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Can Being Cold Burn Calories?

Author : Phil Tucker

When we imagine the easiest ways to burn calories many of us might envision going out for a walk, or lifting some light weights, or simply standing at our desk while working for a while. However, it turns out that one of the absolute easiest ways to burn calories in general is to simply step outside when it's cold, causing your body to shiver and your cheeks to go red. How does this work? The cause of this strangely passive calorie burn is due to a phenomenon called NEAT, which is something we all do without realizing. In today's article we're going to look into the nature of NEAT, and examine how being cold can contribute to its calorie burn.

NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, and basically means that your body will continue to burn calories throughout the day even when you're not in the gym. How is this possible? Remember, as you go through your day you'll be involved in different activities: standing, walking around, remaining upright when seated, picking things up, etc. These physical activities might be low impact and not break a sweat, but they are still a form of exercise, and contribute to your overall calorie burn.

A second form of NEAT is what your body does to maintain its systems at optimal. Your heart needs to beat, your brain needs nutrition, your body needs to stay warm. Maintaining these systems takes calories, and though the amount isn't huge, it adds up over time. Which is why allowing yourself to become cold can help increase the amount of calories you burn: your body will fight to warm itself, and in so doing burn some energy.

What are some good ways to do this? Perhaps the simplest is to drink a glass of very cold water. Your body fights to remain at 96.6 degrees, which is actually very hot; if you were to drink a glass of cold water that is at about 40 degrees, it would take about a calorie to warm each liter by about 2 degrees. Thus if you drink two liters of cold water, you will burn with zero visible effort about 60 calories a day.

Finally, stepping outside can help you burn calories due to two factors: one is that your body will begin to shiver, and shivering causes you to burn calories, while the second is that your body will expend energy warming itself up.

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Tags:   diet, fitness, health, weight loss, exercise

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Submitted : 2011-08-02    Word Count : 418    Times Viewed: 490