a noticable GOITER! A bulge in my neck. Sonograms confirmed my thyroid had more than doubled in size working its little heart out to produce hormones, is my take on it. I was NOT going to risk it becoming worse and went onto synthroid. In six months the goiter shrank in size to the point it is not so noticable (never was HUGE).

          I just want to put this out to you – putting it off is not risk-free if your body / thyroid just isn’t right. Oh, and I too was symptom-free, normal weight, active exerciser, good hair, etc throughout (and still).


          Valerie wrote on November 21st, 2013
    • Sounds like thyroid. Is thyroid somehow connected to the brown fat activation issue? I wonder.

      Wenchypoo wrote on June 1st, 2012
      • Sounds like since all this discussion erupted about thyroid we need some more information on the topic. One thing that I’ve noticed is really lacking on most of the paleo websites (which are largely written by men) is coverage on topics that seem to impact women. Thyroid issues seem overwhelmingly to be in the female ghetto… or at least the men are ignoring the fact that they may also have thyroid issues (all those bald guys out there…). In any case, it’s nice to see some folks speaking up about a topic that’s near and dear to my and my family members.

        Ruby wrote on June 6th, 2012
      • Thanks! I am going to need time to digest that first article! But read it and understand it, I will!

        Through continued experimentation, I have been finding that turning my shower cold every morning is making me more resistant to the cold. My hands are not as cold, and I warm up faster than I used to.

        And I am happy to report that my thyroid is still fine!

        Nicole wrote on September 19th, 2012
  15. I’m having some difficulty reconciling the need for cold with the fact that most of our evolution occurred in central Africa. How could there have been any natural selection pressure for cold in the tropics?

    Howard wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • A very fair point. Either…

      1) Brown fat is something we don’t properly understand yet.
      2) The paleo principle/WWGD is a little flawed and we should apply it more sparingly than people seem to do on MDA.

      It wouldn’t surprise if it was a little bit of both :)

      Geoff wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • Doesn’t it get cold at night in Africa?

      Michael wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • Most of our evolution in Africa was during ice ages. It was cold most of the time.

      Harry Mossman wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • Africa is a big continent, and not all of it is hot.

      Gydle wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • You have to remember that the Earth hasn’t always been as warm as it is today.

      Kyla wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • There have been glacial ages where glaciers extended almost to the equator and mass extinctions caused by periods of cold/darkness. Life would naturally have selected for strategies to survive cold.

      Glen PDQ wrote on January 31st, 2013
  16. I am 5’5″ and weigh 112lbs. Have been this weight for 20+ years. I am always cold after eating to the point my fingernails are blue. My BP has always been low (90/60). I live in the desert so I need a jacket when it’s below 80. I wonder if I have any BAT?

    Kiki wrote on May 31st, 2012
  17. I will have to give this a try tomorrow. Quite clean already today. Living in Minnesota, this winter ought to provide plenty of opportunity to test this theory.

    Greg wrote on May 31st, 2012
  18. I wonder if this explains my annual weight fluctuation. For years, I notice that in winter (Minnesota) I weigh less and soon as swim suit season hits, I gain weight. I do walk several times a week outside in the cold, plus ski and I am always cold. So does that mean I have brown fat?

    Are you sure that the hip-thigh fat we ladies carry is not brown fat – that would be awesome.

    Susan wrote on May 31st, 2012
  19. My great grandfather used to have cold showers everyday, and when he could have a warm shower he would always finish that shower with a cold water blast for 60 seconds.
    He lived an active, healthy life and lived to 90 years old. His son, my grandfather, has very similar habits and is turning 90 this year.
    This combination of cold exposure and healthy lifestyle is doing my family good.
    Hope my great grand-son/daughter can say the same thing about me.

    Liam wrote on May 31st, 2012
  20. Great example of the tyranny of public health. A disturbing meta trend in the western worlds public policy. Be afraid!

    Deadlifter wrote on May 31st, 2012
  21. I have heard a theory that women feel colder than men more often because they have the possibility of becoming pregnant, and thus require a better thermal management system that diverts blood flow from the extremities and keeps in closer to the heart/critical internal organs (or baby). Women also live longer than men on average, and I have heard that this may have something to do with it. These are just things I have heard but have done no research on yet…as I am always cold and my boyfriend never is! It’s always a compromise when going on long car trips without climate control :-)

    primalpal wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • I would believe this. When I was younger I was always cold and could hardly get warm enough to sweat. Now that I’m going through “the change” I am hot all the time. My husband calls me “furnace woman”. I used to have the mattress pad heater on, with extra blankets in the winter. Now I am so hot usually just a sheet will do it, and hubby is huddled under the blankets. I love to stand outside in the winter without a jacket and cool down.

      Elle wrote on June 1st, 2012
    • Well, one reason women feel colder then men is because they ARE. During the first part of the menstrual cycle, estrogen comes out to play, and your temperature is lower. When an egg is ready to be released, your temp takes another small dip, because a high body temp could damage an egg. Then progesterone comes out to play (which is what a fertilized egg needs to attach) and your temp rises in response. All women who are menstruating normally go thru this bi-phase shift in temps, every single cycle. As you age and your estrogen lowers (menopause) you will warm up and get hot flashes and such. As our hormones fluctuate, so does our body temp :-)

      Pepp wrote on June 2nd, 2012
  22. Right now, it is HOT where I am, but I have plans to try harder to really experience winter this year. But I have to experience summer first.

    Rhonda the Red wrote on May 31st, 2012
  23. Howard, I was under the assumption that the world’s temperature has varied often during our specie’s evolution?

    Also, would anyone in the field of metabolic disorders like to weigh in on Kiki’s dilemma?

    Fenris wrote on May 31st, 2012
  24. I sleep in snow drifts

    rob wrote on May 31st, 2012
  25. Here’s an anecdote: we had a guy visiting from Arizona for a year. He decided to swim in the lake (Lake Geneva) every single day, ALL YEAR LONG. He got skinnier and skinnier as the year went by. I think he used a wetsuit in the winter. By the end I think his body fat must have been in the single digits.

    I can’t stand going into cold water or I’d try it out. However, I do blast cold water for about 30 seconds at the end of my showers. It makes getting out so pleasant.

    Gydle wrote on May 31st, 2012
  26. Okay, but what about getting cold from the inside out? I live in Texas and between the seemingly incessant heat and my intermittent anemia I eat A LOT of ice. The ice eating keeps me very cold even when it is 100+ degrees out and I’m out on the porch soaking up the sunshine. Everyday i eat a lot of ice which gets me very cold but I also drink a big pot of elderberry green/oolong tea and that gets my furnace burning so I am getting both extremes in there. But ever since I started eating so much ice I have noticed that despite running, pilates and yoga I seem to be unable to shed those last few pounds around the waist. I usually lose weight in the summer but this year I have not been able to get back down to my “summer weight” and I had actually started to think that the ice was making me retain body fat–as in, maybe I had tricked my body into thinking I live in Alaska and have to keep that fat on all year. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Amanda wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • I’m in Texas also. I lived I. Korea during winter and gained the most weight ever had then, despite calorie restriction (plus rice carbs I’m sensitive too). I had to work in the cold etc, and same when I flew in Texas during winter often heater didn’t work, again I gained despite it all. While I might can get to a level of comfort in cool air etc, I crave being warm. Warm climate population (before modern ac etc) often were less advanced than more moderate climate population. For some heat makes people lazy, but for me I can function. I may have just a touch of brown fat, but too much cold that even includes the ac in the house just makes me uncomfortable, an hour in the warmth of the sun plus that vitamin d I’m ready to take on the day into the night!

      Tamara wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • Hey, why don’t you get an iron transfusion instead of staying anemic?? I have always battled anemia but never could imagine purposely eating ice…until one time I found myself going from fast food place to fast food place asking for cups of their tiny ice cubes/flakes/circles. I then found out that my iron was very low (didn’t realize ice eating was a symptom) and had several weeks worth of iron transfusions. I felt CONSIDERABLY better. (I don’t absorb supplements very well)

      Milemom wrote on June 2nd, 2012
  27. In warm weather, swimming in a nice cool pool is the bomb. Meaning, you get goosebumps and it’s hard to walk in, so you resort to the big jump, but once you’re in you’re happy swimming and splashing around. I’m in for hours tho, not minutes, when I can do it.

    Carla wrote on May 31st, 2012
  28. I work outside all year round, and have no central heating. I have recently started experimenting with the cold packs on the belly for half an hour a few times a week. Since then I have noticed the same thing another poster mentioned–getting very warm after eating, especially around the neck, upper back and chest. I used to experience this only after eating coconut oil.

    Blackbird wrote on May 31st, 2012
  29. Why not try an ice pack on the back of the neck and shoulders as well?

    Bob Johnston wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • That’s exactly what I plan to do.

      Cold showers? Sha! As if!

      Massage Team wrote on July 6th, 2012
  30. My 7-year-old daughter has always been thin (sinewy, not skinny-fat), eats a ton and never wears more than a t-shirt even in the winter. When the docs fixed her heart years ago, I said they set her “idle” too high. Maybe she just has a lot of brown fat!

    I just read an article in the Washington Post about heat adaptation (the body’s process for acclimating to summer heat). It said that our bodies burn more fat in hot temperatures as part of the cooling-off process. Anyone hear of that?

    BootstrapsOnMyFivefingers wrote on May 31st, 2012
  31. Interesting. California beaches are right around 55-63 degrees.

    Time to hit the surf after work more often

    Dan wrote on May 31st, 2012
  32. Yes! For years I’ve advised people to stop avoiding every inkling of temperature extreme as warming you up or cooling you down revs metabolism. Nothing is more annoying than watching overweight people pre-heat their cars with automatic starters every cold winter morning. Same goes for all the women that refuse to go in or stay in the water at beach or pools…

    Paula wrote on May 31st, 2012
  33. Mark, you know what is funny? They usually label you like accessible…But as a medical student, I have to say you are very well informed, and the ability to communicate extensive research in such a simple and appealing way shouldn’t hide the fact that you truly understand the topic! I usually try to re-check everything, but you do it for me. Thanks for Your books and articles.

    Ondřej wrote on May 31st, 2012
  34. What about people who live in chronically hot places? Like Florida? Does cooling the body also burn calories?

    Lena wrote on May 31st, 2012
  35. I’m not sure if it was intentional but I find it funny that in the picture that shows the definition of fat, it has corpulent, pudgy and also profitable, rich. The government that influences the health authorities which recommend high carb diets is making America corpulent and pudgy while making them rich.

    Ryan wrote on May 31st, 2012
  36. I feel far more energized in cold weather than I do in hot weather. Hot, humid temperatures make me tired and aggravated.

    Brian wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • Great job on your blog! Have you considered eating “primally” while continuing to bodybuild? Also, you documented your weight and body fat stat…one question that came to mind is “What is your height?”

      skeedaddy wrote on May 31st, 2012
  37. This was covered in the 4 hour body. Was very interesting reading. I know take cooler showers although I HATE being cold which is a very standard condition for me since I’ve lost weight.

    Casey wrote on May 31st, 2012
  38. It’s rather unpleasant to adapt to cold water, but the feeling when you leave the shower after “cold session” is great.

    Ondřej wrote on May 31st, 2012
  39. Hmm … I get cold and tired after eating, to the point where I need to go wrap up in bed after anything more than 10 bites of food. I can’t seem to regulate my body temp at all anymore, I’ve seen doctors about it. I tried the HCG shots last summer just to see if I could burn off the “right” kind of fat; they were thinking I didn’t have enough of the keeps-you-warm-around-the-organs kind. I eat very little and am very overweight anyway. I wonder if it’s anything to do with my fat type ratio, and if so, how would I go about fixing it? I am already cold all the time so whatever brown fat I have must be worn out.

    Deadnskinny wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • Hmm, sounds like me after eating rice 2 days running. I think I’m very allergic to the stuff. Good thing it’s now a rare item of diet. Ever think of trying an Elimination Diet? Results might shock you
      no end.

      Paysan wrote on May 31st, 2012

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