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December 16, 2010

Experts Claim Cold Body Temperatures Key To Weight Loss

The secret to losing weight may center around manipulating your body temperature to increase your metabolism, a pair of experts told ABC News on Wednesday.

"The body wants to maintain a balance, a homeostasis of 98.6 degrees," author Tim Ferriss, the man who penned the best-selling book 'The 4-Hour Body,' told ABC's Sarah Netter during a December 15 interview. "If you make it cold, the body will do everything it can to get back to 98.6. And it has to burn calories to do that--heat equals calories."

The technique is known as 'thermal dieting' and according to Ferriss, people can burn up to 50 more calories simply by forcing their bodies to endure sub-freezing temperatures. Doing so forces a person's system to work harder and burn a type of fat known as brown adipose tissue (BAT) to produce heat.

Thermal dieting also has the support of former NASA scientist Ray Cronise, who used the methodology to lose 30 pounds in just six weeks, according to an earlier ABC News report.

"We can use the thermal environment to supercharge our weight loss," Cronise told Netter, adding that research showed that "in environments as mild as 60 degrees, some of these people saw metabolism rates boost by as much as 20 percent."

On October 29, ABC News Medical Reporter Courtney Hutchinson chronicled Cronise's efforts, stating that the former NASA scientist was inspired by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who he discovered consumed 12,000 calories per day. Cronise said he came to realize that the temperature of the pool Phelps swam in was the only possible explanation as to why the athlete needed so much energy.

"I treated my body like a thermostat"¦ to see if I could run up the utility bill and get the furnace, [my metabolism,] running at full blast," he said during a presentation at the TEDMED conference, according to Hutchinson. Using techniques originally studied by the military and NASA during the 1950s and 1960s, Cronise said he discovered he could lose as much as four pounds per week.

"You really think you're burning all these calories because you're sweating [when you work out], but when you're cold you burn way more calories," he added. "People usually have a problem losing the last 10 pounds on diets but it would get easier to lose that last 10 pounds with these techniques. The cool thing about this method is that the thinner you are the less insulated you are so it gets easier."

However, Dr. David Katz, director and founder of the Integrative Medicine Center and professor at Yale University, told Nettler that he had doubts about the technique, and warned that exposure to extremely cold conditions could lead to cardiovascular problems or other health issues.

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