Does Exercise in the Cold Burn More Calories?


Undoubtedly, you’ve heard of Michael Phelps. The swimmer has won more Olympic medals than anyone in history, taking home 28 medals. What you might not know about this celebrated athlete is the fact that he often eats as many as 12,000 calories per day when training.

What? That guy looks shredded. Can he really be eating thousands of calories a day and staying in great shape? It sounds impossible to burn off this many calories per day, even when keeping a rigorous training schedule preparing for the Olympics. This resulted in Ben Greenfield, a curious fitness trainer, to start taking a closer look at Phelps’ workout routine.

Phelps’ Calorie-Burning Secret

The secret – all those hours swimming in the pool. Your body burns calories through regular maintenance of bodily functions, as well as via physical exertion. This means that your body burns calories to keep you warm.

Since water is 24 times more thermally conductive than the air is, this is the reason Phelps was burning all those calories while training. He could have never eaten so much if his 3-4 hour workouts were done in the gym or on a treadmill. However, exercising in the water made his body work harder to keep his core body temperature stable, boosting the calorie burn.

The cold makes our body burn off calories to stay warm instead of storing calories for fat, and this is especially seen in your brown fat tissue. Brown fat, when it’s activated by cold, burns off additional fat.

Maximizing Calorie Burn in the Cold

Sure, you don’t want to spend hours taking a cold shower or jumping into a frozen creek or lake this winter. However, you can use a few simple tricks to take advantage of this trick. When it’s cold outside, exercise outdoors when you can. Take a quick walk in the cold to boost calorie burn. If possible, take your workout to the pool and do a few laps. 

Combining this trick with a good weight loss program from the Metabolic Research Center can boost your results. You’ll be able to give your body a nice kick start to reaching your weight loss goals.


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