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Does Losing Weight Make You Cold? (Answered by a Physician)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 30, 2022

People always focus on all the benefits of weight loss. And as a personal trainer, I’m certainly not going to tell you that you shouldn’t lose weight because of some occasional strange side effects like feeling colder than usual.

Since I didn’t understand why this happens exactly, I decided to do some research with a physician to get a better explanation.

It turns out that essential fat pads play a key role in maintaining your body temperature, and sudden changes in your body composition can have an impact on how you experience cold exposure.

Quick Summary

  • Weight loss is an important factor in your overall well-being, but the fat your body stores plays a critical role.
  • Evolution made sure that humans were able to release energy reserves for lean winter months and increase survival.
  • People who lose weight and encounter cold intolerance can do a few things to help reduce this effect.

Why Do You Feel Cold When You Lose Fat?

Woman with sweater feeling cold

You feel cold when you lose fat because the fat tissue provides both insulation and fat-burning fuel. With a slightly lower body temperature and less padding to keep that temperature contained, you’ll become more sensitive to feeling cold.

Let me explain.

Insulation

Fat cells keep you warm, and when you shed body fat, you literally lose insulation [1]. It’s like removing attic insulation from your home before winter and then noticing that your rooms don’t stay warm for as long as they used to.

And as you go through more consistent weight loss through a calorie restriction diet, you’ll start feeling cold more easily.

Metabolism

Fat is one of the ways that you produce body heat through your metabolism.

Every chemical reaction in nature produces heat, and it’s no different when your body has to resort to fat reserves [2].

But once you drop pounds and don’t have enough fat storage, then the body will have to get more calories from easier stores like blood glucose.

The end effect is that a significant calorie restriction to achieve a healthy weight will lower your core temperature and gradually take away natural insulation.

Here are a few ways to boost your metabolism.

Why Is Fat Important For Your Body Temperature?

Pinching someone's arm fat

Fat is important for your body temperature because, in evolutionary terms, it is a way to store and conserve energy for the winter.

And scientists believe that even a healthy human weight of 165 lbs could contain up to 100k calories in fat [3].

The reason this was important for hundreds of thousands of years is that for most of human history, food was scarce. You would find lots of it in spring, summer, and early fall.

And that was the time to fatten up to survive the winter and support basic functions. It would also help to not sense cold temperatures. Internal organs would still have a supply of energy as metabolism slows.

Over a few months of longer periods of fasting, those energy reserves were reduced, and humans lost weight.

But it hugely increased the chance of survival.

“So, while fat is often demonised, it has also been our friend through millions of years of evolution. It makes sense for our bodies to store energy in this way and to develop systems to cling on to it just in case there is a famine around the corner.”

- Dylan Thompson, Professor, and Director of Research, University of Bath.

What Can You Do To Deal With This?

Lifting a dumbbell with left arm

There are two things you can do to deal with the impact of losing weight.

What often happens is that extreme calorie restriction slows metabolic rates down too much and thereby lowering your temperature.

Adding more physical activity throughout the day by walking and moving around will keep your metabolic rate up a bit more and produce more body temperature.

You can also achieve this through a thermogenic fat burner supplement that results in a slight increase in body temperature.

The other thing to consider is whether you have dipped below essential fat levels. The human body needs a certain amount of fat to function, which is between 3% and 12% depending on height and gender [4].

Set yourself realistic body fat goals for gradual weight reduction, and don’t go below the essential fat limits.

FAQs

Why Do I Get a Cold When I Start Eating Healthy?

You can get a cold when you start eating healthy because of metabolic and gut adjustments in your body. These can result in changes to dopamine, microbes, and ketones that can make you feel like you have a cold.

Does Being Cold Make You Lose More Weight?

Yes, being cold can make you lose weight. As the ambient temperature dips, your body responds by burning off more energy to stay warm, and that can help you reduce your weight.

Stop Feeling Cold And Lose Weight

Understanding that weight loss can result in body temperature changes is an important fact to keep in mind and help you prepare for this to happen.

For most people, this is going to be a good sign, even if it feels a bit uncomfortable at first.

However, rather than eating way too few calories, I would advise you to aim for gradual weight loss and introduce a night-time fat burner supplement to help things along.

By naturally boosting how many calories you burn, you can keep your temperature up a bit while still shedding the pounds.


References:

  1. https://www.science.org/content/article/fat-cells-feel-cold-burn-calories-heat
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/where-does-body-fat-go-when-you-lose-weight/
  3. https://theconversation.com/stored-fat-is-a-feat-of-evolution-and-your-body-will-fight-to-keep-it-52468
  4. https://med.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Health_and_Fitness/Book%3A_Concepts_of_Fitness_and_Wellness_(Flynn_et_al.)/06%3A_Body_Composition/6.03%3A_How_Much_Fat_is_Needed

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