Lower the thermostat to boost weight loss

  • Health
  • Sunday, 02 Feb 2014

TACKLING weight loss could be as simple – or uncomfortable – as lowering the thermostat and living in chillier conditions.

In fact, overheated homes and offices during the cold winter months could be partly responsible for our expanding waistlines, researchers say.

It’s a notion that stems from the fact that most people spend 90% of their time indoors, where the knee-jerk reaction is to pump up the thermostat as soon as the mercury dips outside, pointed out lead researcher
Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt. 

But what would happen if people were forced to regulate their own body temperatures without the miracle of indoor heating?

According to Lichtenbelt and his team, prolonged and frequent exposure to mild cold – between 15°C (59°F) and 17°C (62.6°F) – was seen to help activate brown fat in adults, the type of heat-generating fat that
burns calories instead of storing them.

The study builds on previous research out of Japan that showed a decrease in body fat when subjects were forced to endure indoor temperatures of 17°C for two hours a day over six weeks.

Furthermore, though uncomfortable at first, it seems people are able to get used to the cold over frequent, prolonged exposure, says the Dutch team.

When subjects were exposed to colder temperatures for six hours a day over 10 days, scientists found they had increased their brown fat. Participants also reported feeling more comfortable and shivered less at 15°C.

Really keen to lose those last few pounds? Lower the thermostat enough to provoke a good shiver, as a good cold-induced palpitation can increase heat burning and calorie expenditure by as much as five-fold above the resting metabolic rate. 

“...rethinking our indoor climate by allowing ambient temperatures to drift may protect both health and bank account,” concludes the study.

The research was published out of Maastricht University Medical Centre in the journal Trends in Endocrinology &
Metabolism. – AFP Relaxnews 

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