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

Is Central Heating Related to Obesity?

Why are so many people in first-world countries so overweight? Why is metabolic syndrome so prevalent? The familiar contenders are diet and exercise – more specifically, the wrong kind of each. Both Conventional Wisdom types and nutrition nerds (myself included) agree that we’re doing something wrong in the kitchen and the gym, and that fixing that stuff could solve most of our weight (and even health) problems. Of course, that’s about all we agree on. Specific definitions of “fixing” and “that stuff” remain subjects of vociferous debate. That said, I like when we can agree on something, even if that something is just speculation about another possible factor in the obesity problem. In today’s Monday Musings we’ll take a look at one such factor.

A recent study out of the journal Obesity Reviews notes that it’s not just diet and activity levels that have changed in correlation with rising obesity numbers, but ambient temperature. To be more specific, people are heating their homes at all hours of the day, even as they sleep, and spending less time outdoors exposed to the elements. Central heating is more common, while space heaters, fireplaces, and electric heaters are less common, meaning the entire house gets and stays warm. People in developed countries exist in relative thermoneutrality: a nice 68-72 degrees F. The authors guess that with less exposure to thermal stress, we’re burning fewer calories. Our bodies have an easier time regulating our internal temperatures, and expend less energy doing so.

On the surface, their ideas might remind you of the outdated, overly-simplistic calories in, calories out model, where people are fat because they eat a few extra candies between lunch and dinner that add a few dozen calories to their daily allotment. It’s more complex than that, though. Exposure to cold is a type of stressor; to be specific, it’s a thermal stressor. Our bodies respond to stressors by adapting and (hopefully) improving, as you well know, and hypothermal stressors, like taking a cold bath, going for a swim in the middle of winter, or even letting the heat go off at night, induce the creation of brown fat. Brown fat is different from the reviled and feared “white fat” in that it keeps us warm by burning white fat. Newborns have lots of brown fat because they can’t shiver, can’t crawl (away from cold and toward warmth), and have underdeveloped central nervous systems that can’t be counted on to react quickly enough to changes in ambient temperature. It’s how they stay warm. Adults have far less brown fat, but they can develop more through exposure to cold. Furthermore, brown fat levels in adult humans are highest during winter and linked with less visceral fat and a lower BMI. If you’re subjectively cold, chances are you’re spurring the creation of new brown fat or increasing the activity of already-present brown fat.

This all seems quite reasonable, doesn’t it? I do love it when I can agree with obesity researchers.

On a different note, a quick word about that Yahoo! Shine article floating around. You know, the one telling you the eight ways carbs will make you lose weight. It’s silly and not worth a lot of typing, so I’ll make it short. The thing that jumps out at me is the author’s obsession with “Resistant Starch.” First of all, I’m not sure why it deserves repeated capitalization (maybe it’s some sort of deity?), and second, resistant starch is just another type of prebiotic whose fermentation by microbiota releases beneficial short chain fatty acids. You can get the same kind of reaction by eating other sources of soluble fiber, many of them decidedly low-carb. Think leafy greens, broccoli, berries, apples, jicama, onions, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes. And yes, if your activity levels and metabolic health permit, Primal starches are good sources of resistant starch and soluble fiber alike, but it’s not the carbs doing it. It’s the “carbs” that you literally cannot digest without your little microscopic friends’ assistance.

Can keeping central heating on really be at least somewhat responsible for the obesity epidemic? Have you ever noticed a correlation between ambient temperature and your own weight? Let me know in the comment section!

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. No idea if this is related or is helping my wife and I, but we’ve started sleeping with the setting down to 65 degrees and we’re getting better rest than ever.

    The rest of this sounds good. I know that Tim Ferriss is also pushing this concept in his new book.

    D. Cole wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Mark, as you can read on, people have posted some really valid points, crediting and discrediting the belief that central heating units are contributing to obesity especially in this country, yet at the same time I believe some relevant information has been overlooked. I will mention this as succinctly as possible, most of my clinical observations arise from the fact that people are not only becoming obese, which is very obvious but that obesity stems from the level of inflammation that is being overlooked, in the winter months, or any other for that matter, having cold feet and hands creates and inflammatory condition, when blood drops a couple degrees to circulate thru your body it releases inflammatory mediators, so sleeping in a cold room, and this is very subjective of course, but maintaining body heat can really improve a inflammation response and insomnia, another stressor, in this case cause by a thermal issue.
      And I agree that sleeping in a cool room improves in the quality of sleep, nothing will bomb a night of sleep faster that a hot steaming room.
      If we look at the causes of inflammation I believe we can get a much more accurate explanation on the major causes of obesity. (Blood sugar levels control, PUFAs are a major contributors of estrogen imbalances, Hypothyroidism)


      Ruben wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • all my life, i have an aversion to cold.
        (cold weather, cold drinks, cold food); the warmer the better.

        it’s got a lot better since i switched my diet to hyperlipid (~ 60% SFA) so at least i don’t need gloves in summer now.
        (i kid you not; i need gloves/socks in summer).

        65F is definitely Antarctica for me. i can’t sleep in that kind of temperature (fingers and toes are too cold)

        my thyroid is normal. & all tests are normal; except i have mild Raynauld syndrome.

        exercise only warms me up when i am doing it. the moment i stop moving, i chill down in few minutes.

        did i say i hate hate hate to be cold?


        PHK wrote on February 1st, 2011
        • sorry, i meant 60% FAT (preferably SFA).


          PHK wrote on February 1st, 2011
        • Hi PHK,
          I used to have the same problem staying warm. My basal body temp ran 95.8 degrees. My thyroid also tested normal, even though I had multiple clinical symptoms of hypothyroidism. Turns out that blood tests for thyroid function are horribly inaccurate. I was iodine deficient.

          Check your body temperature when you first get up. If it runs consistently low (under 97 or so) chances are good you are marginally hypothyroid or iodine deficient. Try supplementing with kelp and see if that helps you stay warm.

          Dawn wrote on February 2nd, 2011
  2. Mark,

    I do know this…when I lived in Alaska for 4 years (Fairbanks), I gained 10 lbs that I could NOT lose…when I left the state permanently, the weight came off within 30 days. Not sure what this does for your theory…

    Rita wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • I lived in Fairbanks for 4 years as well and had that EXACT same phenomena: gained 10 lbs, left 4 years later and lost that 10 lbs in ONE MONTH!!! Interesting!

      Rita wrote on September 14th, 2011
  3. I’ve been using 20 min ice baths 3 times a week for 3 weeks since reading about them in the four hour body. Not sure how much they are helping, but it’s only been 3 weeks.

    Nate wrote on January 31st, 2011
  4. I have noticed. I live in Florida and always seem to be in better shape in the winter, when it is colder outside, rather than the summer when temperatures are warmer and more stable. Tim Ferris has a really good article on this in his new book “The 4 hour body” that advocates drinking ice cold water upon waking, taking cold showers, and using an icepack on your neck at night to spurn the production of hormones in your glands to produce brown fat. It’s nice to see all the sources I read about health and fitness coming together to a common point.

    Chris wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Tim Ferris is a charlatan. You should be ashamed for listening to shim

      Jack wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • Wow, that’s the first time I’ve read that. Is that simply a sarcastic statement, or one born of truth?

        In his recent book (already mentioned), or rather the offering from his book, namely the cookbook, there are a great quantity of most excellent recipes.

        And my favorites of the bunch came from, guess where, no… wait for it… Yes! They came from Mark’s Daily Apple. And, because of them, I found my way here, and have also been pouring through the PB and the PB Cookbook.

        My conclusion is, should your words be true, rather than suspect, that you are– by extension- saying perhaps this site as well is the work of a charlatan.

        As I know this is not true, I must conclude that you were being sarcastic, especially in light of the mention of not talking to Shim. Who in the heck is Shim anyway.


        Michael wrote on February 1st, 2011
  5. Seems like it’s more likely that people who live somewhere where you need to keep the heat on most of the time are less likely to be active outside and thus gain more weight. Spurious correlation.

    John wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Yeah similar to how a disproportionate number of top baseball prospects come from warm climates … it’s not that a warm climate makes you a better baseball player, it’s that you can play year around.

      rob wrote on January 31st, 2011
  6. This study in Obesity Review appears to have not
    considered the Inuit, the native peoples of Siberia, and several European groups, all of whom live in cold climates and all of whom have a higher percentage of body fat. This extra fat may act as insulation. But I
    don’t think that temperature is the whole story. The peoples of Polynesia, esp. Samoa, (very warm places indeed), also tend to carry extra body fat. It implies that genetics figure in as well.

    bev wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • The Samoans and Polynesians didn’t have much extra body fat until they began consuming refined western carbs and vegetable oils. They didn’t have nearly as much when they ate their traditional native diets.

      Trav wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • You forgot 9/10ths of Canada!
      -40 Celsius with the windchill today where I am (Saskatchewan).
      -58 in Iqaluit.

      Andrea wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • I agree with you Saskie Girl. If we didn’t have central heat here our pipes would freeze, we’d be washing clothes on the stove, things would pretty much revert to 1880. People in warm places can muse about the effect of central heating all day long. We need it to live!

        Lis wrote on January 31st, 2011
  7. I disagree. Association does not prove causation. The warmer we feel, the less we eat and vice-versa. Putting on more clothes does not make us get fatter.

    See Determinants of the Variability in Human Body-fat Percentage.

    Nigel Kinbrum wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • You state the ultimate lay-scientists catch-phrase: “Association does not prove causation”, (people usually say correlation, not association), followed immediately in the next sentence by an association (and with no reference)!

      Then you post a link to your own blog post that contains dozens of black and white statements and only one obscure reference to the complexity of human physiology.

      Tony Ingram wrote on February 5th, 2011
      • Putting on more clothes doesn’t make us get fatter. Do you have any evidence to the contrary? The warmer I am, the less I eat and the more weight I lose. I always get fatter in the Winter and slimmer in the Summer, just like wild animals. This makes sense, as sub-Q fat acts as thermal insulation.

        My blog post contains 21 statements and links to a discussion and a video. If you disagree with any of what I wrote there, please leave a comment.

        Nigel Kinbrum wrote on February 6th, 2012
  8. I definitely think central heating has some impact on weight retention and weight loss, although how much is likely partially dependent on individual body compositions and metabolisms. My boyfriend has lost over 70lbs since we first met and his times of most drastic weight-loss have centred around our wonderfully frigid winters. The winter previous to this one, he lost about 20lbs between early December and late March and then only lost about 10lbs from early April until this past November. That being said, in the same period of time that he lost those 20lbs, I gained 5lbs and then dropped those plus another 2lbs over the summer, almost matching him in weight-loss (despite being far smaller and not really overweight). I can’t lose weight when it’s cold, even though we keep our house at a max of 68F and an average temperature of 65F. At night we let it go down to about 60F in the bedroom. I frequently spend my hour of walking out in the Canadian winter, which stays below freezing from December through March and still don’t usually lose more than a pound but in the summer I can easily drop 2-4lbs a month. My boyfriend is the opposite, although at a much greater scale. He can’t lose in the summer and drops in the winter (as long as we keep the house temperature low).

    Samantha wrote on January 31st, 2011
  9. It’s interesting but I’m not sure about the science behind it. Don’t people living nearer the equator also live in relative thermal neutrality (if anything, they get cold when they come *indoors*) yet a SAD-diet just as assuredly causes metabolic disorders.

    Additionally, overweight people, if anything, feel warmer than their thinner counterparts. Shouldn’t average temperatures be going down if obesity is going up?

    Interesting but questionable.

    Steve wrote on January 31st, 2011
  10. Nothing wrong with ice baths and skiing and spending time in the cold if there’s a sauna waiting at the other end……

    fitmom wrote on January 31st, 2011
  11. I set the thermostat to 64 from 11 pm to 6 am and even then I sometimes turn on the ceiling fan in the bedroom.

    I did read The 4 Hour Body, and Tim’s suggestions of ice baths and cold showers but that seems like a really unpleasant experience. Art De Vany suggests switching to cold water at the end of your shower to promote the growth of brown fat and that seems to be a much easier thing to deal with. It also wakes you up better than a cup of coffee!

    The causes of obesity are complex and many but I think central heating is a minor one, if one at all.

    Dave Fish wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Art also encourages taking walks with not quite enough clothing to feel warm.

      Kelda wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • In winter, switching to cold water at the end of my shower makes me hold my breath. Not comfortable at all. We keep our house at 68 when we’re home and at 65 at night and when we’re at work.

      This is the first year in a long time I haven’t gone for daily walks outside. It’s been nasty weather, with sleet and freezing rain every couple of days, and icy walkways, so I’ve been sticking to the gym for exercise.

      Lynn wrote on February 1st, 2011
  12. Consider these questions: How cold does it get in the middle of winter in a tropical african savannah? And what about all the extremely fit hunter gatherer populations in the tropical forests of South America where 60F in the middle of ‘winter’ is ‘cold’?

    Also recall the premise that we are still optimally adapted for the hunter/gatherer lifestyle of early humans (and the associated environments), and so should model our activity and diet on those lines as best as we can.

    All of this makes the contention that being too warm is a contributing factor to obesity in developed countries seem rather fragile to me.

    That does not mean that there cold exposure does not confer positive health benefits (I think it does and do consciously expose myself to cold). But I think the arguments made in this post represent too much of a leap of reasoning.

    My 2¢ .


    Apurva Mehta wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Perhaps it’s a circadian thing, staying the same temperature at night as during the day. Even in the desert and tropics the temp drops significantly at night. I think that’s what is being said here. I could be wrong, though. Anyway, something to think about.
      I know I sleep much better when I turn the heat down to 60-62 degrees at night during the winter months here in northern IA.

      Trav wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • That’s exactly what I’m thinking… Longer nights in the winter + colder temperatures = longer and better quality sleep.

        The only thing I can think is that perhaps we were supposed to gain weight in the fall when berries and other higher carb food was better available… and then we’re supposed to lose weight as we use it for heat in the winter? (cyclic spring gain summer maintenance…etc.)

        Either way, I’ll take better sleep any day.

        Holly J. wrote on February 1st, 2011
  13. I’ve actually been experimenting with cold exposure and drinking Ice Water (Yeah, 4 Hour Body- great book!) And I have noticed a marked uptick in fat loss in addition to the weight I’ve lost since going Primal this last fall.

    Feeling fantastic.

    Thanks Mark!

    -Steve Gunn

    SteverGunn wrote on January 31st, 2011
  14. I have been getting outside everyday, rain or shine (I definitely prefer shine though). I really dislike cold rainy days, partly because I am a “princess” but partly because I think even our ancestors probably didn’t like them much either. I have always turned the heat off at night, I like my room cold with a warm blanket, can’t sleep when I am too warm.

    Mary wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • I guess what I am trying to say is, while it may not be scientfically correlated, I can absolutely see a loose relation between central heating and weight gain, especially in climates where the winter weather makes it unpleasant for “princes” and “princesses” like me to get outdoors.

      Mary wrote on January 31st, 2011
  15. I am quite fit and muscular and have 5-6% bodyfat. My sister is obese. When she is visiting me she always complains about the so called “low temperature” in my flat.

    I walk around in my flat in tanktops and sometimes barechested when i’m alone. I never feel any cold. She wears double sweaters and still feel cold.

    I take cold showers in the morning (well, i use almost lukewarm water to wash the soap off but i hate showering in hot water) and she says she always shower in hot water, never cold.

    I wear t-shirt or a thin sweater under my winter jacket, and it’s not even a very insulated expensive jacket either. Just a normal jacket. I don’t seem to freeze at all as long as i move around at a good pace. It’s a little boring walking anywhere with my sister because she is too slow and i have to slow down and then i might freeze a little bit.

    Here in Sweden the winters get very cold but my ancestors obviously didn’t have 800$ scientifically insulated arctic jackets or anything like that. They just got used to the temperature. Like i have.

    A prime example of primal living in the modern world i’d say!

    Bjorn wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Sounds very likely that your sister has hypothyroidism. I am hypothyroid and although I lost 90 pounds, when I was obese I was always cold. I am still cold and frequently my fingers and toes turn blue but I have had this for so long that I have just learned to deal with it. I do love to sleep in my very cold bedroom though and if its too warm I dont feel well. My body temp is always 97.6 or below unless I am sick and at 98.6 I have a temp. One thing I have noticed eating primal is that although I still get cold I can tolerate the cold much better then I did before.

      Liz wrote on January 31st, 2011
  16. You know, this post really made me think about how confusing it can be for people to try to get it right when it comes to their diet. I think many people agree that what we eat causes many of our health issues, however, it’s like a million “experts” that claim they have the right formula and that everyone else has it wrong. This confuses so many people. I guess in the end, you just have to decide for yourself?

    And to get more on-topic, thanks for this post. It really opened my eyes to the biological affects of the temperature in our physical surroundings. In all my years being into “health stuff,” I’ve never really thought about this.

    Alvin wrote on January 31st, 2011
  17. Others have pointed out that obesity is common everywhere. But not what kind of fat these folks are carrying around. Is it brown fat or white fat? Of course this is the first time I’ve heard of brown fat so I’m off to do some research. I just wanted to share a thought on others comments.

    Emmers wrote on January 31st, 2011
  18. Bjorn, my experience has always been that obese people tend to get hotter than those of us with low body fat. Interesting that it’s the opposite in your case. I have around the same body fat as you, however I’m always cold.

    Alvin - Six Pack Training wrote on January 31st, 2011
  19. I also read Ferriss’ suggestion in 4HB about cold baths. I’ve been taking 10-15 minute 75-80 degree showers/baths for about week, and I notice that my previous fat-loss plateau is moving in the right direction now. I think if you’re interested at all you should try it for some time. Worst case scenario is that you’re a little cold. I also don’t wear a coat when I’m outside (I do bring it with me though, just in case).

    Eric wrote on January 31st, 2011
  20. I read another study several years ago proving that people who live in cold climates burn more fat and have less body fat in general. I moved from Boston to Atlanta and saw this theory proven in the flesh, so to speak. I myself had a harder time keeping off the fat and couldn’t believe the extreme levels of obesity here. Now granted, that has a lot to do with the traditional diet down here, but I know a lot of people who exercise religiously.

    Rebecca wrote on January 31st, 2011
  21. Brown fat or not I cannot stand being cold, and it seems like after I dropped below 140lbs all my “keep me warm fat” disappeared. :( I wish their was a solution to help my body regulate its temperature better, so I wasn’t cold all the time and bundled up like Ralphie on Christmas Story.

    Ashley Smith wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • I lost about 40 lbs, and since then my thighs ache from the cold when ever it gets around 30 degrees. The rest of my body can handle it, but for some reason it just kills my thighs.

      Poppabear wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • I wonder if that’s the case with me? I’ve never been overweight so I’ve only lost a few pounds, but I’ve definitely gained muscle and lost a bit of body fat (about 3% if my scale is to be believed). The past two winters have been brutal on my thighs. It’s this deep ache. The skin on my thighs is also more sensitive to the cold now. Wearing leggings or tights under my clothes has helped a lot, but it’s annoying because I have to wear them even if it’s not that cold.

        Lena wrote on February 1st, 2011
  22. Hi, i kind of agree with this. I notice that in the winter i tend to put on some weight. but i think that it comes from the fact that i dont do much in the winter. i usually sit around avoid being cold beccause i dont like it. This winter im gonna try to stay active and turn down the heat during the day and see the effect.

    gaby wrote on January 31st, 2011
  23. Having just returned from the freezing UK to sunny California where I stayed with my parents who heat just one room and I had to put my pajamas on over my clothes before pulling my clothes out from underneath so my poor skin didn’t get frostbite and where you have to go out in the freezing cold if I wanted to go anywhere (I didn’t hire a car) I noticed I could eat just about anything starchy (and there’s a lot of starch in England) and not gain weight. Made a change to the 10lb weight gain I usually endure.

    Alison Golden wrote on January 31st, 2011
  24. My wife is constantly cold and is a very healthy weight. I’m always hot and could stand to lose those extra pounds. Not sure if that has anything to do with it, but it is something to consider.

    Trey Crowe wrote on January 31st, 2011
  25. The very first year we moved into this house we were afraid to turn the heater on until it got serviced. It was an extremely cold winter, and it was the first time in years that I lost weight without trying. I was actually eating cookies every night before bedtime in an effort to keep myself warm! Alas, the effect started to wear off by winter’s end, and I’ve never experienced this effect since, even though we never turn the heat on until November. (Which means we live through a few weeks of shivering.)

    dragonmamma wrote on January 31st, 2011
  26. I have a correlation the other way. I used to be one of those people who was NEVER cold. I have a picture from Disney Land where it looks like I’m photoshopped in, because the family is in beanie and sweatshirts and I’m in a tank top. (November in SoCal)

    However since I lost over 80lbs on PB I occasionally get cold. Maybe I burned off the brown fat too?

    I’m deliberately exposing myself to cold more and making myself endure it to get that indifference to the temperature back.

    Yaish wrote on January 31st, 2011
  27. I wonder how much it has to do with local adaptations to climate. If your ancestors have dwelt in an area of extreme climate for 40k years, would you have developed a way to deal with excess heat/cold along the way? Triggered genes to store fat during the lean cold months, and trickle feed from it when fresh food was not available? This may have been dealt with somewhere else before.. My mind is just wandering…

    Poppabear wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • I think lack of calories is the main, if not only thing telling your body to conserve fat and seek warmth. I’m Scandinavian and my ancestors probably ate plenty of mammoth steaks in both winter and summer, during the ice age there wasn’t a huge difference between winter and summer anyways.

      Yea to Life wrote on January 31st, 2011
  28. This post is serendipitous. I started reading 4 Hour Body, and the cold exposure part was the one part that made the most sense to me. I tried cold showers today and yesterday and they definitely seem to have a thermogenic effect. When I take a long hot shower I feel cold after I get out, I presume because my body reduces its heat output in response to the new external heat source. But when I get out of a 5-10 minute cool or cold shower I feel warm for an hour or more, I also have more energy. My body probably mobilizes more fat in case I’m exposed to the cold again.

    I haven’t added legumes or binge days to my diet, however. lmao

    What do the other posters think about that part of the book?

    It seems most of the examples of people for whom that diet has worked for have been obese. But almost any diet works for obese people. I only need to lose 10 lbs of fat at most, so I think I’ll stick to a low carb paleo diet.

    Tim’s criticism of fructose in fruit struck me though. I think I may reduce my fruit intake to just a few blueberries.

    Yea to Life wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • I just finished 4 Hour Body after seeing it on Dr. Oz (who endorsed it!). I’m not willing to do the cold showers, but I am doing the ice packs at night.

      I have hypothyroid issues, so I’m always cold and have ice cold hands and feet. Since I started doing the ice pack on my neck and back at night for an hour, I’m finding I’m warmer during the day.

      I’m only in my first week of the ice packs so I don’t yet know the impact on body fat. I’ve been stuck for a while, so hopefully this will help get me on the downward slide again.

      Kethry wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • You could try just an ~80 degree shower, this is more cool than cold. I’ve been starting out at ~90 and working my way down to ~50 over the course of a few minutes until I’m about to start shivering. I think the study that Tim cited about cold showers had the water at 54 degrees.

        I’m not going to do a completely cold shower though, here in Minnesota the cold water feels like ice water.

        Yea to Life wrote on January 31st, 2011
        • I just took the temperature of my cold water, it’s actually about 60 degrees even though it feels like sub 40. Running water is deceptive!

          Yea to Life wrote on January 31st, 2011
        • Lived in Japan for 15 years and those people soak in extremely hot baths everyday, both at home and onsens, baths so hot the water is almost scalding. Then there are the saunas … didn’t see too many fatties there …

          Dirk wrote on January 31st, 2011
  29. Like the rest of our bodies, which function best when they’re used regularly, our internal thermostat probably gets fat and lazy in hermetically sealed buildings. Being exposed to the elements–whether its cold and still, warm and windy, humid and rainy, or just plain hot–and then responding physiologically, takes energy.
    Being in the weather (within reason) is a barefoot experience for your whole body.
    Awaiting Marks’ next post on primal nudist colonies…..

    fitmom wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • I agree with this. Let your body regulate your temperature.

      I adjust my thermostat as close to ambiant outdoor temps as I can be comfortable in when dressed appropriately for the climate and season. And that’s a bit over 80 (with fan on) in summer and upper 60s in winter. I’m disappointed in myself that I can’t go lower in winter. But then again, it’s actually colder than that thermostat setting near the floor and in the rooms I am in…

      And I go outdoors a great deal.

      betterways wrote on December 13th, 2012
  30. … when i saw this headline the other day somewhere else – i couldn’t help but think “jeeeze – they’re really grabbing for straws now – or headlines…”

    DaiaRavi wrote on January 31st, 2011
  31. Since going primal,I’ve tried to turn down the temperature on my showers, at least to warm (I used to take them scalding hot). Of course, I can’t say how much of my overall improvement has been related to the cold water, since I went primal at the same time, but I do seem to have more energy after I shower, especially if I use really cold water at the end.
    I’ve read research before about more chlorine being absorbed by the body with hot water, so that was my reason to avoid it.
    We also just made the change to cooler temperatures at night (and during the day too) and everyone , including the babies, seem to be sleeping better.

    Katie wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • That’s true about the chlorine. Warm and hot water opens up your pores and allows the bad chemicals in water into your body, and there are more bad chemicals in tap water than just chlorine.

      Yea to Life wrote on January 31st, 2011
  32. Hmm. I dunno about all this. In my experience, I’ve carried around 50+ extra pounds for the last 20 years and I am always freezing despite the insulation. For three years we’ve lived in coastal NSW and our old house is COLD in the winter. We’re talking average temps of 52F during the day, colder at night and that’s just indoors. I couldn’t drop weight without trying.
    Interestingly enough, my body temp is regulating better now that I’ve lost 20 pounds since August. I’m sweating more, too. And I have to say the weight is coming off much quicker now that I’m following primal principles and not good ol’ CW.

    Shelli wrote on January 31st, 2011
  33. So why aren’t there more fat people in equatorial countries? There are some; it’s a myth that no fat people exist in developing countries. (So much for the calories in/calories out model.) But you’d think there’d be a ton of them if lack of “thermic stress” or whatever you call it, was a contributor to obesity.

    Dana wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Probably has more to do with lack of food. Mexico has huge rates of childhood obesity since adopting a more Americanized diet. IIRC Mississippi is the fattest state in the union. If you google ‘fattest states’ you can see they tend to be southern states. Why is this?

      Yea to Life wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • I think the main reason that these southern states are the fattest states has more to do with poverty rates than temperature. Obesity rates in the poor are disproportionately high when compared to the rest of the population.

        Winni wrote on January 31st, 2011
  34. I think that a cold bath/shower/plunge that many are mentioning is way, way different than living in a house with less heating. The positive effects of cold plunges have to do with the shock to your system, blood flow and endorphins, etc.

    Living in a cold house can cause weight loss- the one year we had the indoor temp at 45 we were shivering so much that we lost weight. We also looked like hell and were grumpy.

    Now we heat to 55 or 60 during the day, down to 50 or 52 at night. In the summer the inside temp is the same as the outside so usually 75-80. This type of heating and cooling saves money, but I don’t think it does a thing to our weights.

    Dasha wrote on January 31st, 2011
  35. Whatever the answer is to this question, it makes me feel better before my 20 minute walk home in -4 degrees Farenheit. Brr…. when do my winter vibes arrive?

    Stef wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Is anywhere selling them yet?

      Kelda wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • I haven’t seen them anywhere but on Mark’s weekend links post. My eyes are peeled though!

        Stef wrote on February 1st, 2011
  36. Mr Grok thinks you are either a polar bear or a brown bear, he’s a brown bear, he is rarely warm, wears lots of layers when outside in our Scottish winters and defines ‘jumper weather’ (ie more than a teeshirt) as 16 degrees and below! However anything over 25 and he’s not that happy either!

    Me, I’m a polar bear, tonight I was at yoga in a vest and shorts, everyone else was wearing layers and complaining it was cold (they are all overweight bar one). I have to sleep in a cold room with a window open regardless of outside temperature. We have the heating switched off from 10 pm unless it is going well below zero in which case the radiators are set to frost setting!

    But I also love the heat; even raced an IM in the mid 30s without difficulty. I find weight loss harder through the winter regardless of exercise protocols – I’m sure that’s a day length thing and hiberation! Squirrels will store fat in the autumn irrespective of food supply they have, if need be they convert their muscle to fat ready to overwinter so that is being triggered by either temperature/day length or both I guess.

    Kelda wrote on January 31st, 2011
  37. Right. anything to keep from facing the fact that we have been led astray by the CW and that it’s the carbs (specifically the refined garbage) that has caused us to become a nation of obese, unhappy folk.

    Exercise has nothing to do with weight btw. It only increases your appetite. It’s great for getting fit but don’t count on it to lose weight. But TPTB don’t want to discuss THAT either.

    Better to blame it on central heating. Yeah. That’s it. Think of the money we’ll all save as we sit around in our 50 degree homes in the winter shivering off all that fat.

    And just for the record, I’ve kept our home at 68 daytime/63 nighttime for decades now. Hasn’t helped either of us in the fat department.

    Darleen wrote on January 31st, 2011
  38. I’m lucky. I live in San Diego, just moved into my new place 2 weeks ago and have yet to need any heat here in January!

    Kevin wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • Its crazy how I stumbled across your comment…

      Where did you live before? Outside of SD or somewhere else? I live in Grand Rapids, MI and hope to move to Cali before 2012 strikes.

      Great blog by the way! I came across your honey nut cheerios post which is crazy since I stocked honey nut cheerios today and thought about how I could easily make a blog post out of that since millions believe it is healthy for absurd reasons.

      I will still write my own version of it but will definitely link to your post this weekend or the next!

      Primal Toad wrote on January 31st, 2011
    • It’ll be interesting to see if that cold tolerance sticks. My own experience living both in California and the Midwest is that your body adapts to the local climate pretty soon; this is why visiting tourists from cold places are wandering around in t-shirts while the locals are bundled up in jeans and coats, complaining about the cold.

      Rana wrote on February 2nd, 2011

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!