Now that the concept of cold training for cold adaptation and fat loss has received scientific support, I've been thinking more about how to apply it. A number of people have been practicing cold training for a long time, using various methods, most of which haven't been scientifically validated. That doesn't mean the methods don't work (some of them probably do), but I don't know how far we can generalize individual results prior to seeing controlled studies.
The studies that were published two weeks ago used prolonged, mild cold exposure (60-63 F air) to achieve cold adaptation and fat loss (1, 2). We still don't know whether or not we would see the same outcome from short, intense cold exposure such as a cold shower or brief cold water plunge. Also, the fat loss that occurred was modest (5%), and the subjects started off lean rather than overweight. Normally, overweight people lose more fat than lean people given the same fat loss intervention, but this possibility remains untested. So the current research leaves a lot of stones unturned, some of which are directly relevant to popular cold training concepts.
In my last post on brown fat, I mentioned that we already know a lot about how brown fat activity is regulated, and I touched briefly on a few key points. As is often the case, understanding the underlying biology provides clues that may help us train more effectively. Let's see what the biology has to say.
Biology of Temperature Regulation
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