Can cold exposure help in your weight loss journey?
Being cold may appear to be a bit of a stretch, but it may play a crucial role in your weight reduction journey. In fairness, as a stand-alone method, it will not make you lose weight particularly rapidly. However, when combined with other measures including eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, decreasing stress, and getting lots of quality sleep, it is an excellent way to enhance weight reduction and improve health.
Sleep, weight loss, and cold exposure
To begin with, taking regular cold showers or immersing yourself in an ice bath can help you sleep. This is due to the fact that cold exposure, particularly when the entire body is submerged, might help you fall asleep faster and increase the quantity of deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep.
What does this have to do with losing weight? It's common knowledge that getting enough sleep is vital for general health, but did you realize it may also affect your weight? There are several reasons why a lack of sleep might induce weight gain or hinder weight reduction. For starters, a lack of sleep raises the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol levels are linked to increased hunger and desire for sugary and carbohydrate-rich meals. This is due to the fact that when we are weary, our bodies want rapid sources of energy to carry us through the day. A lack of sleep can also decrease the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin and increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin.
To make matters worse, a lack of sleep impacts the region of our brain that makes decisions. This can lead to bad eating choices, such as preferring sugary snacks over healthy alternatives. Finally, a lack of sleep increases activity in the amygdala, the emotional area of our brain. This can lead to overeating in reaction to stress or unpleasant emotions, which is exacerbated by tiredness.
Inflammation, weight loss, and cold exposure
Carrying extra weight creates inflammation in the body. Furthermore, when inflammation is prevalent, it is much more difficult to lose weight. This is due to the fact that the body is naturally structured to be more concerned with survival and restoring health than with decreasing weight. Unfortunately, inflammation can lead to insulin and leptin resistance, which can lead to even more significant weight gain. Fortunately, cold-water immersion can help you overcome both inflammation and insulin resistance.
Brown, beige, and white fat
One of the primary ways that cold showers and ice baths can aid in weight loss is by influencing the fat in our bodies. White fat is the fat that is located in your abdomen and gives you a muffin top. When we overeat food, our bodies store this fat to be used as an energy source. It is also employed as an insulator and to safeguard our important organs. That fat reserve was essential when humans lived in caves during prehistoric times because it provided us with energy when food was scarce. Unfortunately, food is seldom limited these days, but our bodies have not developed much and still retain energy in the form of fat. This is what leads us to gain weight or become fat.
Brown fat is usually prevalent in infants to help them stay warm after they emerge from their heated uterus. This is due to their inability to shiver in order to stay warm. Brown fat is found at the top of the back, in the neck, around the collarbone and spinal cord, and in the groin, and it is gradually eliminated as we get older. The brown coloration is due to the presence of hundreds of mitochondria in brown fat. Mitochondria are the small energy powerhouses found in all of our cells, but brown fat cells have a lot more of them. They provide the heat that keeps us warm by burning calories. As you are probably aware, burning calories helps us lose weight, which is why brown fat is thought to aid in weight reduction.
When we take a cold shower, ice bath, or submerge our bodies in cold water, our bodies create a hormone known as norepinephrine. Norepinephrine stimulates receptors in brown fat. They deliver a message to the mitochondria to make energy when they respond to the hormone. This generates heat, which helps the body stay warm by burning calories.
Because of our DNA, people were able to survive in freezing caves throughout the winter by using stored fat from eating plenty during the warmer months. These genes have gotten less prevalent as humans have become more toasty, warm, and comfortable. This is why we can now store fat so effortlessly. However, lifestyle changes have the potential to alter the way genes are expressed. In other words, we may boost the genes involved in brown fat activation by exposing ourselves to low temperatures on a long-term basis, exactly like our prehistoric forefathers.
Another method the cold might help us lose weight is to expose ourselves to it on a regular, long-term basis. This activates a particular gene, causing white fat cells to evolve into beige fat (also known as brown-like fat) by causing them to grow energy-producing mitochondria. Beige fat cells function similarly to brown fat cells in that they both burn calories. Furthermore, they burn down glucose and white fat cells for energy, which aids in weight reduction.
Unfortunately, the assumption that increasing brown fat might aid in weight reduction is debatable. This is due to the fact that many research studies are conducted on rats or mice, where the food they eat and the surrounding temperature are carefully regulated. Because humans are less predictable, with many other factors influencing the outcome, no research has demonstrated that brown fat activation may particularly lead to quantifiable weight reduction.
That being said, based on everything we've covered in this post, taking cold showers or ice baths on a daily basis, in addition to other established weight reduction tactics, should help you lose weight over time.
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- The human emotional brain without sleep — a prefrontal amygdala disconnect http://bit.ly/3V6FxcG
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- Cold acclimation recruits human brown fat and increases nonshivering thermogenesis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3726172/
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