Stay Warm, Weigh Less?

Do you eat more in the wintertime when it’s cold outside than you do in the summertime when it’s warmer? It would make sense in an evolutionary context if you do. More calories equals more body fat, which means your body can be more efficient at keeping yourself warm during the colder months. And with Thanksgiving and other seasonal feasts soon to follow, which easily exceed normal calorie counts by the thousands (!), most of us can expect to be sufficiently insulated this holiday season (if we so choose).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, another idea about cold weather and metabolism is no stranger to the weight loss rumor mill. That is, the colder the air temperature, the harder your body works and therefore may burn calories more efficiently.

But can colder temps really help you lose weight?

British researchers decided they wanted to find out and share their findings in a recent report on the temperature-obesity relationship in the article “Association of ambient indoor temperature with body mass index in England,” which has been accepted for publication in the journal Obesity.

The short answer? Not only do people who keep their living quarters warmer eat less, but they also crank through the calories more efficiently.

Yes, you read that correctly. Based on this study, researchers have been able to show a connection between warmer indoor temperatures and a lower body mass index (BMI).

BMI is a measurement used to categorize weight classes, from underweight to overweight, by calculating weight and height.

But can you really hope to avoid becoming a number in the obesity epidemic by increasing your indoor temps? Could be. Here’s what the researchers found:

In the study, researchers decided to test if elevated indoor temperatures, above approximately 73∘F (23∘C), what they term the “thermalneutral zone,” were related to a lower BMI. Temperatures between approximately 69∘F and 73∘F are considered “comfortable,” and going above the upper limit puts our bodies into overdrive, explains study author Michael Daly, a behavioral scientist at the University of Stirling, Scotland, UK. As a result, the body works harder and you experience less of an appetite. Elevated energy plus less food intake? You got that right—a lower BMI.

Can you expect to have significant results just by turning up your indoor temps? Probably not. But if you notice that you’re munching more this winter, it wouldn’t hurt to turn up the heat a little to save those calories for a more worthy occasion.

At the end of the day, the best prescription is always a balanced diet and regular exercise, of course. When you realize you need a little extra help reducing those stubborn pockets, don’t turn to the temperature control; turn to the experts who can help guide your way to real results.

Are you ready? We’ve got you covered at