Some people call it simply an “Ice Bath”., while others call it “Cold Therapy”, “Cold Water Immersion”, or “Cryotherapy”. Dr Jack Kruse of the “Living an Optimized Life” blog calls his own brand of cold therapy “Cold Thermogenesis” or “CT” for short.
Everyone’s talking about it, but what’s all this cold water stuff about? Why are some people on board with everything Dr. Kruse says, while others want to do nothing but call him names? Well, Jack Kruse has a bit of unique writing style to be honest. I’m not the smartest person in the Paleo community, but I’m no dummy, so if I have a difficult time following Jack’s often disguised “drift”, I figure that other people might give up on it altogether…..and that would be a shame. After all, isn’t it beneficial for us to evaluate all of the available information out there in the Paleosphere for ourselves, to see if it fits with our lifestyle and beliefs?
What essentially IS Cold Thermogensis?
The bottom line is that Cold Thermogenesis is the process of utilizing very cold water to stimulate the production of body heat, thereby shocking the body into activating a specific type of fat called Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT), and raising metabolism.
Cold Thermogenesis is reported to increase the amount of calories the body burns at rest, and potentially reverse metabolic disorders with continued use.
Here is a great study on Cold Thermogenesis.
Has anyone else walked this path before Jack Kruse?
Yes. Russian Professor Louis Sugarman introduced ice Bathing to America in the 1890s. Later, The Coney Island Polar Bear Club was founded in 1903….of course, they mainly do it for fun!
Athletes and therapists have utilized ice baths and cold therapy for over a hundred years, but recently Tim Ferris wrote about utilizing cold showers to promote weight loss in his 2010 book, “The 4-Hour Body”. Tim apparently got a great deal of his information on cold therapy from a gentleman named Ray Cronise, who has been blogging about the benefits of what he calls “Thermogenex” since 2010.
How does Cold Thermogenesis fit into the Evolutionary Model?
Without going into too much detail, it’s obvious that before humans moved into year-round temperature controlled houses, mankind would have spent a lot of time exposed to temperatures that we would probably not find “comfortable” now. The fact that we’re able to keep our indoor environments regulated to a constant temperature level that enables us to be confortable while wearing minimal clothing has done nothing to help our metabolisms. Cold Thermogenesis is definitely very “Paleo”.
Theory to Practice
In standard blog fashion, and due to certain personal time constraints, I’m going to quote from an amazingly informative piece on CT, written by “otzi” over at the Mark’s Daily Apple Forum. He’s obviously done his homework, and he’s done the job of typing this out, so I don’t have to.
“Questions frequently asked on CT blogs:
1. What temperature and how long?
– This seems to be subject of debate, but it seems you should go for the coldest you can stand. Many report good success with ice packs on neck and belly for 30 minutes a night, others like cool baths and showers, while others will actually soak in a tub filled with ice cubes for 30-60 minutes. If you live in a cold climate, exposure to outside air below freezing for 30-60 minutes a day seems to work also.
2. Should I supplement with vitamins during CT?
– Keep your normal routine going. Some foods that are known to increase the effectiveness of CT are dark chocolate, turmeric, green tea, hot peppers, and cinnamon.
3. Do I need a ketogenic diet?
– Dr. K says yes, Ray Cronise says no. Both agree you should eat a diet free of PUFA and processed foods (SAD).
4. How will I know if it’s working?
– After 2-3 weeks, you will notice you shiver less and your body radiates heat more. Fat should start to come off effortlessly. You will not be as hungry since cold shunts hunger signals.
5. Where is the magic? Just increased calorie burn?
– The real magic behind CT is in activation of BAT (brown fat) and Uncoupling Proteins. Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermogenin
6. How do I get started?
– Start by filling a sink with ice cold water, cold tap water with ice cubes. Put your face in the water and leave as long as you can. This will activate your mammalian dive relex and prepare your body for longer exposure. Do this several times over a week or so. When this is tolerated well, begin taking cooler showers and baths. A common method is to take a hot shower, but for the last few minutes turn the temp down to as cold as you can stand. Work on increasing time spent in cold shower or bath. To speed it up, fill a tub with cool water and gradually add ice cubes (20-40lbs). This is an advanced technique. Swimming in an unheated swimming pool or lake or ocean is also a great way to get advantage of thermal loading.
So, how to implement CT.
Dr. Kruse believes CT is optimized when done while eating a totally ketogenic diet, as close to zero carb as possible. He advocates eating only protein and fat, most of this from seafood. He says this can be done seasonally, using CT and ketogenic diet from October thru April each year and eating starchy vegetables and fruits only in the spring and summer when they would normally be available.
Ray Cronise advocates eating a nutrient laden diet, high in nutrients/low in calories. Mainly from vegetable sources although he is not a vegan.
Both seem to favor CRON CRON – Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition which is Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition as opposed to eating the Standard American Diet.
In practice, anything you can do to increase your exposure to cold temperatures will increase your metabolism. This is because your body wants to maintain it’s internal temperature around 98.6 deg F. When it senses cold, it will increase the rate of cellular activity to keep the core temperature optimal for survival. Human body temperature – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Athletes, military units, and scientists have used this to increase the limits of human endurance.
Ray Cronise at Thermogenex – Fuel the Burn, says you only need to expose yourself to temps below your body temp to reap the benefits. Cool showers (60-75 deg), swimming in cool water (70-80 deg), and lowering your ambient temperature (house thermostat) to below 60 degrees are all good ways to increase CT.
Dr. Kruse advocates ice baths and extreme cold air temps like found in walk-in chillers to be better. He says you should shoot for a skin temp of 55 degrees in your CT session. If this is done, care should be taken to avoid hypothermia and frost-bite. He also advises starting by soaking your face in cold water to activate the ‘mammalian dive reflex’. Mammalian diving reflex – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
One thing that every proponent of CT seems to agree on:
BAT (brown adipose tissue), or Brown Fat is activated by CT and extremely beneficial.
From Brown fat cells make ‘spare tires’ shrink “Brown adipose tissue is different from white fat pads. It contains loads of mitochondria, miniature power stations which among other things can ‘burn’ fat. In doing this, they normally generate a voltage similar to that of a battery, which then provides energy for cellular processes. However, the mitochondria of brown fat cells have a short circuit. They go full steam ahead all the time. The energy released when the fat is broken down is released as heat.
‘This is actually what is intended,’ Professor Alexander Pfeifer from the Bonn PharmaCentre explains. ‘Brown fat acts like a natural heating system.’ For example, babies would get cold very quickly without this mechanism. Up to now, it was thought that brown fat only occurred in newborn babies and was lost with age. However, this year different groups were able to show that this is not true: even adults have a deposit of brown fat in the neck area. But with very overweight people this deposit is only moderately active or is completely absent. “
More studies: PhysOrg.com Search – brown adipose tissue” – Otzi
So, did Dr. Kruse invent CT? No, not really….but he did take the first steps to integrate the idea of CT with the Paleo Template.
Does it work?
The majority of the reports from people who are utilizing a CT protocol are very positive. Some people report losing weight at an increased rate, while also saying that they are able to tolerate cold temperatures much better than before. Several people report that their body’s natural instinct to shiver is simply switched off after utilizing CT consistently for a while.
The evidence is there, the science backs up the claims, and the protocol is very easy to follow, as long as you don’t get overly caught up in
It’s not perfect swimming weather for most of the country just yet, but this could still be the perfect time to go for dip in the pool, to stimulate some Brown Adipose Tissue, what do you think?
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Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
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