Does Your Body Burn Calories to Keep Warm? | penajeramiyokoah's Blog

An old friend of mine asked me on Facebook recently whether or not a person burned more calories in a day-to-day fashion in cold weather. The idea was that if the body was cold, then it had to work to keep itself warm, so therefore, it would burn more calories.

The answer is one of those "Yeah, but not really" kinda situations.

If the body is cold (like it would be during the cold winter months), would it need to keep itself warm? Well of course it would. Would this burn more calories than "normal" at rest? Again, of course.

That's the "yeah" part. Now for the "not really"...

Here's the thing though - when it's cold out, are you going outside in shorts and a t-shirt? Nope. You're going out in pants, a coat, hat, etc. You're adding layers of clothing to keep your body warm. Your body doesn't have to do any real work.

If you're not adding layers, then likely, you're inside someplace that's heated. Again, something external is keeping your body warm. You don't have to do it yourself.

So any calories that the body would burn in keep itself warm are thereby negated simply by turning on the heat, throwing another log on the fire, or bundling up.

But, let's say you didn't do any of that. Would you burn more calories?

Yeah, you would. But likely not enough to really make a big difference. I know that Dr. Ellington Darden (of High Intensity Training fame) is a big proponent of having his trainees drink all their water ice-cold, or even eat ice chips instead. The thought being that the body is still getting hydrated, but has to work to warm up the fluids, and therefore burns more calories.

I think this is one of those ideas that's cool in theory, but pretty not super-useful in practice. I've not actually researched it (simply b/c I never cared to), but some of the stuff I've seen online has said that doing this kinda thing would only increase your caloric expenditure (how many calories you burned) by maybe 100-200 calories/day at best.

Nothing to jump and down about.

Honestly, when you think about it, the body does a lot more work in hot weather to keep itself cool than it does in cold weather to keep itself warm. When it's cold out, you keep bundling up until you get warm. When it's hot out, you can only do so much to cool off.

To keep warm when it's cold, the body shivers. To keep cool when it's hot, the body sweats.

Speaking generally, which do you do more of - shiver or sweat? Probably sweat. Which is why people talk about "sweating off the weight" instead of "shivering off the weight" (water loss due to sweating aside).

So while you might burn a couple extra calories this winter in your daily activities trying to keep warm, don't expect to come out in the spring with a new six-pack of abs that you didn't realize you had.

Click here for cardio workouts that don't need gyms, machines, or fancy equipment. Check out for the cardio workout that doesn't make you run a single step.

This Blog Entry's Comment Board
There are no comments on this post yet, be the first to leave one!
Your Comment:

Previous Posts
You Don’t Need “Cardio” to Get Cardio Fitness, posted September 8th, 2010
Go Take a Hike!, posted September 7th, 2010
Ab Wheel Workout Progression Tip, posted September 6th, 2010
Sandbag Construction, posted September 5th, 2010
Flat Bench or Incline Bench? Who Cares!?!, posted September 5th, 2010
Losing 43 lbs *ain’t* Easy, posted September 3rd, 2010
Spend a Week in Hell, posted September 3rd, 2010
Tournament Preparation - Part 1, posted September 2nd, 2010
Taking the Burpee to the Ultimate, posted September 2nd, 2010
The Magic Workout, posted September 2nd, 2010
Why Your Cardio Workouts Need Focus, posted September 1st, 2010
Why 'Regular Joes' Should Be Doing MMA Workouts, posted September 1st, 2010
Training to SLAM Your Opponent, posted September 1st, 2010
MMA Strength-Endurance Training - Be Stronger...Longer, posted September 1st, 2010
Hardcore Conditioning - How to Outwork Your Opponent, posted September 1st, 2010
Have More Gas in Your Tank, posted August 31st, 2010
Lifting Weights to Lose Fat, posted August 31st, 2010
Don't Ever Let Life Beat You, posted August 31st, 2010
What Bulgarian Coaches Can Teach You About Your Cardio Workouts, posted August 31st, 2010
Adapt to Progress, posted August 30th, 2010
Cardio Periodization, posted August 30th, 2010
Does Your Body Burn Calories to Keep Warm?, posted August 30th, 2010
Are You a 'Strong Man'?, posted August 30th, 2010
Pull Yourself Together, posted August 30th, 2010
Staying Power, posted August 30th, 2010
Don't Screw Up Your Interval Training, posted August 27th, 2010, 1 comment
Grip and Rip, posted August 27th, 2010
1 Left and 1 Right Are Kick-*** Reps, posted August 27th, 2010
Randy Couture is a 'Complex' Fighter, posted August 27th, 2010
How To Do More Work To Increase Your Cardio, posted August 26th, 2010
Better Cardio Requires Hard Work...Even if it is Smart Work, posted August 26th, 2010
KISMIF - Keep It Simple, Make It Fun, posted August 26th, 2010
Slam Like a UFC Champ, posted August 26th, 2010
The Sean Sherk Workout Program, posted August 25th, 2010
Does the 300 Workout Work?, posted August 25th, 2010
Sean Sherk's UFC All Access Workout, posted August 25th, 2010
You Don't Have to Strain for Cardio Fitness Gains, posted August 22nd, 2010
Weight Loss and Fitness - Facts not Fiction, posted August 22nd, 2010
Learn All About Weslo Treadmills, posted August 20th, 2010
Why you do not have "killer abs" or that "6 pack" Abdominal Muscles?, posted August 19th, 2010
What Are The 3 Critical Exercise Routine Success Factors?, posted August 19th, 2010
Warming Up Properly, posted August 19th, 2010

Here are some friends' blogs...

How to Embed Photos in your Blog Embed Photos How to Embed Videos in your Blog Embed Videos