Cold Exposure May Help You Lose Weight

Well below room temp here

Should be well below room temp here

David Mendosa found a 2016 research report suggesting that cool temperatures may help with weight management by activating our brown fat, which burns more calories. Heat generated by brown fat is derived from glucose and triglycerides. Keep in mind as you read further that a comfortable environment temperature for a clothed human is about 23°C or 73°F. Those temps don’t stress our bodies by requiring us to either generate or dissipate extra body heat.

David writes:

Researchers have discovered that when we get mildly cold, which they define as being cool without shivering, our bodies burn more calories. As a result, managing our weight can be easier.
This is the conclusion of a recent review that two researchers at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands published in the November 2016 issue of the professional journal Diabetologia. The title of their article, “Combatting type 2 diabetes by turning up the heat,” puzzled me at first.

The title confused me because the study is about turning down the heat in the room we’re in. But then our bodies compensate by turning up their internal heat production.

When our body does this, its energy expenditure increases, ratcheting up our metabolism. Being mildly cold revs up our bodies’ brown fat, which unlike white fat, burns calories instead of storing them.

It’s not quite clear how much cold exposure it takes to turn on your brown fat. From the link above:

Cold acclimation by intermittent exposure to a cool (14–17°C) [57–63°F], or cold (10°C) [50°F] environment resulted in significant increases in NST [non-shivering thermogenesis or heat production] capacity. A 10 day cold acclimation study with 6 hour exposure to 14–15°C [57–59°F] per day was enough to significantly increase NST by 65% on average. A 6 week mild cold acclimation study (daily 2 hour cold exposure at 17°C [63°F]) also resulted in an increase in NST together with a concomitant decrease in body fat mass. The latter two studies also revealed significant increases in BAT [brown adipose tissue] presence and activation. All in all, cold-induced BAT activity is significant in adults and parallels NST. The actual quantitative contributions of BAT and of other tissues (e.g. skeletal muscle) to whole-body NST are, however, not elucidated and await further studies. Furthermore, more information is needed on the duration, timing and temperatures to find out which treatments are most effective with respect to increasing NST.

Furthermore, cold exposure over the course of 10 days increased insulin sensitivity in T2 diabetics by 43%. Eight study subjects, probably in the Netherlands, were exposed to temps of 14–15°C [57–59°F] but I don’t know for how many hours a day. Increased insulin sensitivity should help keep a lid on blood sugar levels and reduce the need for diabetes drugs.

In case you’re elderly, obese, or have type 2 diabetes, be aware that the activation of brown fat by cold exposure is not as robust as in others.

On the other hand, I found evidence that higher ambient temperatures (above 23°C) [73°F] may also help with weight management, regardless of what brown fat is doing.

Science is hard.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Check out my books for more ideas on weight management.

 

Yes: You Can You Regain Muscle Mass After Age 60

She'll lose muscle fibers if she gets too sedentary as she ages

She’ll lose muscle fibers if she gets too sedentary as she ages

“Our lab and others have shown repeatedly that older muscles will grow and strengthen,” says Marcas Bamman, a professor of integrative biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In his studies, men and women in their 60s and 70s who began supervised weight training developed muscles that were as large and strong as those of your average 40-year-old.”

Source: Can You Regain Muscle Mass After Age 60? – The New York Times

Dr. Bamman says older folks (over 60?) don’t add new muscle fibers like young’uns do. But an effective exercise program will cause hypertrophy (growth) of the existing muscle fibers. “Effectiveness” probably depends on exhausting muscle groups during weigh training.

Recipe: Rosemary Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Onion

Final product without Parmesan sprinkles. That's sous vide chicken in the foreground.

Final product without Parmesan sprinkles. That’s sous vide chicken in the foreground.

At my request, my wife bought me a mess o’ Brussels sprouts, and I’ve been experimenting with recipes.

Sprouts sliced in half

Sprouts sliced in half

Ingredients this time are the sprouts, dried rosemary (i.e., not fresh although it grows where I live), salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and diced onion.

FYI, rosemary is used as an ornamental landscaping plant in southern Arizona.

To promote release of flavor, I sautéed three garlic cloves and the rosemary in EVOO.

Releasing the flavors of garlic and rosemary over medium heat for perhaps 3 minutes

Releasing the flavors of garlic and rosemary over medium heat for perhaps 3 minutes

Then I sliced the sprouts in half along their long axis, to reduce cooking time. (Cut them so the leaves stay attached to the internal stalk.) You’d have to cut them in half before you eat ’em anyway.

I dumped all ingredients into a bowel and mixed thoroughly to ensure the sprouts were coated with oil.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven. I used about 3/4 cup of diced onion.

Everything except the bowl was transferred to a cooking sheet covered with aluminum foil (easy clean-up!), which I then popped into an oven pre-heated to 425°F. I cooked for 25 minutes. At around the 10 and 17-minute marks, I pulled the concoction out of the oven and stirred/flipped the ingredients to promote even cooking and browning. Your cooking time will vary from 17 to 25 minutes depending on your preferences. If you want some browning of the sprouts, you likely need to cook longer than 17 minutes. Unless your oven runs hotter than mine.

This is my favorite roasted Brussels sprouts recipe thus far. For an extra flavor zing, sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese just before eating. In the future, I may  top the ingredients with some other type of cheese a minute before the cooking is completed. Bacon bits are another tasty option.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Not "real" Parmesan from Italy. For example, this one contains cellulose "to prevent caking."

Not “real” Parmesan from the Parma region of Italy. For example, this one contains cellulose “to prevent caking.”

 

Roasted Radishes and Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Radishes and Brussels Sprouts. Copyright Steve Parker MD

Roasted Radishes and Brussels Sprouts

A year ago I ran across online praise for roasted radishes. I’m not a big fan of radishes, perhaps because they weren’t part of Parker cuisine when I was growing up, but finally gave them a try.

Beautiful, huh?

Beautiful, huh?

This won’t be as detailed as most of my recipes because I ran out of time.

Raw Brussels Sprouts

Raw Brussels Sprouts

My basic ingredients were raw radishes and Brussels sprouts, diced onions, a bit of parsley (probably not needed), extra virgin olive oil, dried rosemary (i.e., not fresh), coarse salt, and pepper.

With the radishes, I cut off the little rootlet and green top, then cut them in half unless they were tiny radishes. Brussel sprouts take longer to cook, so I cut them in half, too. I put all the veggies  into a bowl, added just enough olive oil to coat them, sprinkled in some salt and pepper, then mixed with a spoon. Then I spread all that on a cooking sheet and popped it into an oven pre-heated to 425°F. (I covered my cooking sheet with aluminum foil to ease cleanup.)

All ingredients mixed in a bowl

All ingredients mixed in a bowl

I cooked in the oven for 17 minutes (15-20), using a turner to flip the veggies once or twice while cooking.

Ready for roasting

Ready for roasting

They were a little bland, so I topped off with Weber Roasted Garlic and Herb Seasoning. I enjoyed them and will do it again. Next time I may try coating with melted butter rather than olive oil. I felt very virtuous for eating my vegetables.

Steve Parker, M.D. 

PS: I ate half of this in one sitting. I refrigerated the rest and ate it about six hours later. It was much more flavorful. If you’re one of those people who never eats leftovers…

…reconsider.

Mediterranean Diet Lowered Blood Pressure By a Whopping 1 Point

Or more accurately, 1.1 to 1.3 mmHg over the course of six months in an Australian population. Systolic pressure, if you’re wondering. This isn’t clinically significant.

Details:

“A total of 166 men and women aged >64 y were allocated via minimization to consume either a MedDiet (n = 85) or their habitual diet (HabDiet; control: n = 81) for 6 mo. The MedDiet comprised mainly plant foods, abundant extra-virgin olive oil, and minimal red meat and processed foods. A total of 152 participants commenced the study, and 137 subjects completed the study. Home blood pressure was measured on 5 consecutive days at baseline (n = 149) and at 3 and 6 mo. Endothelial function (n = 82) was assessed by flow-meditated dilatation (FMD) at baseline and 6 mo. Dietary intake was monitored with the use of 3-d weighed food records. Data were analyzed with the use of linear mixed-effects models to determine adjusted between-group differences.Results: The MedDiet adherence score increased significantly in the MedDiet group but not in the HabDiet group (P < 0.001). The MedDiet, compared with the HabDiet, resulted in lower systolic blood pressure (P-diet × time interaction = 0.02) [mean: −1.3 mm Hg (95% CI: −2.2, −0.3 mm Hg; P = 0.008) at 3 mo and −1.1 mm Hg (95% CI: −2.0, −0.1 mm Hg; P = 0.03) at 6 mo]. At 6 mo, the percentage of FMD was higher by 1.3% (95% CI: 0.2%, 2.4%; P = 0.026) in the MedDiet group.”

Source: AJCN | Mobile

OMG I’ve Got PFP

My daughter and I at Tom’s Thumb on June 3. She got her good looks from her mom, obviously.

I posted this here a couple weeks ago:

I’ve developed over the last month some bothersome pain in my right knee. It’s not interfered much with my actual hiking, but I pay for it over the subsequent day or two. I’m starting to think this may put the kibosh on my Humphries Peak trek next month.

The pain is mostly anterior (front part of the knee) and is most noticeable after I’ve been sitting for a while with the bent knee, then get up to walk. The pain improves greatly after walking for a minute or less. It also hurts a bit when I step up on something using my right leg. If I sit with my knee straight (in full extension), it doesn’t hurt when I get up. The joint is neither unusually warm nor swollen. Ibuprofen doesn’t seem to help it. These pain characteristics seem classic for something, but I don’t know what, yet….My twice weekly hikes always include a fair amount of elevation gain. I suspect an over-use syndrome, basically a training error. I plan to take an entire week off from hiking and Bulgarian Split Squats, and taking ibuprofen 600 mg three times a day.

The view looking south from the base of Tom’s Thumb

I did some research in the literature and think I’ve got patellofemoral pain, aka PFP or PFP Syndrome. Can’t say I’d heard of it before. Sounds more like a description than a diagnosis. Like saying someone has fever.

This guy posed for my daughter

I got most of my info on PFP from UpToDate.com, but you probably don’t have access to that. You healthcare professionals, click for a 2007 article at American Family Physician. Mayo Clinic has info for muggles. So does American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

I hope she thinks of this hike when she sees Tom’s Thumb from Hwy 101

I may have some age-related osteoarthritis in both knees, but that’s not causing this pain.

My PFP was caused by over-use. Too much hiking with elevation gain and  accelerating my program too rapidly. Also, prior experience taught me that using trekking poles helped take strain off my knees, and I have not been using them.

The newest resident at the Parker Compound. He’s eight weeks old.

I took a week off from hiking while taking ibuprofen 600 mg three times a day, when I could remember it. The combo helped, probably the rest more than the NSAID. Then I did two six-mile walks on the flat without much trouble. On June 3, I hiked Tom’s Thumb trail with my trekking poles, 4 miles round trip, and only had mild discomfort. Most importantly, I learned that I get relief from icing down the knee for 30-45 minutes after I get home.

I’m disappointed I can’t climb Thompson Peak in preparation for Humphries Peak. It would probably kill my chance to summit Humphries (right now I put those odds at 50:50).

Steve Parker, M.D.

 

 

Is Drinking Tea Healthful?

Green tea isn’t always green

From P.D. Mangan’s new book “Best Supplements for Men“:

Green tea, which is commonly drunk in China and Japan, is associated with lower rates of cancer, about 30% lower in those who drank the highest amounts of green tea compared to the lowest. Deaths from cardiovascular disease were about 25% lower in the highest consumption group versus the lowest. This is of course epidemiological evidence, meaning that it can’t show whether green tea actually prevented disease, or that there’s some other connection such as that heather people drank more green tea.

Laboratory and other evidence, however, provides some good reasons to think that green tea is the real deal when it comes to sides prevention.

A recent study of the elderly in Singapore found tea consumption linked to much lower risk of neurocognitive decline in women and carriers of the “dementia gene” APOE ε4.

P.D. suggests that the health-promoting dose of tea is 3 to 5 cups a day, and black tea may be just as good as green.

Steve Parker, M.D.