MetabolcWinterThe last year left enormous personal progress.  It’s been a difficult year in terms of time, but scientifically rewarding. There are many reasons people launch blogs. Some need attention. Others need authority. Then there are others that are bored.  Probably the most common are those that just want to make a contribution in an area that find passionate.  Health, fitness, and cooking are among the top blogs and there are many, often conflicting, opinions on the subject.  While people might “agree to disagree,” there are many opinions that are just wrong.

This blog really started, because Tim Ferriss insisted I put “something” up before our 4 Hour Body Nightline segment aired in late 2010.  I had no idea what direction my research would take at that point and certainly no idea how this blog would unfold. But make no mistake, I’ve had wrong ideas about the world

I’ve unintentionally held these wrong ideas throughout my science career.  Sometime it’s due to lack of data, the inability to see the picture clearly, which causes one to make a (wrong) educated best-guess.  Many times it’s simply a key element of information that is missing or present that skews opinion one side or the other of “correct.” More often than I care to admit, it’s because I blindly accepted something I read (ironically, just like you and this blog) and either didn’t care to verify what was said or I simply didn’t have the requisite background to see through the “trickery.”  Sometimes we are fooled, not merely by another author’s ignorance, but intentionally.

That’s not the spirit of science. The goal is to learn and of course we only learn when we are wrong about an idea. Simply repeating what we know isn’t learning – our view about the world must change to learn and hence those that haven’t given this any careful consideration might say, “these scientists, they are always conflicting, this week one thing, next week something else.”

Exactly. That is THE point. When our ideas conflict with what is observed in the universe, it’s not the universe that needs to be fixed.

The Emotion of Science

Recently a major milestone occurred with the collection of evidence that supports cosmic inflation theory.  A moment that’s repeated throughout time – a scientist’s ideas verified – was captured in this incredible video as Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Kuo surprises Dr. Linde at his home:

Did you get that?

“I always live with this feeling, what if I’m tricked? What if I believe into this just because it is beautiful…”

If you aren’t in science, this video portrays an emotion you might not be aware exists. Not to imply scientists are objective robots or blind to emotional trickery, but that what must be overcome is the human urge to find that beauty or pattern.  Before we push send, publish, or make the call, all good scientists have that queasy feeling and few put it into such eloquent and simple words as Dr Linde has here. That’s a different kind of beauty and it happened quite automatically in this extemporaneous interview.

Trying to chip away and find a nugget a truth in a noisy world is what drives many and while information is more plentiful than ever, blogs have unintentionally added  even more noise and created extra layers of difficulty. Who do we believe?

What if I’m Tricked

Two weeks ago one of several journal articles I’ve been working on was accepted. It’s finished peer review and I will update when it it publishes. Later in this blog you can help by donating to the Open Access Fee for the journal.   When I began my journey 5 years ago, I wasn’t doing a science project or an N = 1 trial. The goal wasn’t why I lose weight it was to simply lose it.  Soon thereafter, I was confronted with health issues that didn’t go away with the weight loss as surmised and that started me on yet another, parallel journey.

When Tim Ferriss asked if he could tell my story, I consented having no idea the magnitude of that agreement.  I had data only because that’s what I do by habit, not because I was trying to “prove” something.  As soon as one makes a claim that is unconventional, the “truth” police come out and one finds their ideas attacked. Much of it was nonsense that didn’t really deserve the rebuttal, but there was some honest criticism that was certainly welcome.

It necessitated digging in even further to demonstrate an idea I thought to be a simplistic and self-evident truth. Is it “out there” to suggest that it take more energy to maintain constant body temperature in a cooler environment?  I think most people reacted to this innate phobia of cold and it didn’t help that some wanted to summarize it as the “ice cube diet.” Either way, I needed good data – what if I’m tricked? In looking at the overall thermodynamics, mild cold stress was certainly important, but the thermodynamics of food was absolutely key.

There are a lot of smart people being “tricked.”  Thermodynamics is relatively sound and accountable – if one establishes the boundary conditions. My confidence was not born out of hubris, but because I had some of the greatest minds on my team. Richard Feynman said it best,

There is a fact, or if you wish, a law, governing natural phenomena that are known to date. There is no known exception to this law; it is exact, so far we know The law is called conservation of energy; it states that there is a certain quantity, which we call energy, that does not change in manifold changes which nature undergoes. That is a most abstract idea, because it is a mathematical principle; it says that there is a numerical quantity, which does not change when something happens. It is not a description of a mechanism, or anything concrete; it is just a strange fact that we can calculate some number, and when we finish watching nature go through her tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same.”

Our problem is understanding “nature and her tricks.” When our ideas don’t conform to the universe, it’s our ideas that need reformed. Some might make the absurd claim that obesity is proof that the conservation of energy is wrong. I’m betting the error happens when we “calculate some number.”

Fast forward to the review article that is about to publish. In it, we make an argument for a metabolic winter hypothesis. My collaborators are two esteemed researchers.  I am not saying this for an empty “appeal to authority argument” (attack logic flaws when one doesn’t have their own data is the vogue approach taken on many blogs these days), but out of genuine respect for both of them.

Dr. Andrew Bremer was at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital serving as a pediatric endocrinologist and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School when we met.  Last November, he was tapped by the National Institutes of Health to become the Director for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Treatment Research and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Medical Officer.  Many of you know his work already if not by name, as he’s a co-author and first author on many of the fructose/endocrinology  articles by Robert Lustig.  He’s a PhD/MD and his publication record is phenomenal.

When I began describing some alternate explanations for the etiology of metabolic syndrome and obesity, he listened and ultimately it changed his perspective. He too, is not beyond being “tricked.”  He’s also an incredible mentor and researcher and I’ve learned so much from him in the process.  He was able to put aside things he was taught in medical and graduate school to explore new ideas. We now have a lifetime of future work to do after securing funding. When we originally met during one of my children’s office visits, I had no idea who he was and he asked me if I’d mind reading a paper he’d recently published.  Later that evening I was shocked to read it and a week later got the nerve to ask him about potential collaboration on my project.

My second co-author, Dr. David Sinclair, is at Department of Genetics Harvard Medical School and Department of Pharmacology School of Medical Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Australia.  He’s one of the world authorities on longevity, in fact voted Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People a few weeks ago.  He’s probably one of the people most responsible for the last few years of my exhaustive research. He is also an incredibly well-published author and most recently his paper in Dec 2013 Cell on NAD/HIF-1α has taken another critical step towards untangling the web of aging.

Like Andrew Bremer, I had no idea who David Sinclair was when standing in line the first day of TEDMED 2009.  He overheard me talking to another person in line and joined in the conversation.  He was very certain that mild cold stress had more application than just weight loss and really encouraged me to think very differently about the problem. Later, when he got up on the TEDMED stage  for his talk, I was shocked by just how much of an authority on the subject he was.  The entire TEDMED experience granted me the opportunity to brainstorm with top scientists – people I certainly would have never had access to without this event.

We continued our conversations and even picked them up the years following and he kept encouraging me to push.  There was, and still is, so much I don’t know about longevity, but he’s on top of it and it is a huge advantage to have someone like this on a collaborative team.

Together, we were able to create a fantastic multi-disciplinary team to tackle this first review and others are in preparation. Unfortunately I was drinking from a firehose and it took many hours to digest the several thousand papers, couple hundred textbooks, and do my own self experiments in the lab. These guys are way ahead of me and still are on so many facets of our research.   The blog wasn’t the top priority. I apologize for the absence, but it’s important to have an influence on the other publication machine that pushes all ideas forward as well.

Confidence in Nonsense

So this brings up the question we need to all ask ourselves about the things we repeat every day.

How do I know?

I ask myself this question all the time. Who did it come from and how do they know? Science investigation and curiosity has permeated my entire adult life and I think that begins with the natural curiosity of all children. I guess I just didn’t grow up. I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the most innovative, bright minds in the world. It’s help me to develop an arsenal of tools and disruptively innovate in many different industries. Attending various scientific gatherings allows me to work with others that disrupt and that moves everything forward. It also keeps me honest, people are quick to point out when I’m being tricked.

Konrad Dannenberg (original German Rocket Scientist) talks with Burt Rutan the morning after the successful SpaceShipOne first launch. I took Konrad to the launch that year. My all time favorite picture of two heros.

Konrad Dannenberg (original German Rocket Scientist) talks with Burt Rutan the morning after the successful SpaceShipOne first launch. I took Konrad to the launch that year. My all time favorite picture of two heros.

One of my mentors in creativity, Aerospace Maverick Burt Rutan, says, “you have to have confidence in nonsense If you want to innovate.” Rutan is arguably one of the most innovative aeronautical engineers of the past 50 years. Rutan adds, “an innovation is by definition something that half of the people think is impossible, and half say, well, maybe it can be done.”

Rutan knows innovation—he was the first to fly around the world nonstop without refueling. He was first to launch a privately funded spaceship, winning the $10 million Ansari X Prize. He joined forces with billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson to build the first private suborbital spaceship for Virgin Galactic’s launch into space tourism. His very success in all these projects was a result of breaking all the rules and letting his goals define his approach. How else does one come up with an airplane design as unconventional as the Boomerang.

Aviation has certainly advanced over the years. Let’s focus our attention on the year 1894. Two significant, separate innovative events occurred – 120 years ago.  Karl Benz introduced the Velo, becoming the first production automobile and that very same year Wilbur Olin Atwater published the USDA’s first Bulletin on the Nutritive Value of Food.

What has happened in the intervening Century in Food Science versus Transportation? On the transpiration front we blew past trains, automobiles, airplanes, sound barrier and spaceships! Space is on the verge of privatization – companies I co-founded in the 90s have flow over 10,000 people in weightlessness ( and 7 people to Space Station (Space Adventures); one flew twice! Humankind has walked on the moon and sent probes to other planets and even out of our solar system! We’ve made huge progress on the shoulders of visionary, disruptive innovators. Today, the entire U.S. access to space rests on the work of PayPal founder, Elon Musk, and his company Space-X.

Now consider how much progress have we made in nutritional health as it relates to food science since the 1894 with introduction first USDA nutritional guidelines? Not very much. Our nutritionally driven chronic diseases have become MUCH worse.  Having now researched metabolism and nutrition reaching all the way back to Hippocrates (460-377 BC), I can certainly say that any one of the 19th century great nutrition researchers, Atwater, Rubner, von Voit, etc… would readily recognize and not be too terribly surprised by a modern day diet book. We are still obsessed with juggling mythical ratio of “proteins, carbohydrates, and fats” something I would argue is a somewhat irrelevant and certainly a dated way to look at food. We simply heap lots of multi-syllable organic chemistry, endocrinology, and molecular biology words onto these antiquated and overly simplistic organization of foods. It’s like strapping explosives onto a Velo with the idea that will take us to Mars.

What do you think Mr. Benz reaction would be sitting in a Mercedes SLS AMG GT as compared to a Benz Velo?  I’m certain that Lavoisier would be impressed with the simplicity of running a calorimetry experiment in my lab – vous appuyez sur le bouton?  Mais, c’est incroyable! But the data we collected would not differ significantly from what he knew to be true as I describe in Muscling Your Metabolism (part 1). How do I know? because I repeated it and generated numbers that were very close.

I am not suggesting we’ve made no progress in molecular biology, genetics, or physiology, but our ability to treat chronic disease through nutrition or public information about food is an utter failure.  The average walking around advice for diet and exercise is broken and most diet books are written by people that couldn’t possibly have measured many metabolisms.   Most importantly our relationship with food is broken. Nutritionism is broken.  Worse yet are the industry authorities and blogs that repeat unsubstantiated “facts” over and over again – insanity through inundation. I was guilty of the same thing not too long ago, but for the last 4 years, I haven’t taken anything at face value.

A Good Skeptic

In areas of food and metabolism we are inundated by an inordinate amount of untested hypotheses and anecdotal evidence. To be sure, the diet and fitness industry is loaded with R&D (rip off and duplicate), but where are the people with what Rutan calls “confidence in nonsense?” Does anyone else notice the sheer-volume of myths and urban legend that permeate every level of our daily discussion of food and nutrition?

I am not alone in this opinion.

In the January 31, 2013 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine article, Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity, the authors had this to say:

Why do we think or claim we know things that we actually do not know? Numerous cognitive biases lead to an unintentional retention of erroneous beliefs. When media coverage about obesity is extensive, many people appear to believe some myths (e.g., rapid weight loss facilitates weight regain) simply because of repeated exposure to the claims.

Cognitive dissonance may prevent us from abandoning ideas that are important to us, despite contradictory evidence (e.g., the idea that breast-feeding prevents obesity in children). Similarly, confirmation bias may prevent us from seeking data that might refute propositions we have already intuitively accepted as true because they seem obvious (e.g., the value of realistic weight loss goals). Moreover, we may be swayed by persuasive yet fallacious arguments (Whately provides a classic catalogue) unless we are prepared to identify them as spurious.

Wilbur Atwater's notebooks from the late 19th century and my Moleskine as I poured through archives of his  work.  Incredible to look through them knowing how the story ends.

Wilbur Atwater’s notebooks from the late 19th century and my Moleskine as I poured through archives of his work. Incredible to look through them knowing how the story ends.

This pretty much sums up my existence and excitement over the last 5 years. It is amazing to be able to walk out of my kitchen and into a lab to test dogma, spend days reading historic old textbooks, and visit locations where past and present ideas about our bodies and nutrition were born.

I decided not to take anyone’s opinion for granted and invested in my own laboratory. I have what you might call a scientist’s mid life crisis indirect calorimeter instead of a sports car. It’s allowed me to carryout experiments in an attempt to separate fact from fiction. We all need to be a little more skeptical, but at the end of the day the truth is in what is demonstrable and repeatable.

Much like the words protein, carbohydrate and fat, metabolism is another word that’s bandied around and in some sense has become meaningless. Do we all have slow metabolism? Does muscle burn more than fat and by how much? What happens to our metabolism if we skip meals? I have tried to answer some of these questions in previous posts and more informations is coming.  It’s my hope to help people see through the inundated insanity.

An Incredible Opportunity

I think many people overlook one of the best points in The 4 Hour Body. You can dismiss the individual ideas, or even dismiss the author, but there is one part about the book that rarely get’s highlighted and can’t be dismissed, the Appendix. So many love to read “freeze your ass off” sensationalism into the chapter on my work or imagine themselves as the modern day version of Woody Allen’s Ograsmatron, but I say dig in on pages 484-510 if you want to see what motivates me on a daily basis. That is the meat  of the book (cruciferous vegetables didn’t have the same ring) and that is why I agreed to allow my work to be featured. Tim does understand the world of self-experimentation.

It doesn’t matter if he is right or wrong about any of the chapters as long as he’s pushing the envelope, measuring, and aggregating data. I think his “confidence in nonsense” is a good contrast to a century of metabolic stagnation. If you want to see a glimpse at just how powerful this idea self experimentation can be, watch this TEDMED presentation by Jamie Heywood:

We are sitting on an unprecedented opportunity – the aggregation of N of 1 data that eclipses the expensive and slow clinical trials that now dominate science. These are necessary and will still go on, but I can’t imagine there’s much “confidence in nonsense” taking place in most funded proposals today. Conservative claims and reach has become the mainstay of academia.  Science isn’t halted and we still have plenty of risk takers, but the preponderance of funding is placed on incremental progress.  You have the opportunity to collect data – technology has never been more accessible. We have the opportunity to ferret out what’s right and wrong, and avoid focus on who.

Let’s all be more skeptical and open minded. They aren’t mutually exclusive efforts.

Copies of  Our Paper

One final request.  The open access fee for the journal, allowing anyone to download it without charge, is $3200.  I know many of you contribute monthly to the blog and I very much appreciate it. I am asking that you make a one time donation to help me defer that cost of 0pen access publication. Most don’t donate, so this is one of those few times I’ll ask you to think bigger.

If the fancy button doesn’t work, try this old-fashion hyperlink.

I will make sure to update everyone when it is available for download and if I can raise the Open Access fees, everyone will be able to access it.  This is just the foundation and I have conducted a lot of experiments in my lab that aren’t directly publishable, but give us a good idea of what to look at in future clinical trials and proposals.

After this series of review articles has made it through the peer review process, I’ll likely publish the book I’ve been researching for a couple of years. The notes and references are all in place as is the table of context and many chapters.   In the summer I will be announcing a crowd-sourced fund for another set of self-experiments I intend to do in late August and will need to raise money to cover the extensive cost of lab work and extended travel time  in the NYC/Boston area near my science collaborators.  This is all directly related to surprising things I learned last summer in my own lab.  I’m sorry again about the delay in sharing results, but so many things get duplicated (unattributed) these days that I really need to get the publications in first and that process is unfortunately slow.

I hope everyone understands.

I have the outline for another summary blog that goes over the many related publications that have come out in the last couple of months that support The Metabolic Winter Hypothesis and will put it up when the paper is released.

As always, thanks for your support, ideas, questions and participation.




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43 Responses to The Metabolic Winter Hypothesis

  1. damien logan says:

    might be just me here but that donate button at the bottom of article isnt working. i’ve tried it in 2 browsers

  2. neal johnson says:

    Ray I think this article is one that gets us to think about all kinds of things. Pushing the envelope and innovating is the only way we will get out of this death spiral as I like to call it. I have been around long enough to see some old “health claims” ( some that I held as well) , now debunked. I ask myself why I even believed it in the first place. I also have seem some old stuff still spinning around blogs and even in some “research” articles.
    Invincible ignorance I like to call it. I’m impressed with the idea of ” if it isn’t broken, then break it” as Colin Powell said.
    It’s the only way we can make progress. I see others have been purporting the idea of cold stress as their own in some other blogs as well. But they have no idea how it works!
    Thank you for constantly pushing and asking the question ” why ” each time! As a scientist myself I am a natural skeptic! So I totally get the mindset for the self experimentation and the formulation of the hypotheses!
    I look forward to being a part of what I’m sure will turn out to turn what we currently assert as dogma on it’s head!

    Good stuff as always!!


  3. James Duffy says:

    I always anticipate more knowledge from you Ray. Great information, and so true about science.

    I must say, I hate how every post you say, “more is coming soon.” I want to know more like yesterday! Looking forward to seeing the paper though, and glad I could modestly contribute to it being made public.

    Keep the great info coming, I hope you shatter many of these myths in health & nutrition!

    • admin says:

      Yes. Criticism accepted. I really had no idea how this was going to roll and there are things I felt confident about in 2011, that I still haven’t blogged about. Some of it was to try to keep the bar high – confirming these ideas can often grow in complexity. Some of it has to do with trying to not put the cart before the horse.

      I have helped a huge number of people privately and in the last 6 months, I have worked directly with a handful of clients. I’m not trying to sound altruistic, but my curiosity was more motivating than dollars. Running out of quarters isn’t a sane option either, so I want to increasingly fund my work here.

      I don’t have a huge drive for the business behind books, but it seems increasingly that a book would be the correct platform to put this all in one spot. The research is completed, the papers are in progress, and 10s of thousands of words are down.

      I believe there is a story to be told and it’s really not as complicated as everyone is making it out to be.

      Thanks for the patience and the contribution! it ALL counts!


  4. Brian Beaven says:

    Great to get an update on your progress. Keep up the good work.

  5. Vicki Wagner says:

    Thanks for all you do Ray! I was also tricked and I am kicking myself for it! But through you I have learned so much and cannot thank you enough. Finally there is someone we can trust to get the truth out there.

  6. Cody Fyler says:

    I’ve donated. I’m really looking forward to reading about everything you’ve learned Ray!

  7. Carlos Welch says:


    Keep choppin wood.

  8. Andy Galovic says:

    Great work Ray, always an interesting, thought provoking read!
    Anyway to donate besides paypal? Cant use paypal…..Its a long story!

    • admin says:

      Let me check into in andy. I have a stripe account, but I’m not sure of the status. Thank you for asking!! I’ll email you directly later.


  9. Dave Mac Donald says:

    Great stuff as always and I was pumped to see in my inbox that you had posted again. Debunking myths and distributing the truth is so important especially when it comes to educating kids. As a middle school PE teacher I see our kids get bombarded daily with nonsense when it comes to eating and health issues all the while the school gives them free food in the form of sausages wrapped in a pancake on a stick and calls it nutrition. I think what you’re doing is great and I look forward to seeing what you publish.



    • admin says:

      Thanks Dave!

      Yes, in the quest to market more food, no better place to start than children. It buys one a lifetime of bad habits and defensive behavior when confronted with chronic over nutrition.


  10. Ray Arachelian says:

    Why not just self-publish the paper under creative commons? You could post it right here.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Ray,

      That’s the problem. Too many self-anointed experts. By collaborating with expert researchers that have put in the time to understand the subject matter and then submitting one’s ideas to the scientific peer review process, a giant, necessary filter is put in place. It means one can’t say whatever they believe and during the process we had to revise and limit claims that we believed to be true, but did not have sufficient evidence to warrant. In this case there is also a limit in length that generates focus.

      The peer review process is also under attack as predatory “journals” have popped up everywhere that charge and make it look like legitimate science, when in fact it is just quackery. Jeffrey Beall maintains one such list of journals. He detailed just how unscrupulous these can be in a recent Nature article. In fact this journal, Nature (I subscribe to it), is not an open access journal. You can’t read the articles unless you have access through a subscribed library or academic institution. This particular article happens to be open access due to the content. More journals are offering this option so that authors can pay to have their article accessible, while most are still only available to subscribers.

      Don’t confuse the idea of “publishing a book” where one can write whatever they want as long as it isn’t legally slander/libel with publishing in a scientific journal that has a blind panel of reviewers that rip one’s submitted article to shreds and demand that the authors substantiate. In fact, it doesn’t matter if one is a world authority on the subject, the process is the same.

      As for a potential book, there are many options there and I have been approached by publishers. I just want to be certain I’m correct and not publishing yet another paperweight/bitbucket.

  11. Seth Featherston says:

    Do you need help from a billionaire to get your ideas out there? It seems like money is the ultimate goal for most people. If your not making money or if it’s not sensationalism nobody seems to listen. All that misinformation and misdirection out there is on purpose to hijack someone’s health goals and to make money off them. I personally stop telling people I freeze my Butt off because they are closed minded. I personally can’t lose the weight in the winter. I am overcome with the strongest urges to hoard food. I’m losing those 10 lbs again in the spring and summer. Also with why people believe others so much without the facts is because it’s human nature to believe others that are an authority on a certain subject. It’s a way for your mind to shortcut and to be more efficient in thought and actions. I always experiment on myself to see what works best. More greens help me feel and look better without being hungry. Is it the microbiome? I do know ray Kurzweil was looking extensively into longevity. He is some inventor free thinker. Maybe you should read up, as well as I

  12. david cosford says:

    Dear Ray,

    Thanks again for going to all this trouble to really dig down to the limits of our knowledge and machete through all of the misconceptions and dogmatic nonsense that is out there surrounding metabolism, nutrition and medicine.

    I would be keen to hear your opinions on resveratrol – is it at a place where we should be buying it online? Or should more time and research be done before quaffing pints of red wine and dosing pure res tablets?

    Could I also take an opportunity to suggest a quick measure to make this blog far more practical in its application?
    – Possibly making an article or guide based on what you and others have done to expose themselves to colder temperatures?
    – i find it difficult to be creative in a warm climate (Australia) to cool myself down and I was wondering if you could list some practical methods of achieving this cold stress? (i.e. I don’t have 2 hours every day to sit in a 17 degree room like they did in the Yoneshiro study)
    – A quick link up the top of this page to the articlewould also be useful for newcomers to understand what this idea involves practically.
    – Currently I have 5 minute cold showers 2-3x a day, go for cold walks in the mornings and sometimes even put ice packs on myself! However, I worry that this doesn’t translate into enough thermal stress to actually cause BAT upregulation.
    – Any other suggestions you have for getting this thermal stress from around the house, without it taking too long and without it being bank-breakingly expensive (a la mid-life crisis indirect calorimeter) would be great!

    Really looking forward to hearing more about your adventures and your research.

    Many thanks,


  13. Jason Harrison says:

    OMG Ray. What is the “Metabolic Winter Hypothesis”?? Cliff hanger….

  14. Eelco van Iperen says:

    Just donated. I read most of your posts some time ago already, which were quite an eye-opener in some aspects. I’m regularly checking your site just to make sure I didn’t miss an email with a new post – they are definitely worth the wait 🙂

    Very much looking forward to the article and book – keep up the good stuff!

  15. Billie Gaura says:

    Donezo! Rock on, Ray!

  16. Andy Galovic says:

    Sooo, the counter on the top of the page seem to indicate the goal for open access has been reached. Does that mean we can expect to see the study soon?

    Regardless, Id still like to figure out a way to donate without using paypal…

  17. Bill Jorge Dias Vera-Cruz says:

    Great Plan Ray, I look forward to read it….
    And I think that your Metabolic Winter Hypothesis will get some answers a lot sooner. I just found some articles that seem to prove that BAT theory of yours.
    What do you think about these articles?

    A New Way to Burn Calories

    Meteorin-like Is a Hormone that Regulates Immune-Adipose Interactions to Increase Beige Fat Thermogenesis

  18. Lynn Albritton says:

    “Confidence in nonsense” is a great phrase. I’ve just started reading about your work, and it makes too much sense to ignore. Although a steamy shower is my thinking, loose-track-of-time, happy place, I’m going to set that aside and see what happens. 10-20-10x showers, lighter clothing, socks, less blankets, and eat less; did I miss anything? Good thing the AC is working, because this Alabama summer is just getting started.

    With my own nonsense, inspired by Dr Lustig’s video, I’ve already got a reasonable handle on food. Hopefully thermodynamics will accelerate the experience. 🙂

  19. Rakesh Patel says:

    Hi Ray,

    I just read the published paper and find the concepts very intriguing and similiar as it rolls in my head and as i see patients as a family doc. Any chance you would be willing to come on a podcast that i am on to discuss?

  20. Interesting, fascinating read. Well thought out. I am curious as to what your thoughts might be on the exact opposite end of the spectrum….heat…adaptation…caloric expenditure during the cooling process, metabolic stress, etc. As one who grew up in a variety of tropical climates I have to say that you see fewer obese individuals in warm climates. I am not saying there aren’t any…but…I’d like to hear your thoughts on that extreme end as well. As an endurance athlete many of us know that racing cold in the cold over 3-12+ hours vastly increases caloric expenditure and nutrition changes drastically than what’s required for hot races. On a different note I also have to agree that there is a huge psychological component to weight, food consumption, and body image. As a long time trainer, coach, and exercise science geek I’ve seen and heard it all. Its like a teacher hearing reasons about why you didn’t get your homework done. A good book you might enjoy is “It’s Not About Food”. Can’t remember the author but a great read. They used to have a wonderful support group for people with eating disorders. Anyhoo..that’s my two cents. Great “Meta-Analysis” on your paper…can’t wait to read more.

    • admin says:


      No doubt that heat is a stress. There’s also no doubt that sirtuins and heat shock proteins (HSPs) interact. They appear to protect cells from protein-stress (like misfolding). Denaturing proteins (like the whitening of egg albumin) are changes that happen in the secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure (as opposed to primary – the sequence of amino acids in the overall chain). As a protein is encoded by codons in the genes (our protein blueprints), this very delicate balance of order and folding is kicked off. Radical stress can permanently damage the protein’s function and yet, we can still digest and assimilate the essential amino acid from food.

      While this is certainly important, we believe the significance of Metabolic Winter Hypothesis is not only overlap of biological stress, but in fact the constructive role these particular stresses, mild cold stress and caloric restriction, play in the mitochondrial biogenesis. At a particular seasonal input – seasonal limit of food and heat – these work in unison to both deliver heat (up regulation – non shivering thermogenesis) and the other ROS/Cellular benefits seen in caloric restriction.

      The point of the hypothesis is to suggest that by removing these regular, normal stresses seen throughout biology, did we tip the scale in favor of chronic disease and obesity? From a purely thermodynamic base, non-shivering thermogenesis (via PGC-1α) using lipids to directly produce waste heat and skip ATP (required to shiver and heat up) is a very efficient process. Further, the organism sleeping (inactivity) for longer nights is also a positive evolutionary feedback. Finally, up regulating the same proteins (e.g. PGC-1α) as a response to caloric restriction seems to complete this triad of events.

      If one things about winter from the perspective of phenology, we only have three “seasonal” inputs: light, temperature and food. We share that with every other species. Because of the difference in nature of our body – we need to DUMP excess heat year round – heat stress still occurs in summer even if air conditioning is used. There is no way to take off enough clothes and be outside to avoid some level of heat stress if one is active. In fact we are still fairly active in the summer months.

      Rather than see winter as a time we are not active and the lack of activity the CAUSE of the energy mismatch, I think it may be more reasonable to say we have projected summer: long days, warmth and lots of food into Metabolic winter and not the other way around. Even seasonal affective disorder is addressed through bright light therapy, although cold showers have shown equal benefit and I suspect caloric restriction would as well. It is after all a GOOD trait to no be active when calorie is scarce and environment is foreboding.

      This mistake I believe we make is to see exercise as the opposite of chronic over nutrition. I think the two are nearly unrelated and there is ample evidence to demonstrate we are just as active and that it’s not a metabolic problem causing our obesity demise. As we say in the paper, exercise without dietary changes is typically ineffective, but dietary changes without exercise works extremely well. That’s not to then go to the extreme and say exercise has no value, but that in our exuberance to promote activity we have now overstepped the value it has.


  21. Jodi Williams says:

    Hi Ray,
    I want you thank you for all the knowledge you’ve shared through your blog. I found your blog about 2 weeks ago through 4HB, and since then I’ve read through all you past posts and comments, while trying to absorb and retain as much information as I could. A lot like cramping a semester worth of school work the very last week before the finals. Not only I want to thank you, I also want to let you know that your work has impact. I may not be someone with a lot of weight to lose, but I’m certainly someone who was confused and unsure where to find truth.

    My journey started three months ago when I decided it was time to lose the last 10 pounds of “baby” weight. I was never overweight, never dealt with weight related health issues, never tried any of the popular diets, and completely unaware of some (paleo? zone? Mediterranean?). Diet was never a concern. I ate whatever and skipped meals here and there to get myself back on track. I say this because even though I lived in my own bubble, I still had the same misconception about food and exercise that was repeated over and over again by media. And I wasn’t even looking for it.

    I started reading books and made changes to my diet when I couldn’t lose the final pounds by “skipping meals here and there”. Now I understand through your blog that the reason it didn’t work was because I was feeding myself with the wrong food when I did eat. My food intake after baby was determined by what’s-the-most-convenient and that convenience came with a different price tag.

    I was already at my goal weight by the time I read 4HB. I came here not because I wanted to lose weight, but because I realized there was so much I didn’t know about how my body works. Your blog is like “biology 101” that I’ve never had anywhere else. What I learned from you will help me form my critical thinking going forward whenever I come across new claims or advises from others.

    More importantly, you helped correct my misconceptions about the popular use of protein and carb (sorry for using those words). I’m Chinese and I grew up on white rice, however, I started to feel guilty every time I consumed it because it had the label of “bad carb”. I should have known that it if were the problem, it would’ve been many years ago. I feel better now about what to eat, when to eat, and I’ll add some cool (not cold) stress with that. I plan to read Joel Fuhrman’s “The End of Dieting: Eating for Life” and “Super Immunity” next.

    My goal going forward is optimal health. You mentioned you were working on a food site in previous posts and I hope to be a part of it one day so I can continue to learn from you. Thank you for what you do and good luck with the published journal. Looking forward for more.


  22. Dani Badia says:

    I read your article and it has been a very inspirational read and left me with the will to learn more and more about the topic, especially on how to train the BAT and how SIRT activators could be used to enhance physical performance (quite controversial though).

    Looking forward to read more articles from you!


  23. Gavin Sammarco says:

    How does one figure out how many calories they are burning by taking cold baths? I am 37 year old man, 5’8″ tall, and weight 200 lbs. At 55 degrees F, how many calories would I burn per hour? Is there a chart anywhere that can help one figure this sort of thing out in terms of calories burned at various durations and temperatures?

  24. Rufus Nicks says:

    Whew! Just finished reading through all your material and had to donate after reading. I will be starting a weight loss experiment this weekend using what I learned. Thank you!

    • admin says:

      Thank you!!! welcome! Please post progress.


      • Rufus Nicks says:

        I’m a believer! For the past week I ate only red potatoes, brown rice, and veggies (broccoli and spinach mostly). I ate until I was full. Surprisingly, 2 red potatoes and 2 cups steamed broccoli was enough, and I’m 6’1 275-280 lbs. Water, unsweet tea, and diet coke to drink. I endured massive headaches on days 1-3. By day 4, headaches were gone. Cravings for CRAP food were sporadic, but I noticed they usually happened after not eating for 6+ hours.

        Monday 11/10: 277 lbs, 34% bf.
        Monday 11/17: 266 lbs, 32.6% bf.
        (bf taken with Escali bf analyzer)

        I’ve stayed away from potatoes all year trying to lose weight. I start eating 4 a day–drop 11 pounds. I plan to add cold exposure this week by soaking/swimming at the gym, though I’m not sure of the pool temp.

  25. Lore Zyra says:

    Tried to donate… but PayPal responds: “PayPal does not currently support Donation Payments from buyers in JP. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

    Wanted to contribute to your excellence, but sadly PayPal says “denied…” I’m based in Japan and so are my finances…

  26. […] Cronise, an ex-NASA materials engineer who together with Tim Ferris (4hr Body Man) puts forward a “Metabolic Winter” hypothesis; CT combined with calorie restriction for optimal health from an Ancestral point of view. Again, […]

  27. wayne fearn says:

    Hi Ray

    What is next?

    When do we climb out of the rabbit hole (

  28. […] Thermogenex:The Metabolic Winter Hypothesis […]

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