If you’re like most people you’re often intrigued when you hear about a simple way to look and feel great; any way to get body fat off, right? This is why many of us resort to dieting or overdoing the exercise. This interest isn’t entirely about vanity because at the deepest level you deserve to feel confident and good about what you see in the mirror.
Unfortunately, in our society being “lean” and, having a small amount of body fat seems to be the overwhelming desire. Pick up any women’s health magazine and you’ll be sure to see pictures of unrealistic bodies that could only be photoshopped. Of course we can’t change society, but having the right reasons for losing excess fat around the waist will make success sustainable. The goal of this series on unexpected fat loss secrets that actually work is to provide you with some simple tactics that you can work into your life. While many fat loss “secrets” are too good to be true, any I share with you here will be backed by science.
This week’s fat loss secret:
This might seem like a crazy one to kick you off with; however, the science is strong. Cold exposure will not only help you speed fat loss by boosting your metabolic rate, but it will decrease inflammation in your body, strengthen your immune system, and improve leptin sensitivity. This means you’ll be more in tune with your satiety and less likely to overeat.
How does it work? There are about six or more different types of fat on your body, some that are harmful like visceral fat and others that are actually positive. Cold exposure helps you develop a type of fat called brown fat, which has its own metabolic properties. Brown fat allows you to convert energy directly into body heat. Therefore, its main job is to raise your body temperature in times of need. By implementing brief consistent bouts of cold exposure, you teach your body to develop additional brown fat and thus burn more energy. It’s worth pointing out that overweight individuals tend to have less brown fat tissue than lower BMI individuals (1).
This isn’t merely about looking good; it will also make you feel good. It’s surprising that the simple act of taking a cold shower will strengthen your immune system. In a study conducted by the Thrombosis Research Institute not only did individuals’ metabolic rate speed up, but they also showed that those who took daily cold showers increased their white blood cell counts (2). The increase in these protector cells makes you less susceptible to illnesses. Given that 40 percent of jobs these days don’t pay for time off it’s even more important that you feel your best. The fact of the matter is that no one likes being sick – so why not get ahead of it?
Now please take note: we aren’t going to ask you to just suddenly start taking freezing cold showers. Read our tips carefully because short cuts could undermine your success in using this tip.
One of the easiest way to start getting yourself exposed to the cold is by walking outside in thin layered clothing when the temperature is less than 55 degrees. By heading out the door in cold weather with only a t-shirt and shorts you’ll be sure to reap the benefits. However, this isn’t practical if you live in a warm climate and it won’t work in the warmer months. So here’s how to reap the benefits of cold exposure any time.
- Get used to cold showers: Begin with gradual exposure to cold water. Start by alternating hot and cold water. For the first couple of weeks you can get away with 30 seconds of cold at the beginning of the shower and 30 seconds cold water at the end. As you progress, keep using the sandwich approach and add 30 seconds to each bookend at a time. Changes will start occurring within the first week.
- Challenge yourself: As you progress into week three and four of cold showers, think about challenging yourself with an entire 5 minutes of a cold-only shower. You can plug this into your schedule one or two times for the week and then go back to using the sandwich approach the rest of the week. By week five or six you’ll be well adapted and able to withstand the recommended three- to five-minute cold shower daily.
- Post-workout cold showers are even better as they will enhance recovery and flush out inflammation
- The Wim Hof Method, Ouellet et al., 2011; van Marken- Lichtenbelt et al., 2009
- Thrombosis Research Institute, ME, CVS, Documentation Centre, 1994
- Tips to Burning More Fat with Cold, Ben Greenfield, September 17, 2012
DISCLAIMER: All tips provided by Skyterra are intended to share cutting edge health and fitness concepts and are not intended as medical advice. Results may vary from person to person. If you have any health issues, you should consult a physician before starting any new fitness or weight loss plan. There is limited research on the benefits of cold showers but the research that we do have is promising as cited in the article.