Cold Adaptation, Thermogenesis, and BAT

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RepublicJim
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Location: Republic, WA

Cold Adaptation, Thermogenesis, and BAT

Postby RepublicJim » Thu May 16, 2019 1:32 pm

In another thread I briefly mentioned my efforts regarding cold adaptation, but since it isn't directly related to training and fitness, I did not go into detail. Here's information on that topic in a little more appropriate location.
The last couple of winters I have made a deliberate and consistent effort to expose myself to increasingly cold conditions. This is partly just to harden myself to cold for SAR and/or potential survival situations in our extremely remote rural area, and partly to increase and activate my brown adipose tissue (BAT). I find the science of BAT fascinating, and like the concept of burning fat for non-shivering thermogenesis. I don't know how much the cold adaptation process has contributed to my overall fat loss, as I have no way to measure that, but it has certainly had impressive results regarding my ability to tolerate extreme conditions.
In the fall I started driving to and from work with my window rolled down and no heat or coat, even as it began to drop below freezing. I also worked out in my unheated barn, always in shorts, and usually barefoot and shirtless. By the time winter truly set in I was comfortable wearing a t-shirt in conditions where most people were wearing coats and complaining about the cold. In really extreme conditions (like the morning it was -10 Fahrenheit) I only rolled down my window a few inches and I wore thin glove liners and a stocking cap, but I made the 15-20 minute drive to work in a polo shirt and cargo pants without heat and never shivered at all. On regular winter days in the single-digits to mid-twenties I went with the window wide open and no gloves or hat. In fact, on any days below about 20 degrees I found that I had to drive with my elbows held out from my sides in order to avoid sweaty armpits, as my torso began radiating a great deal of heat within a few minutes.
After lots of extreme exposure for short durations I found that I also could manage milder conditions for much longer without discomfort. For our annual Winterfest celebration in January the temperature soared into the mid- to upper-30s for the whole day. I spent about five hours in a t-shirt, kilt, and tactical boots (no socks), slogging around in the slush and helping organize events. By the end of the day I was just starting to feel cold and shiver occasionally, but I think that was mainly due to inadequate food intake during all the activities. As long as I provide enough fuel it seems that my body is now very efficient at generating heat.
If anyone is interested in more about this topic I have made a few videos discussing it. You can view my BAT Man playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLztXQ9N4kzLOhUyVmUtwbI0CZ8NkfcKtJ
pathfighter wrote:Keep at it. People may not listen to regular madmen, but they do listen to jacked madmen.




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RepublicJim
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Re: Cold Adaptation, Thermogenesis, and BAT

Postby RepublicJim » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:16 pm

I got an early test this morning, as a cold front suddenly moved in overnight. We had been averaging temperatures in the mid- to low-20s each morning lately, but today started out at 8 degrees. My adaptation process has been going well so far this fall, so I was relatively ready for it. Although I kept my arm inside and I did wear thin glove liners for the drive, I left my front windows wide open and maintained my coat- and heat-free practice. It was a somewhat uncomfortable 15 minute commute, but not unduly so.

I do question whether I'll be ready to do this evening's workout barefoot, as our high today was 32 and the forecast low for tonight is 10. It may be a bit colder than my toes can handle at this point. Going shirtless is no problem, as my torso generates massive amounts of heat. My toes, however, don't have great circulation and get cold more easily. I'll push my limits a bit while trying to avoid doing anything stupid. There are still a couple of months before it should get really cold here. I have plenty of time to ramp up the BAT activation and adapt to extreme conditions. More updates to come...
pathfighter wrote:Keep at it. People may not listen to regular madmen, but they do listen to jacked madmen.

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Snaplight
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Re: Cold Adaptation, Thermogenesis, and BAT

Postby Snaplight » Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:58 am

Hi Jim ,

Any chance to an update to this please.

Thanks

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RepublicJim
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Re: Cold Adaptation, Thermogenesis, and BAT

Postby RepublicJim » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:28 pm

Snaplight wrote:Hi Jim ,

Any chance to an update to this please.

Thanks


Not really anything to update in the last couple of days. My toes definitely can't take much exposure below 20 degrees right now. I can manage a short time barefoot at that temperature, but then my feet become painful enough that I need to put shoes on. This morning was a little warmer than the past couple of days, and that trend is supposed to continue through next week, going back up to about average for this time of year. We probably won't have continuous extreme cold and snow until late November or early December, so hopefully I'll have more time to gradually adapt.

I'm hoping to fit in an overnight campout sometime in the next couple of weeks. If I manage to do that, I plan to see how long I currently can function effectively in freezing or near-freezing conditions in only a t-shirt and utility kilt before I need to warm up. Other than that, I'll have to update in a month or two when I have any additional information.
pathfighter wrote:Keep at it. People may not listen to regular madmen, but they do listen to jacked madmen.

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RepublicJim
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Location: Republic, WA

Re: Cold Adaptation, Thermogenesis, and BAT

Postby RepublicJim » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:51 pm

So far November here has been about average temperature-wise. Most days have topped out in the low 40s, and overnight lows have been in the 20s to slightly above freezing. It has been nice having seasonally cool conditions for a while without the sudden extremes that October threw at us. I have not had a chance to do a campout yet, as work and home repairs keep interfering. Hopefully that will happen soon. Long-range forecasts show temperatures in the teens coming again soon, which would make for a good test.

The only thing I can really report so far is that I have seen a decrease in fat on my low back over the past couple of months. That's the place where fat hangs on the longest for me, but it is slowly going away. Nothing in my diet or training has changed significantly in that time. The one thing that is different is the total amount of cold exposure I get this time of year. It's pretty amazing how that one factor can increase fat reduction. Now I plan to slightly reduce carbs and increase protein and see how that affects the process.
pathfighter wrote:Keep at it. People may not listen to regular madmen, but they do listen to jacked madmen.

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RepublicJim
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Location: Republic, WA

Re: Cold Adaptation, Thermogenesis, and BAT

Postby RepublicJim » Wed Jan 22, 2020 3:05 pm

So, I've continued my journey of adaptation during the onset of winter, getting quite comfortable with commutes in the teens and twenties. In the last couple of weeks I experienced extremes both for short-term very cold exposure and for longer-duration exposure to milder temperatures. One morning I actually made the entire drive to work with my window wide open, no heat, no coat, no gloves, at -2F (about -19C) with only minor discomfort and no shivering. Last Saturday I did another 5+ hours at our annual Winterfest, dressed in kilt and t-shirt. It was slightly colder than last year's event, topping out at about 28 degrees, with a steady light snow all day long. I never felt cold until late afternoon when enough snow had melted on me to make my cotton shirt rather wet. At that point I finally put on a coat, but remained kilted and sans hat or gloves, and was quite comfortable.

Lately I've also put extra emphasis on hardening my feet to the cold. I've stood around and/or walked in snow barefoot at temperatures below ten degrees, for several minutes at a time. I'm careful not to overdo it to the point of getting frostbite, but I have definitely pushed the limits a few times. Now my feet tolerate temperatures in the 20-30 degree range for longer without too much discomfort. In fact, at the end of our Winterfest outhouse races I did one run barefoot, about 90 yards through 6-8" deep snow, then walked back to the starting line before donning my boots. A surprising side effect of this emphasis on my feet is that I suddenly found my fingers also handle cold better now, even though I have not done anything different regarding my hands. I can only assume that my system is getting more efficient at sending the BAT-generated heat to my extremities as needed. Regardless of how it works, it's nice to be able to handle a freezing barbell and plates without pain or numbness in my fingers.
pathfighter wrote:Keep at it. People may not listen to regular madmen, but they do listen to jacked madmen.


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