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science nutrition blog

science nutrition <strong>blog</strong>

By Steve Blechman


The coronavirus and pandemic have forced many gyms to close. It has caused some hardcore fitness fanatics to train in the frigid cold outside, or in their cold garages. Does training in the cold help burn more body fat?

Mounting evidence suggests that exposure to cold temperatures can enhance brown adipose tissue (BAT). BAT activation enhances thermogenesis and energy expenditure.

The body has two forms of fat – WHITE FAT and BROWN FAT. Brown fat burns calories. The more brown fat you have, the more calories you burn. The capability of harnessing one’s own brown fat for fat burning is revolutionary! The ability to get lean by producing extra brown fat and enhancing and activating existing brown fat (brown adipose tissue, BAT) represents a promising way to burn fat.

Male adults exposed to cold via a water-cooled suit for two hours per day, five days per week for four weeks increased brown fat (BAT) volume by 45 percent and resting metabolism by 182 percent – according to a study led by Denis Blondin from the University de Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Canada. The human body contains small amounts of fat that converts food energy directly into heat. White fat does the opposite – it stores energy as fat. BAT is an important heat-generating tissue in hibernating animals. It promotes non-shivering thermogenesis, which generates heat and helps animals and humans adapt to the cold. Individual differences in BAT content and activity play important roles in human obesity. Increasing brown fat activation promotes caloric expenditure and fat burning. Cold exposure may be an effective way to reduce body fat. 

Other ways to increase cold exposure is to turn down the thermostat, keep the air conditioning at high levels during the summer, try swimming in a cold pool or the ocean, wear less clothing in the winter, and take cold baths/showers. For example, after a warm shower place the shower head on your neck and shoulders and turn on the cold water directly on your shoulder blades. This will activate BAT in the scapula region of the neck and shoulder blades. The cold will activate brown fat thermogenesis and energy expenditure. It’s quite invigorating, but only recommended in healthy individuals because cold exposure can induce sympathetic nervous system activity, cause vasoconstriction, raise blood pressure in susceptible individuals, and is not recommended for those with cardiovascular disease or hypertension.

Another common approach is taking a hot sauna and a cooling bath or shower after the sauna. The sauna has been shown to release growth hormone, which enhances lipolysis and fat oxidation, while the cold exposure will enhance BAT metabolism and increase energy expenditure.

A Finnish study further confirms that the sauna can improve health, lower blood pressure and prevent stroke. It was published in the journal Neurology. Another study confirmed that the sauna can reduce the risk of high blood pressure. It was published in the American Journal of Hypertension. The study surveyed 1,621 middle-aged men over the course of 25 years with normal blood pressure.

“Regular sauna bathing is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension, and decreased cardiovascular risk associated with sauna use…” per the American Journal of Hypertension. The heat from sauna improves endothelial and vascular function by improving blood flow and circulation.

I’ve been a big fan of sauna and hot tubs for many years. Heat therapy is an exciting area of research for maintaining cardiovascular health, insulin function, muscle growth, brown fat activation and fat loss. The science supporting the health benefits of sauna is very impressive. I take a 15-to 20-minute sauna after every workout, and occasionally I enjoy a soak in the hot tub for relaxation and recovery. The sauna and hot tub increase nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator and most likely one of the mechanisms for its blood pressure-lowering effect. Nitric oxide increases brown fat. Brown fat is the “good fat.” The more brown fat that you have, the more calories that you burn!

In the wintertime, working out in the cold weather is a great way to enhance BAT and convert white fat to brown fat. Cold exposure is not practical for some people and not tolerated well, especially with people who are not healthy or have cardiovascular disease. More heart attacks have been shown to occur in northern climates during cold exposure (winter) than in southern regions where the climate is warm, as seen with the “snowbirds” who travel from the cold weather to the warm weather in Florida.

The latest extreme cold-exposure trend, “cryotherapy,” is when you are encased below the neck in a tank that is minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit. These full-body cryotherapy chambers, as they are called, are thought to promote weight loss, pain recovery, mood enhancement and relieve muscle soreness. Cryotherapy centers are opening around the country. However, there is no scientific evidence to show that cryotherapy increases brown adipose tissue (BAT), thermogenesis and weight loss. A six-month study of moderate aerobic activity combined with whole-body cryotherapy did not show changes in body mass, fat or lean body mass percentages. The experiment was performed on 45 overweight and obese men. Celebrity athletes like LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal have touted its benefits. Cryotherapy operators are called “cryo-therapists.”

Some deaths have been reported from using cryotherapy, and while the reasons aren’t clear, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) noted on June 5, 2016 in a report that while cryotherapy may be a “cool” trend, but poses risk. The FDA stated in their report that, “Given a growing interest from consumers in whole-body cryotherapy, the FDA has informally reviewed the medical literature available on this subject,” says Aron Yustein, M.D., a medical officer in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “We found very little evidence about its safety or effectiveness in treating the conditions for which it is being promoted.”

Cold is not a practical approach for increasing BAT-induced thermogenesis and weight loss for most people, and it may not be pleasant or safe! Diet, exercise and certain supplements would be a better approach than cold exposure!!

The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution is a groundbreaking scientific plan based on research involving brown fat (BAT). The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution offers its readers thermogenic and the brown fat-activating dietary supplements such as Advanced Molecular Labs (AML)’s Thermo Heat®: the original and most advanced thermogenic and brown fat activator products ever developed! Additionally, a section of this book is devoted to appropriate brown fat-activating exercise programs and food choices, plus an easy-to-follow 30-day thermogenic, fat-burning meal plan. The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution was written by Michael J. Rudolph, Ph.D, and includes a foreword by Daniel L. Friedman, MD and Eugene B Friedman, MD. You can get an e-book version of The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution in PDF format here.

The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution recommends readers follow a low-carb, anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet. Recent research has shown that inflammation inhibits the conversion of white fat into beige and brown fat! The low-carb Mediterranean diet is also best for optimal health and weight control. Followers of this scientifically developed program will find that they are able to harness the power of brown fat, maximize their energy expenditure, attain, and then maintain their ideal weight, and achieve the reduction of body fat and preservation of lean muscle they are looking for.




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  1. Coolbaugh, C.L., Damon, B.M., Bush, E.C. et al. Cold exposure induces dynamic, heterogeneous alterations in human brown adipose tissue lipid content. Sci Rep 9, 13600 (2019).


  1. Seven days of cold acclimation substantially reduces shivering intensity and increases nonshivering thermogenesis in adult humans.Kyle Gordon, Denis P. Blondin, Brian J. Friesen, Hans Christian Tingelstad, Glen P. Kenny, and François Haman. Journal of Applied Physiology 2019 126:6, 1598-1606


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  1. Saito M, Matsushita M, Yoneshiro T, Okamatsu-Ogura Y. Brown Adipose Tissue, Diet-Induced Thermogenesis, and Thermogenic Food Ingredients: From Mice to Men. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020 Apr 21;11:222. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2020.00222. PMID: 32373072; PMCID: PMC7186310.


  1. Blondin, D. P., Daoud, A., Taylor, T., Tingelstad, H. C., Bézaire, V., Richard, D., Carpentier, A. C., Taylor, A. W., Harper, M.-E., Aguer, C. and Haman, F. (2017), Four-week cold acclimation in adult humans shifts uncoupling thermogenesis from skeletal muscles to brown adipose tissue. J Physiol 595: 2099-2113. doi:10.1113/JP273395


  1. Lubkowska, A., Dudzinska, W., Bryczkowska, I., and Dolegowska, B. (2015). Body composition, lipid profile, adipokine concentration, and antioxidant capacity changes during interventions to treat overweight with exercise programme and whole-body cryostimulation. Oxid Med Cell Longev 2015:803197. doi: 10.1155/2015/803197


  1. Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC): A "Cool" Trend that Lacks Evidence, Poses Risks


  1. Peake, J. M., Roberts, L. A., Figueiredo, V. C., Egner, I., Krog, S., Aas, S. N., Suzuki, K., Markworth, J. F., Coombes, J. S., Cameron-Smith, D. and Raastad, T. (2017), The effects of cold water immersion and active recovery on inflammation and cell stress responses in human skeletal muscle after resistance exercise. J Physiol 595: 695-711. doi:10.1113/JP272881


  1. Obesity Reviews May 25, 2017 published August 1, 2017 Obesity Reviews July 14, 2017 Human brown adipose tissue as a target for obesity management; beyond cold-induced thermogenesis


  1. Obesity Reviews May 25, 2017 published August 1, 2017 Non-shivering thermogenesis as a mechanism to facilitate sustainable weight loss


  1. Obesity Reviews February 10, 2017 Factors involved in white-to-brown adipose tissue conversion and in thermogenesis: a review


  1. Sauna Bathing and Incident Hypertension: A Prospective Cohort Study Francesco Zaccardi Tanjaniina Laukkanen Peter Willeit Setor K KunutsorJussi Kauhanen Jari A Laukkanen. American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 30, Issue 11, 1 November 2017, Pages 1120-1125,