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Forecast Fat Loss: The Unexpected Temperature That Could Aid In Weight Loss


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Forecast Fat Loss: The Unexpected Temperature That Could Aid In Weight Loss

  1. 1. JUNE/JULY 2016 $6.99 US / $7.99 CAN 5 WAYS TO KICK-START YOUR WEIGHT LOSS TODAY! Bacon Peach Crunch Available in: Paleo Magazine’s Summer Cookbook (& on p. 12!) 13 TIPS to Perfect Your Kettlebell Swing Top Post-Workout Foods Key Differences Between the Paleo Gluten-Free diets
  3. 3. Subscribe at: June/July 2016 55 Megan P atiry It’s a meme floating through the social media universe that seems to resonate with most of us. One of the constant measures of an effective workout, after all, has always been how red-faced and sweaty we are at its conclusion. Soaked-through gear and a dripping brow definitely cause us to feel as if we’re blasting away fat faster than if, say, we were running sprints in sub-zero temperatures. However, it turns out that this chill factor might be the real burner when it comes to fat loss. “Sweat is just fat crying.” While it might seem counterintuitive at first glance, a study conducted in December 2015 confirmed that fat loss is triggered in response to cold temperatures, while also showing that cold exposure has the ability to mimic the effect of exercise and improve glucose metabolism.1 The mechanism boils down to an alteration in our trusty gut microbes and their influence on different types of adipose tissue, aka fat. Brown for the Burn All mammals have two types of adipose tissue: white and brown. White adipose tissue is the “energy-storage” tissue that, when accumulated in excess, causes obesity. Brown adipose tissue, on the other hand, is found mostly in young children, as it effectively generates heat to protect them from extreme cold. Researchers claim it to be “essentially nonexistent and without physiologic relevance” in adults, but have discovered that if we (adults) had more brown adipose tissue, we could effectively spur our metabolisms: “estimates suggest that if it were present, as little as 50g of maximally stimulated brown adipose tissue could account for up to 20 percent of daily energy expenditure in an adult human.”1 As we know, increased energy expenditure equals more fat burned. So, if we could somehow stimulate our bodies to produce more brown adipose tissue than white, we’d theoretically be on the path to greater fat loss—and this is where our gut microbes and chilly temperatures come in. Researchers decided to test the link between intestinal bacteria, weight and temperature, and discovered that just 10 days of exposure to cold temperatures (6°C/43°F) caused “a major shift in the composition of gut microbes while preventing weight gain” in mice.1 These cold-exposed microbes were then implanted into mice raised in a germ-free environment, where researchers found that the transplanted microbes improved glucose metabolism and caused weight loss “by promoting the formation of beige fat.” “These findings demonstrate that gut microbes directly regulate the energy balance in response to changes in the environment,” said senior study author Mirko Trajkovski of the University of Geneva. This energy regulation is so direct that just a three-hour period of cold exposure burned 250 extra calories through the activation of brown fat.2 Another piece of support for cold exposure comes from a separate study conducted in January 2015, which showed that white adipose tissue can also turn into brown adipose tissue. Researchers found that roughly “30 percent of cells that appear to be white adipocytes before cold stress can rapidly turn on the brown adipocyte program following cold stress.” In other words, cold stress has the ability to rapidly change 30 percent of our white adipose tissue into brown, metabolic-enhancing adipose tissue.3 Nutrients Receive a Not-So-Chilly Welcome Aside from fat loss, cold exposure also has another trick up its sleeve. Researchers found in the same study that cold- exposed gut microbes cause intestinal growth, which results in more nutrient absorption due to the greater surface area of the intestines. “These findings demonstrate that gut microbes enable mammals to harvest more energy from food as a way to adapt to the increased energy demand associated with long periods of cold exposure, thereby helping to protect against hypothermia,” Trajkovski said. “We were surprised to see that gut microbes had such dramatic effects on the structure and function of the intestine.” Getting Cold Mimicking the effect of these studies requires one strategy that you might not initially be in love with, but your brown- adipose-producing microbes will: cold showers. Also referred to in the medical field as a form of hydrotherapy or cold therapy, the practice has been used medicinally in cultures around the world for centuries. Hippocrates endorsed it as a cure for inflammation and pain, while the ancient Romans reportedly alternated bathing in hot water pools with taking a dip in the frigidarium, or cold water bath. While the ancients obviously used cold therapy for more than fat loss, the same concept can be used to mimic the effect of cold exposure seen in the above studies. Although the results likely won’t be as drastic as spending 10 days—or even a sustained three hours—exposed to cold, there is evidence that shivering for just 10 to 15 minutes releases the same amount of irisin, a muscle hormone triggered by exercise, as one hour of moderate exercise.4 The goal with these showers (shivering included) is to induce this effect by stimulating brown adipose tissue over time in order to raise the metabolic rate. However, before you go leaping into the iciest shower known to man, it’s important to know that you should build up your tolerance to the showers by gradually increasing the temperature from lukewarm to very cold to the touch. Toggle between cold for two minutes, then warm for two minutes, working your way up to a total of 10 minutes altogether each time you shower.
  4. 4. If your resolve begins to fade once you start shivering, just keep in mind that a study conducted in Scandinavia also found that exposure to cold temperatures “increased the metabolic rate of brown fat by fifteen fold, which could help a person drop nine pounds in a year if sustained.”5 Interestingly, your resolve may begin to strengthen the longer you stick with the showers. Studies of winter swimmers have shown a marked decrease in “negative moods” and a decrease in tension and fatigue.6 Exposure to cold stimuli has also been shown to reduce stress,7 which, as we know, can be a major factor in losing body fat. It appears that cold exposure activates the sympathetic nervous system, thereby increasing the release of norepinephrine—the adrenal hormone that can cause a mood “lift” in depressed individuals. By feeling less stressed, we’re also able to lower our cortisol levels, which has been linked to lower levels of belly fat. Echoing the words of Gerald Weissmann, MD, “If you want to rev up your metabolism, don’t throw out your winter coat just yet.”  COLD STRESS HAS THE ABILITY TO RAPIDLY CHANGE 30 PERCENT OF OUR WHITE ADIPOSE TISSUE INTO BROWN, METABOLIC- ENHANCING ADIPOSE TISSUE. 56 June/July 2016 Megan Patiry is an inquisitive food and travel writer, harboring an editorial love affair with the decadent, the mysterious, and the nutritious. She is a dedicated Paleo foodie, ancestral health devotee, certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, certified Personal Trainer, and holds a BA in English/Creative Writing. REFERENCES 1 Cell Press. “Gut microbes trigger fat loss in response to cold temperatures.” ScienceDaily. 3 Dec 2015. 2 Oullett V, Labbé SM, Blondin DP, Phoenix S, Guérin B, et al. “Brown adipose tissue oxidative metabolism contributes to energy expenditure during acute cold exposure in humans.” The Journal of Clinical Investiga- tion. 24 Jan 2014. 122.2 (2012): 545–52. doi: 10.1172/JCI60433. 3 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Exposure to cold reveals ‘switch’ that controls formation of brown, white fat.” ScienceDaily. 5 Jan 2015. es/2015/01/150105125908.htm. 4 Garvan Institute of Medical Research. “Embrace the cold: Evidence that shivering and exercise may convert white fat to brown.” ScienceDaily. 4 Feb 2014. es/2014/02/140204123619.htm. 5 Knox R. “Brown Fat: Don’t Try to Burn It.” NPR. 10 Apr 2009. php?storyId=102964807. 6 Huttunen P, Kokko L, Ylijukuri V. “Winter Swimming Improves General Well-Being.” International Journal of Circumpolar Health. 63.2 (2004): 140–4. 7 Shevchuk NA. “Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression.” Medical Hypotheses. 70.5 (2008): 995–1001. ©CANSTOCKPHOTOINC./ANDREYPOPOV/IFONG