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Get Cold to Stay Warm

It's been mighty chilly in Seattle the past week. Good news #1: it’s back to mild mid-40’s this weekend. Good news #2: cold plunging consistently can make your body better able to stay warm, so you’re ready for that next cold spell. To learn the science behind that phenomenon, check out this excerpt from Huberman Lab Podcast #66, “Using Deliberate Cold Exposure for Health and Performance”, April 4, 2022, starting at 1:17:34.


Full podcast can be found here:


“What you will find if, you do deliberate cold exposure consistently, is that you will then become more comfortable at cold temperatures away from the deliberate cold exposure.  So whereas you might have previously have been the person who was always cold in the room with air conditioning, or always seeking a sweater, or always wanting to bundle up, you will be more comfortable in those cold environments.  And the reason for that is well substantiated from this study and from animal studies, whereby deliberate cold exposure converts one particular kind of fat cell—the white fat cell, which is a very low metabolic output cell.  It’s basically a storage site for energy in the body.  Fat cells.


To a different type of fat cell which is the beige fat cell, called beige because it’s actually beige or slightly brown under the microscope.  Or even to brown fat cells. Which are very dark under the microscope, and dark because they contain mitochondria and are very metabolically and thermogenically active.


In other words, white fat doesn’t burn many calories.  It’s basically a storage site.  It’s a bank account for energy.  It’s filled with lipids, and those lipids can be used if the body needs energy and if it goes into a caloric deficit.


Beige fat and brown fat acts as sort of a furnace or the sort of fat you would find in a candle, a fuel that can increase core body temperature.


So beige fat and brown fat [are] very good at raising our metabolism and helps burn white fat.


Now of course, it does that only in the context of a caloric deficit, but it can actually help create that caloric deficit.  Having more beige fat and brown fat can increase your overall core metabolism.  In other words, the number of calories that you burn a day per day, and therefore the number of calories you need to either maintain or lose weight.


“The simple translation of this is that getting into cold water for a total of 11 minutes—perhaps more, but at least 11 minutes per week—divided into 2 or 4 sessions, can increase your core metabolism, in part by increasing your beige and brown fat stores.”  

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