What if I told you it was possible to burn fat simply by subjecting yourself to extreme cold? No additional exercise required. Do you I have your attention? No, I’m not crazy. This is the latest in weight loss, another old concept made new again. The theory is that dropping our body temperature temporarily causes the body to speed up the metabolism and burn fat in order to stay warm. It is also believed that it helps to increase the amount of brown fat, whose purpose is to burn “white” fat. This is called cryotherapy.
Athletes have been jumping into ice baths following intense workouts for decades. This is believed to help with inflammation prevention and general soreness. Some weight loss experts also swear by cryotherapy to help jump start the metabolism and burn additional calories by increasing the body’s need to warm itself. This has led to an increase in products focused on freezing your assets. One of which includes getting into a chamber and subjecting yourself to a blast of freezing air. More on that in a second.
How Does Cryotherapy Work?
You know when you get you begin to shiver? That shivering is the body’s way of trying to warm up. Shivering requires energy. Therefore the body must boost the metabolism and get that energy either from glucose in the blood or fat cells. Cryotherapy is simply an artificial way to lower the body’s temperature to induce it to shiver. That’s all. A brisk walk outdoors during a cold winter snap can accomplish the same goal. By the way, you are already familiar with cryotherapy. Remember when you twisted your ankle and you put an ice pack on it? Boom! Cryotherapy.
What Are The Benefits Of Cryotherapy?
Here’s where things get tricky. Many scientists will say this is merely a weight loss gimmick. If it really worked everyone would go around freezing themselves skinny. I don’t know about you, while I’ve known about cryotherapy for injuries until a year ago I had never heard about it for weight loss. When it’s used for weight loss it’s also referred to as cold thermogenesis. Here are the potential benefits of using cryotherapy for weight loss:
- Low impact – no exercise required
- Afterburn effect – your body may continue to burn calories at a higher rate for hours
- May increase brown fat
- Fights inflammation
- Super easy – just get cold
- Potentially helps with building muscle
- May help balance hormones and help with a good night’s sleep
- Possibly improve immune function
What Are The Drawbacks Of Cryotherapy?
I wouldn’t be responsible if I didn’t also share the potential dangers and drawbacks of freezing your fat. It doesn’t seem fair that something so easy would have a downside. Here they are:
- Expensive – depending on the therapy method it can get expensive
- Tissue damage – depending on the method, you may end up with freezer burn or worse
Where Can Someone Get Cryotherapy?
There are essentially four things you can do. You can go outside when it’s cold for about an hour or so. Don’t dress to stay warm. You want to shiver. There is the DIY approach. You buy a vest and fill it with ice packs or jump in an ice bath. I tried Cool Fat Burner cold vest. It was okay. There are others out there that might be a better fit. I am not compensated in any way for mentioning/linking them. However, their site is filled with information on why cryotherapy works. Lastly, you can visit a spa or standalone business for whole body cryotherapy or WBC. You step into the chamber and get hit with a blast of refrigerated air or liquid nitrogen that can be as cold -200 degrees or lower for about two to four minutes. Forbes has a great article about how this works. This method can cost about $70 a pop.
Lastly, there is a new liposuction procedure that uses intense cryotherapy (cryo lipo) to induce fat cell apoptosis. This is when a cell commits suicide and literally explodes. It’s non-invasive. The cold therapy is directed at the fat cells by a device from the outside. No whole body chills. The procedure goes under different brand names, but it’s all basically the same. The results are debatable. Just because the fat cells are destroyed, it doesn’t mean they will leave the body right away. And since fat cells hold toxins, it’s conceivable toxins will be released into the blood stream. The price tag can run you in the neighborhood of $1,300 per hour with a single body part taking about an hour to treat.
Ready To Give Cryotherapy A Try?
As always consult a physician first. Keep your expectations reasonable. This isn’t a magic wand. Results will take time and it doesn’t replace a healthy lifestyle. It can possibly be a great addition to your overall health and wellness regimen.
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