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Why Doing Your Workouts In The Cold May Help Burn More Fat

  • A new study says the best way to burn fat is by exercising in cold temperatures.
  • A peptide found in our muscles, called sarcolipin, creates more mitochondria, which burn fat. This peptide is activated by exercise and cold temperatures.
  • According to the study's co-author, you're doing yourself a disservice by staying indoors all winter long.

    You may dread the end of summer, but the drop in temperature could help you burn more fat while working out, according to one researcher.

    It's all thanks to a peptide found in our muscles called sarcolipin, or SLN, according to Muthu Periasamy, PhD, a researcher at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.

    Scientists already knew that the higher your body's SLN function, the lower your risk of obesity. They also knew that SLN was activated by exercise. Periasamy and his team delved deeper, and found that cold temperatures also activate your body's SLN. He reasons that exercising in the cold could maximize your SLN function — and in turn, maximize your fat burn.

    "You can double the amount of energy burned, so you burn more fat," Periasamy explained to

    How does this work, exactly?

    Nearly all the cells in our body contain structures called mitochondria, which burn fat and create the energy we need to go about our days. The more we exercise, the more mitochondria our bodies produce.

    Periasamy found that SLN forces our mitochondria to work harder, and in turn, burn more fat. He also found that SLN creates even more mitochondria — and the more of 'em we have, the more fat we burn. Finally, he found that cold weather activates our SLN. Put it all together, and his conclusion is that exercising in cold weather could lead to greater fat burn.

    It's worth noting that Periasamy's research involved experiments on mice, not humans. But the scientist still believes that staying shut inside all winter long could put a dent in your SLN levels.

    "The bad news is that people avoid cold. They're doing a disservice to themselves," he said.

    To boost your SLN levels, Periasamy says you should "stay outdoors." (But use your judgment, guys: Don't push yourself to stay out if you're way too cold.)

    Of course, getting out of bed for a chilly morning run doesn't sound appealing. But if you're determined, these four cold weather workout strategies could make the experience bearable.

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    Dr. Shirley

    Dr. Shirley

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