Does Turning Down Central Heating Help with Weight Loss?

A study conducted by a group of Dutch scientists claimed that exceedingly warm homes could prevent people from losing weight. It suggested that matching your room’s temperature with outdoor temperature would be beneficial for your health. Thus, lowering the central heating by at least one degree could help you drop unwanted pounds. Another positive side effect of doing this would mean lessening the household’s energy consumption.

The outcome of the study follows a decade of research into how changing temperatures influence a person’s metabolism.

Raising Body Fuel Consumption

To ensure that a body stays at normal temperature, it creates internal heat using fat as fuel when the environment is cold. The study suggested that this process covers at least 30% of the body’s energy consumption. It also said that the body can adapt to lower temperatures — excluding low temperatures that causes shivering — over time. Participants who stayed in an area two hours a day at 17°C underwent weight loss. However, these results do not apply for all age groups as the study focused mainly on young, healthy, middle-aged people.

The Science Behind the Study

Dr. Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, research team leader, said that most people spent 90 per cent of the time in an indoor environment. His team hypothesised that frequent exposure to mild cold can considerably affect the body’s energy outflow over a sustained period — and they were correct.

The cold temperature portion of the experiment showed that acclimatisation increased the amount of brown fat in the body. Unlike white fat, the body burns brown fat to regulate body temperature. High levels of brown fat could potentially help people lose weight and have favourable effects on metabolism and blood sugar tolerance.

So, if you are looking to lose weight this winter, go ahead and turn down your thermostat. You won’t only slim down; you’ll also save on your energy bill. Just make sure that you do not drop it low enough to cause shivering, as that can have harmful health effects.