Freezing The Fat Off

Former NASA material scientist Ray Cronise believes cold temperatures can spur weight loss. Steven Leckart reports on the research:

Cronise got the idea back in 2008 while watching a TV program about Michael Phelps. The coverage claimed that, while training, the Olympic swimmer ate 12,000 calories a day. At the time, Cronise was on a diet of 12,000 calories per week. (He was carrying 209 pounds on his 5’9″ frame and wanted to get back down to 180.) Something didn’t add up. Even if Phelps had an exceptionally high metabolism and swam three hours a day, he still should have turned into a blob. Then it hit Cronise: Phelps was spending hours every day in water, which was sucking heat from his body. He was burning extra calories just to maintain his core temperature of 98.6.

That fall, Cronise grew obsessed. He avoided warmth altogether: He took cool showers, wore light clothing, slept without sheets, and took 3-mile “shiver walks” in 30-degree weather wearing a T-shirt, shorts, gloves, and earmuffs. In six weeks he shed 27 pounds, nearly tripling his weight-loss rate without changing his calorie-restricted diet.

The science is still uncertain:

Scientists are racing to separate the real science from the pseudo. They’re investigating the precise mechanisms by which the body adjusts to cold temperatures and reaching new insights into the ways our bodies burn fat. They’re even trying to come up with a new kind of weight-loss pill—a longtime ambition of the pharmaceutical industry—that can mimic those processes and make us thinner faster, with less effort.