During my bike trip from Ottawa to Vancouver one of my favorite things for recuperating was to jump into a cold mountain lake on my way through the interior of British Columbia. While it was hard to get in sometimes, it paid off that day or the next day in a great feeling of suppleness.
Maybe you heard during the coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games that Michael Phelps eats 12 000 calories a day. I did.
I heard it again, but this time in Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Body. Apparently the reason swimmers are such voracious eaters is due to the fact that calories are burned far faster when one is submerged in water. The energy required to keep the body warm in enormous, cold water submersion also interacts with your physiology. It has a higher thermal load than air.
We have two types of fat, they are called white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT).
The function of WAT is for efficient storage of energy and insulation of organs. The BAT is different because it specializes in producing heat by burning fat and glucose. For the purposes of losing fat, we are interested in BAT. (Hey that rhymes!)
Taken from BAT girl to The Rescue (Part 1)
Tim Ferris suggests that one can double or triple the rate of weight loss by subjecting themselves to an intense 20 minute ice bath. Less dramatic methods include ice pack to the upper back or 10 minute showers. All just three times a week
Here are some anecdotes from that chapter of the The Four Hour Body
-Cold exposure releases fatty acids that fuels shivering
-Shivering activates GLUT-4 receptors of muscles and increases recovery rates
-Cold exposure can increase protein hormone, adiponectin, and glucose uptake from cells even long after exposure ends
-Effective treatment for depression
-Increased levels of norepinephrine account for immunostimulating effects
The founder of this method, Ray Cronise, maintains a website called Hypothermics. An amazing resource.
Update: It’s been a while since I’ve done a cold dunk in the bath, but the article inspired me to jump in the tub again with 5kg of ice. Enjoy!
Want some advice? Want to talk about training or goals? Gimme a call guy!