COLD! — It’s Shockingly Good for Your HealthDec 01, 2020 02:55PM ● By Joe Condora
A common weight loss myth is that the body inherently needs help burning fat. In reality, our bodies are already hardwired to burn excess fat; we just have to create the conditions that promote biological balance, which gives the body the chance to burn extra fat that has been stored.
Following an intelligently formulated nutrition protocol is the best way to promote weight loss. However, there are several overlooked protocols that you can add to your daily ritual that can paid in placing your body in the optimal fat burning state.
In installment number one of our three-part series, we will discuss a little-known practice known as cold thermogenesis, which can help balance hormones and allow the body to burn excess fat naturally.
If you follow athletics or pop culture, you’ve probably heard of celebrities like LeBron James and Alicia Keys trying “cryotherapy” to help with post-workout recovery or as an anti-aging strategy.
Cryotherapy treatment involves being exposed to subzero temperatures in order to activate the central nervous system and illicit a variety of beneficial biological functions. Some health benefits include decreased inflammation, cellular regeneration, and powerful (but natural) fat burning.
Let’s take a moment to dig deep into the science of how cold thermogenesis is a fat-burning tool that can easily be added to your daily ritual. Behind the scenes, cold thermogenesis (exposure to cold temperatures) acts as a hormetic stressor, as well as an epigenetic trigger, that activates several different “survivor genes”. A hormetic stressor is a desirable type of stress because it follows the law “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Below are some of the powerful fat burning effects of cold thermogenesis.
Brown Fat vs. White Fat
Just as there are good and bad dietary fats, there is good and bad fat within our own bodies. Perhaps “good fat” and “bad fat” are not the best terms to use. Instead, let’s refer to these fats as more desirable and less desirable.
White fat (white adipose tissue), which is less metabolically active, is the less desirable type of fat. Located largely in the belly, waist, and thigh regions, white fat is present in higher quantities in obese people. This is the type of fat that we generally want to burn or lose.
Brown fat (brown adipose tissue) on the other hand, which is more metabolically active, is the more desirable type of fat. Located predominantly in the upper back, collar bone, and shoulder regions of the body, brown fat has the ability to burn off the white fat. Stimulation of this more desirable fat has fat-burning effects comparable to exercise, which helps to burn calories.
Cold thermogenesis has been clinically shown to increase the body’s ability to stimulate brown fat, keeping the white fat under control in a process called mitochondrial uncoupling. Basically, your body tries to compensate for the extreme temperature shock, resulting in metabolic upregulation, which immediately kicks you into fat-burning mode.
Another benefit of cold thermogenesis is that it activates a powerful fat-burning hormone known as adiponectin. The role of adiponectin is to properly manage glucose levels as well as control fatty acid breakdown. This overlooked hormone also has a nifty way of lowering inflammation and preventing oxidative stress. In other words, adiponectin has the ability to lower blood glucose and turn you into a fat-burning machine.
How to Get the Benefits of Cold Thermogenesis
Unfortunately, most people aren’t able to afford cryotherapy on a consistent basis. The role of a good biohacker is to find a way to replicate the biological benefits of a health-enhancing technique despite being unable to utilize that exact technique for one reason or another.
Luckily, there are some useful techniques that can largely mimic the effects of cryotherapy and provide many of the same biological benefits. The easiest “hack” is to take [extremely] cold showers.
Turning the temperature as cold as it can go while aiming the shower head at the previously mentioned brown fatty areas is the best way to receive the benefits of cold thermogenesis. Sure, it takes some getting used to, but the benefits of cold thermogenesis are worth the momentary discomfort.
Here is an easy home protocol. Starts with a full shower in warm water. Then alternate the final rinse between extremely cold water aimed at chest, upper back, and shoulders for one minute followed by warm water for 30 seconds. Repeat this cycle five times before exiting the shower.
The most effective protocol is one that can be comfortable to use daily to enjoy the myriad of fat burning effects that it may offer.
While hesitation before trying a new regimen is common, there is no need to worry that a practice that includes cold showers will inhibit sexual energy. Science shows that the old adage of taking a cold shower to “calm yourself down” doesn’t hold much merit. Sure, an extremely cold shower will induce calm in the short term, but that calmness is short-lived. Research shows that after the initial shock of a cold shower, there is a small increase in testosterone along with a few other hormones that contribute to an increased sex drive.
Whether its interest in promoting fat loss, reducing inflammation, or activating some of your body’s natural healing mechanisms, the addition of a daily cold shower can help. Admittedly, it may take some getting used to. But the proven health benefits significantly outweigh the initial discomfort.
Joe Condora is a nutrition and health coach at Valley Integrative Pharmacy and host of the top-rated health and wellness podcast The Primal Example Podcast.
Valley Integrative Pharmacy is located at 75 Washington Valley Rd., Bedminster. For information call 908-658-4900 or visit ValleyPharmacyRX.com. See ad, page 3.
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