Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Effects of Cold

Cold has always been used in athletics for many purposes. It keeps down swelling, helps with pain, soreness, injury, feeling refreshed, lowering body temperature, etc. It has so many uses. Cold has another affect on our body.

It's the reason why people in cold climates are constantly eating lard, butter, milk, blubber, etc. They need to fatten up because they are constantly burning off their fat reserves to stay warm. Just how it's done with mammals in hibernation. Now imagine someone who lives in a tropical climate eating butter, lard, milk, etc, and you will get a very big person. There are two kinds of fat, brown fat and yellow/white fat. Brown fat is sometimes referred to as good fat and white fat as bad fat. There is no good and bad though if it exists in our body naturally (just like with cholesterol). When they mean it's bad, what they really mean is there is an overabundance of it.

Brown fat's main purpose is to generate body heat. White fat's purpose is to store energy for later use. We all know a fatter person will do better in the cold, the reason why is not simply insulation but also because they have more fat to burn. Brown fat (baby fat) is high in babies, and brown fat naturally goes up when the whether begins to get colder. This is true for all mammals including humans. Check obesity rates for people in cold climates compared to warm climates and you will see a similar trend.

So back to cold. Athletes eat legendary amounts of calories sometimes so much there is no way they will ever burn off all the calories they ate. Yet they stay lean. Michael Phelps is a good example. Which is also a big reason why calories consumed or burned really tells you very little about what you will look like but I will save that for another post.

Athletes use cold a lot. Phelps for example spends extended periods in cold water. Athletes often use ice baths, cold showers, cold drinks, ice packs, etc. People often use heat to lose weight. All heat will do is make you sweat and lose precious water out of your body. Cold is what will force your body to try to increase it's temperature and metabolism. Ever worked out or trained in the cold? Or even gone skiing or snowboarding and get a good sweat going? Notice how that body heat feels different than training in normal conditions or warm conditions?

In the cold, though it takes longer for your body to warm up, your body will burn brown fat to generate heat, and use stored fat as energy to maintain activity to stay warm.

With this all being said, if you try to sit in a meat locker and wait to turn thin, you may freeze to death before this happens. There is also more risk of injury training in cold temperatures. There is no one answer. Everything is a small piece of a bigger picture. You are always going to be dealing with small percentages. Each thing does a little, combine enough things together and you not only have a lifestyle change but a body change.
All Out Effort is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.