Personal Musings

Can Cold Temps Really Help You To Lose Weight?

Burn an estimated 500-1000 calories a day. Just by wearing your clothes.

That’s the tag line that got me reading and doing tonnes of research into it’s claims. This came from a recent Indiegogo campaign called “ThinIce

It isn’t trying to get you fund something you could get from your freezer.

Instead it is a clothing line that would supposedly help you burn more calories.

Stubborn fats

As someone in his 30s, I’m facing a lot of issue trying to lose weight. It isn’t for vanity reasons. I just want to stop buying new clothes unnecessarily.

Already I had to give away pants and t-shirts that were barely worn multiple times. This have to stop.

For those who follow me on facebook, you would know I’m pretty active nowadays. I do calisthenic every alternative day, run 5 km in between days and I do my weekly street football or an 11-a-side every Sunday.

I wish I could do more but there is only so much time to squeeze exercise within work and spending quality time with 3 young kids.

So I have been reading up to find hacks I could apply to help me achieve same or more within lesser amount of time. I just bought an exercise mat and will attempt to continue the Cross Fit regime.

My diet is also a bit different now. I’ve read a lot about dieting, the Paleo and Atkins. Many of them make sense scientifically but it is so hard to implement in a food paradise like Singapore.

For me now I reduce my intake of carbohydrate. That means less rice, noodles and breads. Because these gets converted into glucose and become the stored energy in your tummy. To fill up the missing space, I take more protein instead.

I think I’m seeing results. Shirts are looser and I always need to belt up my pants.

But in the pursuit of increment improvements, I’m constantly looking at new ways to hack out a better body.

Concept of Thin Ice

So when I got this via my Indiegogo newsletter, it caught my attention.

The basis is this – your metabolism will go into turbo mode when you are in a colder temperature. Which is why people who stay in colder countries tend to eat a lot more.

Look at Mongolia. Food in Mongolia is affected by its extreme continental climate and hence the diet primarily comprises of meat, dairy products and animal fats.

The nomads that live in Mongolia sustain primarily from products that are derived from cattle, sheep, horses and yaks. The large percentage of animal fat in Mongolian diets helps the natives to withstand the cold and also work outdoors.

This product isn’t going to make you shiver like you do in your office buildings. That isn’t going to be worth it. The Thin Ice solution comes with an in-sole as well as a vest.

They are batteries and kinetic powered to drive colder temperatures to strategically placed points where they believe would induce the body to increase metabolism rate (just like you would in colder environment) but without the shiverish side effects.

Too good to be true?

I’m quite a skeptical person. More so after reading the book Bad Science recently. Bad Science is a book by Ben Goldacre, criticizing mainstream media reporting on health and science issues.

Read this book and you will view the health and beauty fads very differently.

So I didn’t to do a bit of my own research into Thin Ice’s claims. They have their own research material to back it up in the campaign but surely they would just put up the nice stuffs.

I first came across this research by Virginia Commonwealth University. They did a study to find out how cool temperature affects human fat and metabolism.

From what I can gather, humans have several types of fat. White fat stores extra energy. Too much white fat, a characteristic of obesity, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and other diseases.

Brown fat, in contrast, burns chemical energy to create heat and help maintain body temperature. Researchers have previously shown that, in response to cold, white fat cells in both animals and humans take on characteristics of brown fat cells.


PET/CT images show that a patient has more brown fat (red) after a month of cold exposure but a complete reversal after a month of warm exposure. Image by the researchers, courtesy of Diabetes.

The researchers had 5 healthy men, average age 21 years, reside for 4 months in a clinical research unit in the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The men engaged in regular activities during the day and then returned to their private room each evening.

The temperature of the room was set to 24 °C (75 °F) during the first month, 19 °C (66 °F) the second month, 24 °C again for the third month, and 27 °C (81 °F) the remaining month.

After a month of controlled environment to ensure all other aspect remain constant and not affect the results of the study, they found that participants exposed to mild cold had a 42% increase in brown fat volume and a 10% increase in fat metabolic activity.

Once they are exposed to normal temperature, everything goes back to baseline.

Increase in brown fat may lead to higher glucose metabolism. That means you burn more stored fats in colder environment.

Why the insole?

According to the folks from Thin Ice, the cold stimulation is very mild. You would feel the sensation for a few seconds and will acclimatize to it in seconds and forget about it.

Insole to cool feet

And the stimulation is interestingly conducted from an insole. Given that we spend many waking hours in shoes, it sounds like an ingenious way.

According to Natalie Dautovitch, a spokesperson for the National Sleep Foundation and a psychology professor at the University of Alabama, the skin surfaces of both our hands and feet are unique both in that they’re hairless and because they contain specialized vascular structures that help with heat loss.

Specifically, the hands and feet contain blood vessels called the arteriovenous anastomoses, which — coupled with the lack of hair on the bottoms of your feet — are perfectly designed to help dissipate body heat.

That make our hands and feet perfect to conduct heat and to do so quickly.

Make sense to me. And aesthetically better than putting a koolfever patch on your forehead to keep your temperature down.

Family with Kool Fever

Would I be getting it?

Yes for sure.  My daily calorie intake recommendation is only 1,600 (according to MyFitnessPal) because I wish to maintain my weight. 1,600 is really pathetic.

A plate of Nasi Lemak for breakfast will set you back by 802 calories, leaving very little for my lunch and dinner. With a busy lifestyle I can no longer do my 10 km runs every other day.

If this works, I can bring up my intake to 2,100 calories. If I simply maintain my current exercise and diet regime, I could potentially see results faster than I am now.

As with all crowdfunding campaign, be mindful of the risks involved.

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