Guru Kate: Losing weight in the winter?

Could I lose weight in winter by keeping myself colder and making myself burn more calories?

 

This question is one of metabolism and core body temperature. And metabolism actually speeds up when you’re cold because it must shiver to maintain a steady core temperature, but only during short bouts of cold exposure.

So, yes, you could purposefully “forget” your coat in the wintertime to try to lose weight, but living in Alaska, we all know the consequences: hypothermia and frostbite, in the most extreme situations.

Not to mention the fact that extended periods of cold exposure, your body slips into the first stages of hypothermia – a symptom of which is decreased metabolism and therefore decreased calorie expenditure. That’s science talk for “you don’t burn calories when you’re cold for too long.”

In addition, many people don’t know that speeding up your metabolism when you’re cold for a few seconds actually impacts how food is digested. Not as many vitamins are absorbed or people can sometimes feel like they’re experiencing indigestion.

Just because human guts haven’t figured it out doesn’t mean the rest of the animal kingdom is as simple. Hummingbirds can lower their necessary core temperature at night so that their body doesn’t raise their metabolism while they’re asleep.

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Lowering core body temperature is also seen in hibernating mammals. Being able to control our body temperature (although at some points in the winter it may not seem like we have that much conrol) is a true sign of being “warm-blooded”.

For instance, look at reptiles. They’re entirely dependent on their surroundings for their temperature. If it’s too warm for them, they digest food too quickly. If it’s too cold, they can’t move to get food, let along digest it.

Temperature is a finicky thing when it comes to metabolism. Like always, everything in moderation (even moderation). Which is why I advise a mass exodus to Hawaii.