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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 31, 2012

A Primal Primer: Brown Adipose Tissue

By Mark Sisson
130 Comments

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!

TAGS:  body fat

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121 Comments on "A Primal Primer: Brown Adipose Tissue"

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Paul Alexander
4 years 6 months ago

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.

otzi
otzi
4 years 6 months ago

We’ve been discussing this for months on the forums!

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread50560.html

Harry Mossman
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Honeybuns
Honeybuns
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Kelly B
Kelly B
4 years 6 months ago

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!

Groktimus Primal
4 years 6 months ago

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.

PaleoBrrrrr-d
PaleoBrrrrr-d
4 years 6 months ago

This is non-sense! I will enjoy my hot California home and just eat fewer calories! Bogus!

Primal E
Primal E
4 years 6 months ago

Thank you. Correlation does not imply causation. Isn’t that what we primals are always saying?

fred flintstone
fred flintstone
4 years 6 months ago

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.

TB
4 years 6 months ago

That’s craziness; although, those Russians are pretty robust people, so maybe they’re on to something!

LM
LM
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Andreas
Andreas
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Otzi
Otzi
4 years 6 months ago

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 http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread50560.html

Otzi
Otzi
4 years 6 months ago
IceAged
IceAged
4 years 6 months ago

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?

Nathan
Nathan
4 years 6 months ago

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!

Ion Freeman
Ion Freeman
4 years 2 months ago

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?

Jordano
Jordano
4 years 6 months ago

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?

papatojo
papatojo
4 years 6 months ago

“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.

Brian Kozmo
3 years 6 months ago

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.

Nathan
Nathan
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Cristina
Cristina
4 years 6 months ago

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?

Anthony
Anthony
4 years 6 months ago

Hmmm, I’ve been taking cold showers for another reason. How nice to hear that they are good for more than one purpose.

Phocion Timon
Phocion Timon
4 years 6 months ago

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.

fifi
fifi
2 years 6 months ago

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.
xo

Superman078603
Superman078603
4 years 6 months ago

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!

Nicole
Nicole
4 years 6 months ago

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?

Kit Kellison
Kit Kellison
4 years 6 months ago
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 http://thyroid.about.com/library/quiz2/blthyroidquiz.htm 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,… Read more »
Nicole
Nicole
4 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Mia
Mia
4 years 6 months ago

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!

Jen
Jen
4 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Mary
Mary
4 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Nicole
Nicole
4 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Milemom
Milemom
4 years 6 months ago

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.

pam
pam
4 years 5 months ago

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

regards,

Marion
4 years 6 months ago

Nicole, have you had your thyroid checked? Feeling cold all the time could be an indicator of an underactive thyroid…

Martha
Martha
4 years 6 months ago

Nicole – you can take Armour which is not synthetic. I have really improved since starting Armour.

Nicole
Nicole
4 years 6 months ago

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
Nicole
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Valerie
Valerie
3 years 14 days ago
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… Read more »
Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
4 years 6 months ago

Sounds like thyroid. Is thyroid somehow connected to the brown fat activation issue? I wonder.

Ruby
4 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
MHock
MHock
4 years 2 months ago
Nicole
Nicole
4 years 2 months ago

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!

Howard
4 years 6 months ago

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?

Geoff
Geoff
4 years 6 months ago

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 🙂

Michael
Michael
4 years 6 months ago

Doesn’t it get cold at night in Africa?

Harry Mossman
4 years 6 months ago

Most of our evolution in Africa was during ice ages. It was cold most of the time.

Gydle
4 years 6 months ago

Africa is a big continent, and not all of it is hot.

Kyla
Kyla
4 years 6 months ago

You have to remember that the Earth hasn’t always been as warm as it is today.

Glen PDQ
Glen PDQ
3 years 10 months ago

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.

Kiki
Kiki
4 years 6 months ago

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?

Greg
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Susan
Susan
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Liam
Liam
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Deadlifter
Deadlifter
4 years 6 months ago

Great example of the tyranny of public health. A disturbing meta trend in the western worlds public policy. Be afraid!

primalpal
primalpal
4 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Elle
Elle
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Pepp
Pepp
4 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Rhonda the Red
Rhonda the Red
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Fenris
Fenris
4 years 6 months ago

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?

rob
rob
4 years 6 months ago

I sleep in snow drifts

Gydle
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Amanda
Amanda
4 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Tamara
Tamara
4 years 6 months ago
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.… Read more »
Milemom
Milemom
4 years 6 months ago

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)

Carla
Carla
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Blackbird
Blackbird
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Bob Johnston
Bob Johnston
4 years 6 months ago

Why not try an ice pack on the back of the neck and shoulders as well?

Massage Team
4 years 4 months ago

That’s exactly what I plan to do.

Cold showers? Sha! As if!

BootstrapsOnMyFivefingers
BootstrapsOnMyFivefingers
4 years 6 months ago

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?

Dan
Dan
4 years 6 months ago

Interesting. California beaches are right around 55-63 degrees.

Time to hit the surf after work more often

Paula
4 years 6 months ago

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…

Ond?ej
Ond?ej
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Lena
Lena
4 years 6 months ago

What about people who live in chronically hot places? Like Florida? Does cooling the body also burn calories?

Ryan
Ryan
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Brian
4 years 6 months ago

I feel far more energized in cold weather than I do in hot weather. Hot, humid temperatures make me tired and aggravated.

skeedaddy
skeedaddy
4 years 6 months ago

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?”

Casey
Casey
4 years 6 months ago

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.

Ond?ej
Ond?ej
4 years 6 months ago

It’s rather unpleasant to adapt to cold water, but the feeling when you leave the shower after “cold session” is great.

Deadnskinny
Deadnskinny
4 years 6 months ago
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,… Read more »
Paysan
Paysan
4 years 6 months ago

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.

em
em
4 years 6 months ago
Wait, WTF? I grew up in eastern Washington (snowy) and the San Francisco bay area (foggy and wet). When I moved to Sacramento (hot as hell for six months of the year), I gained 100lbs. I moved back to the bay area and lost 70lbs doing basically nothing different. I got pregnant and gained the 70lbs back, then moved back to Sacramento and could not get the fat to budge until I found paleo / primal. For years, I’ve joked that the hot weather makes me fat. Now… Are you telling me that the hot weather really is making me… Read more »
shannon
shannon
4 years 6 months ago
This past winter, I kept the house pretty cold, like around 55. It wasn’t for my health: I have a wood heater with heat pump back-up, and I just didn’t want to build a fire on some days b/c it took time. But I didn’t want to pay the electric company either. I got used to it, and I did lose some weight. Some of that weight has crept back on this summer, but not much. I have also noticed that when other people are cold, I am not: I was on a plane recently when most people felt too… Read more »
ash
ash
4 years 6 months ago

Huh. I always complain about the cold. Would anyone know why I would generally feel colder (i lived a year in south Texas but that was years ago) than most people and prefer warm climates, and also I’ve noticed on mornings when I eat eggs fried in coconut oil with Bacon or fish and a whole sweet potato I feel warmer and and seem to have more energy.

LowCarbMaster
4 years 6 months ago

Amazing…..So things actually make some sense now. I was wondering why sometimes even in ketosis, some people still gain or lose weight while trying to maintain (regardless of water retention) Mark is the man!

K
K
4 years 6 months ago

When I overeat I feel like I’m burning up from the inside out. I feel like I could spontaneously combust, and I’m fat….. My husband is thin and never feels hot after a meal. So I don’t know, it’s opposite in us. I’m going to start taking cold baths/showers before bed and see if that can speed my weight loss along. I hope! Atleast it should make me sleep better since i’m also burning up when sleeping.

Wyatt
Wyatt
4 years 6 months ago

Nice, reading this from the cold shower.

meegeek
meegeek
4 years 6 months ago

Have been doing the cold shower (after regular hot shower) every day for the last 2 months. Also, taking advantage of our chilly mornings here in the NW. Drive around with the windows down, get to goosebump stage. The cold showers have become very addictive, they make me feel so good, but I have not really noticed a reduction in fat, still have that last 10 pounds to shed and it is going pretty slow.

pixel
pixel
4 years 6 months ago

maybe we should alternate cold and hot showers. any advantages to hot showers, other than the enjoyment?

Julia
Julia
4 years 6 months ago

I am another one of those “crazy Russians” living in the U.S.:-). Every night after a hot shower I dump a bucket of cold water on my neck/ back. It feels AWESOME and I NEVER get sick.

David Marino
David Marino
4 years 6 months ago
Here in the far north I spent 3-5 hours per day out in the snow and wind every day, learning to track and trap animals this winter, running between traps. Now (trapping season is over for 2 months) when I eat a good sized meal after a day of work I get very noticeably warmer than before, even though it is well into spring. This article explains why. I eat a god variety of fats – free-range eggs, grass-fed free-range butter, extra-virgin coconut oil, fat from free-range animals and wild game, fish eggs and fatty fish, olive oil. Eating those… Read more »
David Marino
David Marino
4 years 6 months ago

I wonder about the fat soluble toxins of industrial society, and their effect on accumulation and activation of brown fat, and how effectively daily sauna therapy (with cold shower breaks) can detox the brown fat, as it does with white fat. It probably does a good job – the Finnish people seem to have proven that.

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