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Summer Countdown: Drop the Extra Weight PART 2

By Dr. Scott Rosenthal

It’s been one month since Part One of my summer weight loss countdown, and you have implemented all my recommendations. Right?? At this point, you are probably 2-3 pounds lighter, fit better into your clothing, and have more energy, clearer skin, regular bowel habits and the satisfaction of knowing that you made positive improvements to your life. You’ve been doing your intervals, eating smoothies and salads. Or… you read the last article and were filled with motivation and healthful intentions, but didn’t quite follow through.

Don’t worry! You still DESERVE better health and a thinner body. You have a second chance. Take it! Please find your last Living Well Magazine or go to to read the article again. Post it on the fridge. Consider enlisting friends to make the changes with you. Build your health and be part of a health-enthused clan!

This month’s article will provide another helpful concept for shedding unwanted pounds. Like the recommendations from the last article, the below will be easy to implement—today! Best of all, it’s something that works while you sleep or sit.

But first, I need to talk FAT. White fat is used by your body to store extra energy. It is too abundant in obese people and increases the risk of diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes. Brown fat is used as fuel to generate heat and regulate body temperature. It also helps you burn calories and rid your body of excess blood sugar.

So, how do you get more brown fat? Eating chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla? NO, sorry! Much research has yet to be done to fully understand and outline the steps for increasing brown fat. Exciting new research exists from the National Institutes of Health and indicates that sleeping in a bedroom with a cooler, but not too cool, temperature (66 degrees) increases the stores of metabolically active brown fat. According to the researcher, Dr. Francesco Celi, chair of Virginia Commonwealth University’s division of endocrinology and metabolism, “We found that even a small reduction in bedroom temperature affects metabolism.”

Despite this exciting revelation, turning down the bedroom thermostat and sleeping with only light cover may be too impractical or ineffective. The calorie-burning effects of sleeping in a cooler room can be offset by such factors as heavy blankets, thick PJs and/or another warm body next to you. Conversely, if your body temperature is too cool, the discomfort can be counterproductive to weight loss by causing you to lose a good night’s sleep. Being well rested is important to controlling the levels of stress hormones that, when elevated, stimulate fat gain and undesirable loss of calorie-consuming lean muscle mass. Although more research needs to be conducted, there is substance to the concept that lowering the bedroom temperature may prove helpful with brown fat activity and metabolism. Other research further supports lower sleeping temperatures. It has been shown that a 65 degree bedroom is conducive to good sleep by keeping your head cool at night.

What about turning down the temp when awake? In 2013, Japanese researchers found that after having a group of people sit in a 63 degree room for two hours each day for six weeks, beige fat activity increased. (Wait a minute! We also have “beige” fat? Beige fat is white fat that behaves like brown fat.) At the end of the study period, the subjects’ bodies were burning an extra 289 calories in the cold. This news can give anybody goose bumps—especially when considering that burning 3500 calories strips one pound of fat from your body.

Besides colder temperatures, exercise also encourages increases in beige fat activity (remember those intervals from the last article?). And cold is NOT comfortable! The undesirable feeling of colder temperatures is short-lived and lessens following a period of acclimation. A Dutch research team led by Dr. Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, an associate professor in the department of human biology at Maastricht University Medical Center, found that participants exposed to six hours each day at a low of 59 degrees began to feel comfortable and had a decrease in shivering by the end of 10 days.

In summary, there seems to be a definite link between how the temperature in your environment effects how you retain and burn calories. Keeping the house at a comfortable 70 degrees 24/7 and sleeping in a toasty warm cocoon may not be the best idea if slimming down is your goal. Spending sleep time and portions of awake time in the mid- to lower 60’s can be an important tool in the box for weight loss and maintenance. At the very least, the money you save on your heating bill can pay for your gym membership!

Next month’s article will contain Part 3 of this series and reveal one of the most powerful weight loss tips. Keep implementing and stay tuned!