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episode #289

Study: Can Cold Exposure Increase Metabolism?

September 25, 2023 in Podcast


This week I discuss the use of deliberate cold exposure and how it can be leveraged to improve mental and physical health.

I believe that cold exposure is a tool that can reduce inflammation, elevate mood by increasing dopamine for a few hours, and potentially increase metabolism. I touch on a study done by Dr. Susanna Soberg, where individuals did 11 minutes of cold immersion per week divided up into 2-3 minute sessions. As a result, brown fat density increased which allows for a more comfortable feeling in the cold and an increased core metabolism.

Also, by deliberately exposing yourself to cold you build resilience and grit which can aid in managing other stressors that occur within daily life. I want to stress that this is just a tool and shouldn't be the end all when it comes to improving your health. Be in a safe environment and I believe 45-60 degrees fahreinheit will help you get the positive effects mentioned.

If you have any questions please let me know. Have a great day!

Episode Resources:

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100408 https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01241.2005

Brian (1s):

Hello and welcome to the GETLEAN and Eat Clean podcast. My name is Brian Gryn. I'm a certified health coach, trainer and author, and this podcast is for middle aged men and women looking to optimize their health and get their bodies back to what it once was 10 to 15 years ago. I will give you simple, actionable items to get long term sustainable results. Thanks for listening and enjoy the show. All, right Welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. My name is Brian Gryn. I hope you had a great weekend and happy Tuesday. If you're listening to this on Tuesday, hopefully you'll listen to my interview with speaker podcast host and author of Harder Than Life, Kelly Siegel.

Brian (48s):

We discussed all about how he overcame his challenging childhood to take charge of his life. We went into his morning and evening routine, what he eats and lifts to stay fit at 47. And if you have seen this guy on Instagram or YouTube, he, he definitely is very fit. I will say he talks about working out every day. I don't necessarily think everyone has to do that, but either way, this is what he does. And, and yeah, we also got into the importance of mindfulness. We got into his book Harder Than Life and touched on much more. So if you haven't already, check out my interview with Kelly Siegel, episode 2 88.

Brian (1m 31s):

Now on today's micro podcast, I wanted to get into the use of deliberate C cold Exposure, and I'll cite a few studies that have been done. There's quite a bit of literature out there, mainly on immersion, not too much on cold showers, but I will say if you're someone that's never done cold Exposure, I think it's good to start with showers and work from there and then maybe get into like a tub or if down the line, if you wanna like myself, we actually buy a cold plunge if it works and fits into your lifestyle. But I don't think it's the end all. Again, this is a tool I think that, you know, you should be focusing on quality foods, sleep, stress management and things like that.

Brian (2m 15s):

But if you wanna sort of, I don't know, add another tool to the toolbox, I think cold Exposure is a cool one, no pun intended, but a lot of people say, well, how cold do you want that cold Exposure to be? And I think it depends on the individual. And like I said, I, you know, what's your cold tolerance? What have you done in the past? But I don't think it needs to be crazy cold. I think anywhere from like 60 degrees to 45 degrees Fahrenheit is completely fine. And obviously the colder the stimulus, the shorter amount of time that you would need to expose yourself to that cold.

Brian (2m 55s):

But either way, ice bath, cold shower, there is something called cryotherapy, which is pretty expensive and can be hard to access. So I wouldn't necessarily go that route, but either one would work baths or cold showers. I, I want to touch on some of the benefits of them. And, you know, these are things that I've found in just from my practice of doing it. you know, I've, I average probably two to three times per week for the most part, sometimes a little bit less, sometimes more. And I will say that if you are doing Resistance training, I, I would never do cold Exposure after that Resistance training.

Brian (3m 37s):

If you are doing some endurance training, then no problem at all. But I, I have done a pre-workout and that'll get you going because one of the things that I will say is energy and focus definitely are on the up. And there's been some studies done showing like, gosh, two and a half times more in increase in dopamine. So, you know, deliberate cold Exposure can significantly increase the release of epinephrine adrenaline and nore epinephrine, excuse me. So in the brain and body. And, and so these, these neural chemicals can make us feel alert and essentially co cold Exposure acute cold Exposure can increase those quite a bit.

Brian (4m 25s):

Now also, the fact, what I will find what I say, excuse me, what I find is building some resilience and grit as well, because essentially by forcing yourself to embrace the stress of cold Exposure, it's sort of this meaningful self-directed challenge. And it just, it, it, it just builds, you know, builds resilience is the best way. So it's great for training the mind in a sense that, you know, you're sort of, you're deliberately putting yourself in this situation and you're focusing on your breath. It's almost a form of meditation. You have to almost like calm yourself in the midst of this environment and you come out stronger from it.

Brian (5m 11s):

So that's a personal experience, but you know, there's been obviously write ups done on, on that regarding cold Exposure as well. And then the fact that Dr. Susanna Soberg, who's who is on Huberman Lab podcast, and she touched on, you know, there was a study done of showing 11 minutes per week of cold Exposure divided up into two to three minute intervals, two to three minute throughout the week. So you don't wanna do, you don't wanna sit in something like cold Exposure like Cold Bath for 11 minutes. If you do those in short spurts, like one to three minutes, I think that's a good sort of plan of attack.

Brian (5m 55s):

And that's what they've studied And. what they saw was this increase in the density of brown Fat. Now we both have, everybody has brown Fat, typically you have more when you're a child and you sort of lose it as you get older. and we also have what's called white Fat. White Fat is more the energy storage Fat, the sort of the blubbery Fat, if you wanna say, that's typically around the waistline for males. And, but we do have this brown Fat, it's a healthy Fat and it's like a thermogenic and it's rich in mitochondria And. what brown Fat does is it allows you to feel warm when you're in cold temperatures, and typically it's around your upper back heart, liver clavicle area.

Brian (6m 41s):

And so what they found from this study from Dr. Soberg was the fact that you sort of had this conversion of white Fat, which is an energy storage Fat to this beige brown Fat, which is a metabolic higher metabolically active Fat. And so what this can do is somewhat increase your metabolic rate, allowing you to feel more comfortable in the cold. So almost like this cold adaptation and also triggering in further and more sustained increases in Metabolism. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want, this is a tool, this is not something that you're like, oh, I'm just gonna do cold Exposure and, and suddenly just lose Fat and, and be this, you know, this specimen.

Brian (7m 25s):

But again, this is just, these are studies that have been done over time and, and the fact that you can do a little cold Exposure can help enrich your healthy Fat as opposed to the blubber Fat, which is the white Fat, which we wanna sort of obviously decrease if you can. So it also showed, Dr. Soberg showed the fact that in it, it can achieve bigger increases in your core wrestling bio meta Metabolism, which I've said already, improvements in blood lipid and even insulin management profiles. And also increase, like I said to you before, mental resilience.

Brian (8m 6s):

Obviously you wanna do this in a safe environment. And essentially most of these studies, like I said, are done from immersion. Not too much on showering, but I think cold showers is a good place to start. Also, too, it's a highly effective recovery tool and there's some, been some meta-analysis done on the fact that it can help with recovery and inflammation from like high intensity exercise or endurance training. And so, like I said to you before, I would not do cold water immersion after you do some type of strength and hypertrophy training. I would wait at least four hours. And typically what I'll do is I'll do my cold Exposure on my off days.

Brian (8m 48s):

Now, as, as far as the question is when to do it, like I said, I if, if it's on an off day, you could pretty much do it throughout the day in the morning. I wouldn't do it too close to bed. And because, you know, that could keep you up. But you know, obviously using this as a tool for recovery, for mental resilience, also for, for potentiating and activating brown Fat is, is has, is being studied and continues to be studied. Also too, what happens when you get into cold Exposure is you do what's called a SSO constrict and then your blood vessels constrict and then as you come out of it, you vasodilate.

Brian (9m 31s):

And so the blood flow will actually flow to areas that need it. And you find that now, even if you Shri, even if you have a little bit of shivering, Dr. Soberg has studied this sort of shivering effect at how it could help with metabolic increased metabolic rate as well. Obviously you don't wanna be shivering for a long time, but a little bit of shivering isn't the worst thing when you come out of this, out of these cold exposures or baths or showers or whatever it is. So definitely a tool to be used And, you know, like I said to you before, I think that it's something that you wanna sort of ease yourself into.

Brian (10m 12s):

If you're talking about going into a bath or something, 40 to 65, 40, I would say 45 to 60 degrees is a good sort of baseline to go for. I keep typically keep my cold plunger around 47 degrees. So that's all I wanted to touch on today. I'll put a link in the show notes of the soy berg study regarding the Brown Fat. And again, I appreciate you listening. If you have any questions regarding cold Exposure or anything else, feel free to email me, Brian at Brian Gryn dot com. And yeah, I look forward to talking to you on Friday with another great interview. Have a great week.

Brian (10m 54s):

Thanks for listening to the GETLEAN E Clean podcast. I understand there are millions of other Podcasts out there and you've chosen to listen to mine and I appreciate that. Check out the show notes at Brian Gryn dot com for everything that was mentioned in this episode. Feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member that's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again, and Have a great day.

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