Cold Thermogenesis for Fat Loss

Cold Thermogenesis

I was talking to a client the other day about things you can do in order to lean out and lose body fat percentage while maintaining your muscle mass. One of things I mentioned was cold thermogenesis.

What is cold thermogenesis? It is stimulating heat production by exposure to cold. There are a variety of ways one can do this, taking a cold shower, hopping in a cold lake, hanging outside on a chilly morning with barley any clothes on. Your first though may be isn’t this a fantastic way to get sick? Actually, it is an amazing way to help boost your health, lose fat and increase physical performance.

How does cold thermogenesis helps lose body fat?

We have two types of fat in our body, brown fat and white fat. We have much more white fat than brown fat on our bodies. Brown fat is good fat (that’s right we have good fat on our body!), its helps to produce heat by burning energy.[1] Some of that energy comes from stored carbohydrates but also from our white fat cells (love handles).[2] Brown fat is filled with mitochondria (energy power houses) and they are up regulated in the face of cold exposure.[3] We all have varying amounts of brown fat in our bodies. Brown-fat’s activity will not be as prominent to the same cold exposure if you’re overweight or obese than if you’re leaner, that means you will need more exposure to cold in order to get as much of an effect from your brown-fat.[4]

When our brown fat is more activated it helps to increase fat burning for energy/heat production.[5] The fat that is burned comes from our diet but also from some of our stored fat.

Want to increase your brown fat cells? Exercise! Its been shown that exercise can help to turn some white fat cells into brown fat cells![6]

It has been shown that cold thermogenesis has a beneficial effect on the production of adiponectin a key protein produced in adipose tissue.[7]  This protein helps to stimulate fat burning in muscle cells.[8]

What else does cold thermogenesis do?

Cold thermogenesis can also help to boost your immunity but stimulating immune system cells that fight infections.[9] It also helps to increase glutathione the bodies most powerful antioxidant.[10] We have all been told to bundle up or else we will get sick, if this was true then wouldn’t we get sick every time we were chilly? Getting sick in cold temperatures is actually due to drying of mucosal surfaces in the body. Mucous acts as a once of our main defences against infections.[11]

Cold thermogenesis can also help you build muscle and recovery faster from workouts. Cold thermogenesis helps to increase insulin sensitivity meaning it can help pull more nutrients into your muscles, which is essential for recovery and muscle growth.[12] It also helps to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Adiponectin is increased by cold thermogenesis, (mentioned above) it not only helps to stimulate fat burning but it also has an anti-inflammatory effect. It is inversely correlated with C-reactive protein, the primary systemic marker of tissue inflammation.[13] Having less inflammation lowers the probability of developing a variety of diseases including cardiovascular disease.

How to implement cold thermogenesis?

Here are a variety of ways you can implement cold thermogenesis in your life.

– Turn your house temperature down (plus save on those heating bills!)
– Take a cold shower everyday
– Finish your shower with a couple minutes of cold water
– Go outside in the cold for 10-20 minutes (should feel quite chilly but not dying!)
– Take a cold bath for 10-45minutes
– Dunk your face into cold water while holding your breath 10 times in a row every day

My favorite is to go outside and lie down on the grass for 10-20 minutes, getting the benefits of both cold thermogenesis and grounding. Check out my video of me doing just that!

Hope this helps you with your health journey!



1. Brown fat cells make ‘spare tires’ shrink.

2. UCP1 Ablation Induces Obesity and Abolishes Diet-Induced Thermogenesis in Mice Exempt from Thermal Stress by Living at Thermoneutrality. Helena M. Felmann, et al.

3. Cold but not sympathomimetics activates human brown adipose tissue in vivo. Aaron M. Cypess, et al.

4. Cold-Activated Brown Adipose Tissue in Healthy Mean. Van Marken Lictenbelt, et al.

5. Influence of cold exposure on plasma triglyceride clearance in humans. Vallerand AL, Jacobs I.

6. Irisin, Turning Up the Heat. Fransecs Villarroya.

7. Cold exposure increase adiponectin levels in men. Pascal Imbeault, et al.

8. Adiponectin increases fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle cells by sequential activation of AMP-activated protein kinase, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha. Yoon MJ, et al.

9.Immune changes in humans during cold exposure: effects of prior heating and exercise. I.K.M Brenner, et al.

10. Uric acid and glutathione levels during short-term whole body cold exposure. Siems WG, et al.

11. Cold temperature and low humidity are associated with increase occurrence of respiratory tract infections. Tiina M. Makinen, et al.

12. LIFE the Epic Story of our Mitochondria. Lee Know (2014)

13. Adiponectin and lipid metabolism in skeletal muscle. Bonggi Lee, Jianhua Shao.

Photo credit: Aaron Burden