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Shivering could help weight loss

How many ways have you tried to lose weight? I am sure they include various types of diets, exercise of all exertions, slimming pills, potions and powders. A new study has brought up an interesting, free way of losing weight.

It is based on the fact that cold water burns up exactly the type of body fat we want to get rid of. Not by drinking it, although there is some scientific evidence that drinking two litres of water a day does help burn calories. However, this effect is too slow to show results in the timescale we would want it to. (J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab., 2003).

The new research shows that when we come into contact with cold water, or ice, it sets in motion our ‘shivering system’. This activates certain fat cells to burn calories instead of storing them. According to the study by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), intense shivering for 15 minutes has the same effect on us (and our metabolism) as a vigorous one-hour workout. (Cell. Metab,. 2014).

The explanation to this interesting weight loss method lies in the metabolism of our adipose (fat) tissues. Only recently it was discovered that, apart from white fat, which makes us plump and portly, we possess a beige/brown variety of fat that can actually make us slim.

The issue is that these ‘beneficial’ brown fat cells are not naturally particularly active. So, if you can stir these brown fat cells out of their usual slumber, you will begin to shed weight by unleashing processes that neither diets nor sports can trigger.

According to the NIH researchers, the reason for this is simply that these darker fat cells contain an above-average number of mitochondria. These tiny cellular components play an important role in our metabolism. They actually process sugars and lipids derived from what we eat, extracting the vital energy they need to function.

Not without good reason then that mitochondria are called the ‘powerhouses’ of our body’s cells. It is only through them that the ‘beneficial’ fat is able to transform ingested calories into heat. They do this with three times the efficiency of any other type of body tissue.

Interestingly, this effect is especially important in newborns who are not yet able to regulate their own body-heat balance, so they cool off rather quickly.

New research shows that when we come into contact with cold water, it sets in motion our ‘shivering system’. This activates certain fat cells to burn calories instead of storing them

In babies, the beige/brown fat deposits make up about five per cent of their total body weight, while adults only have a few grams of brown fat. This is located around the neck and shoulders, and along the spine. However, it is less about the matter of fat quantity and more about how active the beige/brown fat cells are.

The NIH researchers have discovered that it is easy to promote their activity. Temperatures between 15˚C and 20˚C exert a cold irritation stimulus on the body. To maintain the normal body temperature of 37˚C, the body initiates a chain reaction that begins with multiple discharges of the hormone noradrenaline. This, in turn, activates the protein thermogenin in the beige/brown fat cells, firing up the body’s thermal power stations, which incinerate the stored fat.

Simultaneously, shivering en-sures that the muscles contract rhythmically, releasing the fat-burning hormone irisin into the blood stream.

This hormone can also transform ‘bad fat’ into ‘good fat’. This is how the body’s mass of brown fat grows and its energy turnover at cooler temperatures increases. After two months of daily ‘cold therapy’ (cold exposure), the calories burned by the participants taking part in the study more than doubled.

Here are five suggestions to kickstart your shivering system and shift your body into weight loss mode (without giving you hypothermia

• Keep a cool head – dip your face for about five seconds into cool water and repeat five times. (good for the wrinkles too).

• Suck ice cubes or wrap a bag of frozen peas in a towel and make a cold pack and place it for 30 minutes on your fat pads.

• Most people have their largest deposits of ‘good’ fat at the level of the collarbone just below the throat. Activate this ‘good’ fat by placing two cold packs (in towels) on each naked shoulder for about 30 minutes.

• The cold shock acts best when the whole body is affected. According to the study, 20 minutes in a cold water bath or shower at a maximum temperature of 15˚C will suffice. You could always go the gym and try the plunge pool.

• If you can’t manage a full immersion in cold water, shower your legs and feet for about 15 seconds with cold water, followed by a 10-second pause, and repeat 10 times. Even small, cold irritation stimuli are enough to make the body switch to shiver mode.

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