How Cold Is Cold Enough?

One of the questions that might be asked about this whole Thermal Loading deal is, “how cold does it need to be?’ or “How Cold Is Cold Enough?”. Do I need to submerge myself in ice water to gain the de

sired effect?

In this article from Ray Cronise’s Thermogenex blog called “Cool not cold…”, Ray discusses this very question:

“It was interesting to watch the reports Tuesday evening on ABC World News and Nightline. I know that sensation sells and people just can’t help the low hanging fruit of crazy cold. The truth is, I was rarely “cold” when losing weight, because I adapted to cooler temperatures, not cold. I wrote about Wim Hof in a previous post and he represents the extreme in human endurance: 1 hour 46 minutes packed in ice. You and I would die at this exposure in 30 minutes or so…

ThermometerFor the record, I’ve never taken an ice bath, but I am eventually going to give it a try.

Like you, I’ve never wanted to be miserable, but the issue I faced was that I didn’t like how it felt to be that overweight and I wanted to figure out a way lose the weight faster than it was coming off with diet and exercise alone. When the question is posed: do you want to be miserably cold

or exercise and eat right, of course the answer won’t be let’s go for an Arctic swim. If I told you that most of the early aviation/aerospace metabolic studies were performed at 60F (15C), it starts sounding a little less intimidating.

The beauty of this approach is that it is layered on top of proper nutrition and exercise. The concept is about boosting results with little to no extra effort – once you unlock some hidden potential we ALL have within. I think the wisdom comes in the form understanding two principles: adaptation and cumulative effect of exposure. We’ll discuss the first today.

Imagine for a moment that you decided to take that medical advice of proper nutrition and exercise. How might you start? Do you strap on some new shoes and bang out 26.2 miles? Probably not. How exciting does the idea of getting up right now and going to run an marathon sound to you? Could you do it today? Ever? Sure with proper training (Note: see page 367 Ultra-Endurance I 4HB)

The same is true for thermal loading. The idea is to ease into it. In fact, there are good peer-reviewed journal articles that tracked men confined to a room maintained at 60F. In one, It showed that their increase in metabolic rate was about 17%. This was a short term (2 day) exposure. Still another, which varied macro-nutrient ratios found almost a doubling of resting metabolic rate (RMR). This was a two week study.

Both Tim and I experimented with some extremes, certainly not the extremes of Wim Hoff or Lynne Cox.

One key bit of information is that your body is a pretty poor thermometer. You won’t guess exact temperature very well – especially when it changes rapidly. Come inside to air conditioning on a hot day – you feel cold. If you are out raking the leaves and come into a house heated to the SAME temperature, now it feels hot.

In time, you will see that adaptation will be the key to success and longer exposure times to cool temperatures are advantageous to comfort. In time, like Tim, Lynne, and Wim have demonstrated, maybe even I can adapt to ice-cold water. Until then, I’m still able to multiply my weight loss, comfortably, at competitive swimming temperatures.”

That’s a very good point about your body being a poor thermometer. So Ray is saying that no-one needs to go out there and immediately spend an hour in an ice bath. Everyone can start out “cool” and eventually work their way to “freezing”….and it probably should be that way too.

[warning]Don’t forget that this kind of exercise is not for people who have weak hearts, or severe health problems, because exposure to frigid temperatures could have deadly effects.[/warning]

I think it would be safe to say that there would be more potential benefit to the more extreme temperatures, but even a “cool” shower is going to have some benefit in the beginning.


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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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2 Responses to How Cold Is Cold Enough?

  1. Acumen Athletics April 12, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    So is there a layman’s protocol for this? Seems like putting ice packs on my neck would be a start.