blood testsIt’s hard to believe that this is only my second post for the year.  Where did it go?  I’ve not been sitting idle. First,  a big thanks to ALL of the people that contributed to the open source fund for the Metabolic Winter Hypothesis paper.  Not only did we reach the goal in under a week, but the paper has been a huge success. It broke all download records for the journal and remains their number one downloaded paper.  Thank you for helping and thank you for sharing it with so many people.

I am currently working with the collaborators of the first paper, along with an expanded set of top notch new collaborators on the second and third paper.  These will go much deeper into the issues of metabolism, Calorie, and assorted myths that we (yes, me too) have propagated during our quest to be the most obese human generation of all time.

Of course it can be said in a simple summary: “protein, carbohydrate, and fat” – speak  doesn’t tell you much and you can’t out-exercise your mouth.

Today of course, one would believe weight loss and health requires a degree in molecular biology, but I can assure you that there are millions of words propagated in thousands of blogs by people repeating, not measuring.  I don’t intend on wasting your bandwidth here and that requires a not-so-profitable diligence to do science first and promote second.  For this I appreciate your patience and support.

But it is FALL!

At least in the northern hemisphere and that means mild cold stress season.  Let’s take a few minutes to talk about some great papers that published in the last few months and some practical tips for easing into metabolic winter and getting the most out of  it. Rather than plunging into shivering water or eating buckets of ice, it’s more important to focus on achieving mild exposure over longer durations.  As the summer ends, we are warm adapted and we  have an exaggerated response to cooler temperatures.  65F/18C might very well seem cool in the middle of the summer, but in the middle of the winter coming in from a ski run that same temperature is comfortable and warm.  I explain more in Ch-Ch-Changes (you need to be a registered user to see archives – it’s free and I don’t send you junk mail to buy stuff).

The take home summary here is that we don’t really sense/judge absolute temperature very well and we can become accustomed to a warmer/cooler environment without much effort; this isn’t akin training for a marathon.   One IDEAL way to become more accustomed to the warm-cool “shock” and acclimate is through contrast showers.  I highly recommend these to everyone getting started.   Check out Mitochondrial Anarchy for details on why, but I’ve included the photo here if you just want to jump right in.

As we explain in Metabolic Winter Hypothesis, there seems to be a strong interdependence with mild cold stress, caloric restriction, and sleep.   These not only impact higher level interaction like found in the HPT-Axis, but also seem to play a strong role at the cellular biogenesis level.  It seems that our circadian clocks are intertwined with both the season and energy management.  That’s not a surprising idea, but we currently seem to be one seasoned in our approach to health: bright, active, and warm.   For example, it’s well known that Seasonal Affective Disorder may be addressed by bright light therapy (thinkla spring/metabolic summer) and yet widely unknown that cold stress can have similar results.  The question one then brings up: is it too little light or too much warmth that is causing the problem? No one can answer for certain, but our  “fear of cold” learned response is to reach for the bright, happy light.  We do the same thing with the “fear of hunger” and sugar, salt and fat.

Not everything we crave is necessarily what we “need.”  Alcoholics and heroin addicts are just two examples of this change from have to have not that inserts a craving that is neither healthy or natural.   We see  it’s the sudden change that seems to rock the boat and contrast showers are one way to not only mute your response to that change, but further to begin an easy, comfortable adaptation to the lower temperatures ahead.

Una Siesta Fresca

We discussed in Beauty Sleep the wonderful advantages of cool sleep and some scientists at National Institutes of Health (NIH) , National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases have beautifully demonstrated this in a recent study.   Impact of Chronic Cold Exposure in Humans (ICEMAN) is a bit misleading (everyone wants to make it sound extreme), looked at 5 men ranging in age from 19-23 and looked at metabolic response.  Over a 4 month period they were subjected to sleeping in rooms that varied from 66°F (19°C) and 81°F (27°C). Daytime activities were normal.  BAT and metabolism was measured at the end of each month and researchers concluded that the warm, 81°F (27°C), suppressed BAT and metabolic activity, while the mild cold 66°F (19°C) increased the men’s BAT and metabolic rates.

Figure 1 Map showing the 100 clusters included in the study grouped according to their mean annual temperature.  from S. Valde

Figure 1 Map showing the 100 clusters included in the study grouped according to their mean annual temperature. from S. Valde

A second study that I haven’t seen reported much was conducted by researchers in Spain.   They found, after adjusting for lifestyle (physical activity, Mediterranean diet score, smoking) and socio-demographic (age, gender, educational level, marital status) that a clear association in obesity with mean annual temperature existed.   The first question many ask me when I discuss my research is, “well, why aren’t people fat in that live in cold climates?” I typically respond, because we avoid the cold by layering and ubiquitous warm shelter and transportation. What is interesting about this study is that it’s somewhat a homogeneous culture and diet and the temperature range is 10.4-21.9C (50.7-71.4F).  This is a perfect span of mild cold stress – reinforcing the point I always make here (and yet the media NEVER quotes me correct on) extreme is not necessary.  Cool, not cold is the best approach.  This was a final sample size of 5061 men/women and there is clearly a significant trend.

From the warmest to the coolest quartile, obesity prevalence rose from 26.9% (Q1)…30.5% (Q2)…32% (Q3)…33% (Q4).  I think these both underscore the power of mild cold stress and also reinforce the metabolic winter hypothesis.  I doesn’t take much over a long time to make a huge difference. As well, lipids are likely prefered in non shivering thermogenesis over glucose, conserving precious glucose to fuel red blood cells (they have no mitochondria and can’t metabolize lipids or ketones).   If you ever see my name associated with an article or quoted in one that discuss crazy cold stuff, please know right then that I told the journalist, perhaps pleaded with them, to not make this article about extreme.  They rarely listen, but just know I NEVER have a conversation with one that I don’t emphasize that point.

Gloves before sweater makes you look better – cover your symptoms of cold (nose, face, ears, feet, and hands) first and carry layers with you.   Layer as needed and don’t layer and remove.  Use caution in long duration exposures and don’t fool with water temperatures below 60F (15.5C) or air 32F (0C).  Be safe as you can have a big impact without resorting to epic extreme.

Open Source Body

Besides writing, one of my main activities the last couple of months was setting up a non-profit 501(c)3 foundation to fund continued research.  Having selected a founding board and kicked it off with an initial investment, it’s underway.  We’re working on setting up a website and establishing a working relationship with several other organizations.  We have the founding board in place and are actively seeking our science advisory board.

Our Mission is simple:

osb logoWith worldwide pandemics of chronic disease and obesity, Open Source Body is a network created to facilitate the collaborative research that might halt or reverse this trend. All data submitted or research paid for by will be available for public access.

The mission of Open Source Body is to extend the successful open source efforts that fueled the internet revolution to areas of health, fitness and nutrition. We operate under the simple principle that good health can be found in every body.

I am encouraged by the participation and support you have given me and I think this can be scaled. The internet is loaded with blogs that preach health under a never ending drum beat of selling supplements, plans, and you name it.  I’m certainly not against anyone making a living, but it doesn’t play well when they turn out to be wrong and have an entire business built on a house of cards.  That ends up in senseless attacks or bullying and really, I don’t want to participate in this sort of fiasco.   We only learn when we are wrong – every good scientist understands this.   What I seem to encounter more often than not on blogs are people with science backgrounds that just repeat, repeat, repeat. The story is now down to such a reductionist level that one needs a degree in molecular biology to keep up or go grocery shopping. It appears to be a never ending contradiction to the public.   This ever increasing techno talk bodes well as people end up being easily bamboozled with techno-talk.

Carl Sagan had this to say:

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

So rather than rant more about this, I want to do something proactive to make a difference and my first self test is under way.  I’m trying not to be tricked and I know the human brain, more importantly my brain, is biased to patterns.  It’s tough to escape it, but with good measurement it is possible.   About a year ago you might remember I did a small, 6 week self test and it was an incredible success with some unexpected outcomes.  Knowing I didn’t have enough data to fully capture what was going on, I decided to repeat it and up the ante a bit.  I have a team of researchers that helped me design and carry out this test and it’s been pretty damn exciting.

SelfTest.012To start, I gained (0ver 3 months) 15 lbs and held that weight for over 2 months before I began. I have been weight stable for nearly 6 years outside of the couple of short experiments I did over a year ago.  That stable weight was  about 20 lbs above my ideal weight.  The goal was simple: track it all and lose 30 lbs in 6 weeks without exercise or supplements and test some of the fundamental notions of the “nutritional emergency/deficiency” everyone seems to bellow on about in an endless onslaught of advertisements.

I began the Phase 3 on November 8, coincidentally my 50th birthday, and as of today I haven’t eaten for 11 days.  Over the weekend, we did full amino acid profiles every  4 hours over 24 hours.  I look like a junkie with track marks in both arms and both hands. It required me to pack my lab and drive 2400 miles to California. I’ve measured my metabolism daily throughout this 6-week test and despite losing 30.3 lbs already and not EATING for 11 days, my body is not going into “starvation mode” >gasp<, which is oft reported by fitness, blogs, and media (and researchers, physicians and dietitians).  I suspect most that proclaim these metabolic doomsday have likely never measured a single metabolism in their lives; they might not even know a person that has.   Am I a genetic freak? I’m not betting on it as my data matches almost identically the results of the great scientists of the 19th century that studied this subject back when this was actually cutting edge research.

There are too many repeaters.

self test prelimToday I decided to plot some data, after all  I have to do is take needles and drink water and how much of that can one take?   I  exceeded my goal of 30 lbs today with 3 days of water left,  but it’s pretty exciting to share this with my blog followers.  If you are new to the blog, I highly recommend you stop now and go back to the Muscling Your Metabolism posts  and work your way though.  Once again, it’s respiratory quotient that everyone leaves out of the “broken metabolism” drama that is key to understanding what is happening.

Take a look at the graphs.  You see my weight loss (A) is is pretty constant and of course if one just goes by the RMR of the Harris-Benedict equation (B), it predicts a declining metabolism. Remember, metabolism scales with MASS not lean mass.  The bigger you are, the more calories you’ll burn.  It’s similar to the riddle, which weighs more, a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks? Likewise, whether you lug around an extra 30, 50 or 100 lbs of fat or steel all day long, it’s going to amp up metabolism. More on this in our next paper.

Okay, this is where the FUN begins.  As you can see (C) my BMR does drop over the first 8 days or so. Can this be the dreaded “starvation mode” that we are warned about? Will it crash to zero and cause me to balloon back to 230 lbs? What if I skip breakfast????  There is an ever so slight downward trend of BMR as you see in the linear curve fit, but as I have have often warned, the magnitude of metabolism is almost irrelevant.  Think of it like a business.  What do annual sales tell us about the health of a company?  Not much.  They could be making $100 million a year and losing $25 million a year in a slow (fast) bleed.  We need to see the balance sheet. Tell me about net income or EBITDA.

The same is true with metabolism and we need to know how the metabolism is partitioned between carbohydrate or fat so take a look (D).  Clearly my FAT metabolism is not staying level, in fact it’s zooming up. That’s because starvation mode is BURNING OUR RESERVES.  How simple can this be? I mean, why do we have fat anyway if not to burn it in times of caloric scarcity. As we point out in Metabolic Winter Hypothesis, that used to be an annual stressor. Now, winter never comes. We need to stop making things so difficult.

More Work To Do

I’m so excited by the results and it’s been an incredible journey and learning experience. There’s a lot more, but I wanted to share that with our community now and ask for your help.  I am raising $15,000 to help defer the costs of the testing and travel associated with this test. As well I’d like to begin the Open Source Body website development and design.  I am done self testing (at least for weight loss) as I intend on staying within my ideal weight from this point forward. I’ll finally put exercise back into my regular activity and continue to work with mild cold stress and calorie restriction to help define ways more people can practically adopt it into their lifestyle.

Hypothermics Donation

As always I am grateful to all of the regular donors, emails, FaceBook Friends, and  commenters for allowing me to pursue this passionately for the last 5 years.  It’s been such an unexpected adventure and there’s much more work to get done.   I’m going to get back to my water now – have to be well hydrated for that massive amount of blood to be drawn tomorrow morning.




Lee, Paul, et al. “Temperature-acclimated brown adipose tissue modulates insulin sensitivity in humans.” Diabetes (2014): DB_140513.

Valdés, Sergio, et al. “Ambient temperature and prevalence of obesity in the Spanish population. Di@ bet. es study.” Obesity (2014).


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55 Responses to Let The Games Begin

  1. Beatrice U says:


    Impressive results. I don’t suppose you could tell us the percentage of actual fat loss that was responsible for the 30lb drop in weight?


    • admin says:

      Thanks Beatrice

      Absolutely – when I find out after post fast dexa scans. I suspect the root of your question comes in the concern of the dreaded “lean mass loss.” Of course I lost leand mass, it’s typically 25-37% of any weight loss (when one measures accurately). Let’s dig into that just a little deeper. Lean mass is NOT muscle mass. Lean mass is muscle mass, internal organs, skin, bone, AND water. Fat mass is fat mass, but the opposite of fat is not muscle.

      By the same reasoning skinny is not the opposite of fat. Skinny is the lack of muscle on the frame and fat is excess adipose tissue. One can’t fix a skinny person by putting fat between the muscle and skin. They must go to the gym. Likewise obesity isn’t fixed by putting on muscle mass in the gym, hence all the obese crossfit and marathoners.

      Let’s take a 198 lbs fit man at .15% bodyfat. That means he’s carrying 29.7 lbs of body fat. Just look at the volume that is (see picture below) and imagine where hes storing 6 of these. To put it in perspective, it’s 103,950 kcal or enough to fuel his 2000 kcal/day basal burn for 52 days (predicted 5’10”, 35, male harris-benedict). Now what if I am half wrong? Hopefully one can see the discrepancy. We aren’t designed to be obese and evolved to cope with times of cold stress and seasonal calorie scarcity.

      I know, but I MEASURED my arms and legs, Ray, they got got SMALLER. Yes, because as we get leaner the only place to put those 6 blobs of fat is intramuscular, which increases muscular volume. We marble just like a nice ribeye. As well the notion of “pump” after a workout is NOT a muscle mass change that diminishes later – it’s a temporary shift in fluid (60-65% water adult man).

      What about the “protein” loss? Well, as regular readers of this blog know protein also isn’t = to muscle (flesh of any animal). All cells contain about 10,000 differenc proteins. During a fast (complete abstinence of calorie – not fad juice/cabbage/potato varieties) amino acids are used for gluconeogenesis to create blood glucose. Mine has averaged 49-55 most of the time. We mostly use the EAA alanine, which in my (and most) blood work is the second most concentrated amino acid (after glutamate). We need a minimum level and extensive studies of prolonged fasting shows that loss of nitrogen (from amino acid deficit in diet – also called nitrogen balance) drops down to 25% of the first week or so. There is such great data on it I didn’t even bother doing it.

      So how might you lose muscle mass if you actually wanted to? Exercise. That’s right, be active and drive the loss. You see, exercise by design is designed to tear down tissue and then through a hormetic response the tissue grows back stronger due to the stress. That’s the only way to put on muscle mass. You can take steroids and drink gallons of protein shakes and with no Gym, you’ll see very little results. Building muscle is HARD work.

      Now let’s think about that differently. If exercise breaks down tissue so that it can be rebuilt stronger why in the world would we want to do this in the absence of a good, calorie sufficient diet? Anyone I work with I have them STOP exercising. So that brings up the final point. Sedentary is NOT the opposite of exercise. It’s the opposite of active. One can live an active life and not ever step into a gym. Will they put on “lean mass to burn fat?” No, but that’s irrelevant.

      Metabolic winter (use reserves, i.e. fat) can be thought of as cool, dark, and still, while metabolic summer is warm, bright and active. We always reach for summer. Eat more; move more; use more light. Winter never comes.

      I just lived through winter for 6 weeks and the results are as expected.

      Hope that helps! I expanded your question so as to catch the 20 more that will likely follow. Hope you don’t mind!!! 🙂

      thanks for the comment!!!


  2. Thomas Hemming says:

    Hi Ray,

    That’s some very interesting findings, I’m not that surprised to see them though. One caveat I would like to mention that this is about context. Your results will be different compared to a person with anorexia because of your slight overweight. I’ve had anorexia and I will almost guarantee that my metabolic adaptions, body temperature etc. would have been markedly different from yours.

    I’m just saying that when you come from a very well fed state you can handle a lot more stress without major adverse effects.


    Thomas Hemming

    • admin says:


      Thanks for sharing openly. I want to reiterate with you that weight is NOT your problem and even for someone obese it shouldn’t define their self worth. You must eat. At first it means you will put on body fat and that is perfectly okay – even if you don’t feel good about how you look for a time. You NEED the reserves to eventually build up the muscle tissue you likely lost to get that body you were always going for. I am NOT a bodybuilder, nor am I an image freak.

      I’ve had the Tri-gym-elites grab a love handle and say, “why should I listen to you?” I think silently, if that’s your response to intellectual dialog, you’ll never get it anyway – go drink a shake. I don’t care what people think and that’s partially why I am good at disrupting. It sucks sometimes to be the only one in the room that has really taken the time to understand the problem. Especially when the others think they do from reading a diet book or blog from the NYT and Huffington post as an authority. Likewise many well-intentioned bloggers aren’t much different.

      My message to you is to eat healthfully and freely. You need to get this under control and if I can inspire you to not worry about the body-image part, It would be a great honor. Healthy food is amazing. Just like bodybuilding and dieting isn’t compatible (see another reply here) neither is your situation. I agree with your statement and it’s very important to emphasize.

      I wish you luck. Keep me posted and DEFINITELY get beyond this. You absolutely can do it.


      • Thomas Hemming says:


        Thanks a lot for the support! You’re absolutely right, I’ve lost so much muscle mass, at some point it felt like climbing Mount Everest just walking up the stairs. For such a long time I was unable to exercise the least because I had almost wasted away. Its better now and I’m able to exercise to regain some of the muscle mass. You’re right about the calorie sufficient diet, if I don’t eat and sleep properly I would almost instantly feel terrible mentally and physically.

        The first paragraph of your reply is definitely a great inspiration. I’m so tired of being obsessed about being ripped because I know that its not what people like me for yet I can’t get it out of my head. Objectively, I rather want to be healthy than look good naked but the drive to focus on body image therefore restricting calories is strong.
        I’m getter better at handling it, day by day.

      • admin says:

        Great Thomas!

        If I can be inspiring to you – that makes my day. There are so many sites dedicated to the “6-pack” nonsense (now it’s 8-pack). The problem is that this has had the opposite effect too in the DEFENSE of obesity. “Love your body as you are” is this mantra that is on the surface absolutely correct, but at the same time it traps someone that has remained obese (a health issue). Who would ever give you that advice? Thomas, you’re an anorexic, love your body thin and sick. This is crazy pants.

        The drive for perfect, that few obtain is not a worthy cause for me. I want to live long healthy and die fast if I can’t avoid that altogether. So many people I work with that are obese are absolutely sabotaged by their friends and family – you look too thin, you’re anorexic, you look scrawny… Imagine from your perspective of wrestling with this issue that a person, that still measures overweight by any objective chart or scale, being called anorexic. I often wonder why it’s okay to walk up to someone and say, wow, you’re looking thin… and yet if I say, hey, you’re kind of porky there, might want to lay off the bacon it’s completely rude.

        So stay focused. Eat more and more – there’s never a too much for you and you will be able to regain the ability to exercise and overtime you can become a happy “normal” along with people like me that just don’t care how much I bench, how fast I can run, or how high I can jump. When I see tigers, they’re on the other side of bars.

        Good job Thomas! Now change your story from “I’ve had anorexia” to I’m getting more healthy every day. Don’t worry about the mirror.


  3. Ray Griffioen says:

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for sharing all this great info. I really apreciate all the work you put in this. I’ve read all your blogs, they are truly inspiring.

    I have a few questions:
    Do you think that simply not eating is the fastest way to burn fat, because you have the biggest calorie deficit possible? Would you recommend it to anyone? Do you think it’s good for your health as well?

    Second question can be a bit to personel, so I respect it if you don’t want to answer it.
    I am blessed not knowing hunger. I feel miserable after not eating for eleven hours. How does it feel to not be eating for eleven days? I know lot’s of people have no food out of poverty, but how do you cope with hunger out of free will?

    Thanks for reading this,

    Ray Griffioen

    • admin says:

      Thanks Ray!

      I don’t recommend fasting to lose weight. One can achieve .6-.8 lbs sustained loss a day, while still eating (first 30 days of that graph). THe most dangerous part of a prolonged fast (> 5 days) is refeeding as the digestive tract is completely shut down. One can have an impacted bowel, depending on the diet they ate pre-fast (especially with meat of any animal source pre-fast). As well there is a possibility of a rapid electrolyte shift that sends one into cardiac arrest.

      I just met with my physicians this morning about my refeeding on Friday. We are planning it such that I can see my changes in blood sugar as I transition from ketosis to glucose. As well I will remain in a nutritional hood for about 4-6 hours after I eat to capture the metabolic changes. Not sure how that transition will go, but it should be interesting… or completely boring. Sometimes science is like watching algae grow.

      Fasting for health – absolutely. There’s no question and unfortunately the guidelines are not well defined as the medical community has ignored it for too long (not very profitable). You can find a lot of info on intermittent fasting (5:2 diet etc). I think the best overview was done a couple of years ago by BBC (

      Hunger is not miserable. It’s like thirst (not dehydration) is not miserable either. That’s not a good strategy for a starving animal to find food. Your headache, lethargy, irritability, lack of focus, and shakey are all withdrawal symptoms and similar to giving up caffeine, heroin, or alcohol. Certainly a different level of severity and duration, but our body responds the same. I felt nothing at all. I still feel nothing at all. Perfectly normal. I’m not out doing crossfit, but resting. Not in bed all day and not sluggish. I walk to lectures, meet with friends, etc… It’s no different than the fed state; however, I eat very healthfully and live a mostly calorically restricted lifestyle.

      Let’s now talk about starvation. That is an ADVANCED state of no food – similar to dehydration. It’s when the labile nutrient reserves in your body are beginning to be depleted. Up until that point there is no misery. People tug on your heart strings with images (yes it IS a tragedy and we need to prevent it) by making you compare your addictive response to no food for a couple of hours to how THEY feel all the time.

      I needed no willpower, effort or concentration to do it. I’m not a genetic freak; I’m a human being and we are kidding ourselves to think we were fed every 2-4 hours all year long for the last 7 million year evolutionary journey. Everyone can absolutely go without food. Sadly, gastric bypass surgery (horrific) forces this through a profitable medical procedure and the results of this and people fed the same way as the postoperative patient get the EXACT results. see:

      I feel fine after 12 and really it’s not been a superhuman effort.

      Thanks Ray! Hope that helps!!


  4. Love the evidence. Glad to see the “protein” myth busted.

  5. Julia Finn says:

    Thank you Ray!
    Very interesting and provocative. I know you are busy but could you clarify the excerpt below, I dont understand the question–(maybe there is a typo)?

    The first question many ask me when I discuss my research is, “well, why aren’t people fat in that live in cold climates?”

    • admin says:

      Thanks Julia

      I was relaying that many take the notion of mild cold stress and inmeadiately point to cold climates with obese people. They then ask, why are they fat if cold is so good?

      Of course the fallacy is people in cold clinates rarely experience the climate and seek shelter or adequate protective layers. They also are well-fed during those months due to transportation and agriculture advantages.

      On the other hand the Spanish study I cite looks at a relatively honogeneous society that’s not too geographically disperse with mild cool temperatures spanning the area. These aren’t extreme and as such people night be more generally exposed.

      The results, while not conclusive, are very conpelling evidence for the metabolic winter hypothesis.

      Thanks! Hope that helps.


      • Julia Finn says:

        Yes, very interesting –. I’m wondering if you have some ideas now about integrating fasting into a long term plan. Also, have you shared thoughts on optimal nutrition lately?
        Many thanks.

  6. Ben says:

    Hi Ray
    I know you must be really busy so I’ll try and keep it short.

    I’ve just finished reading all your blog posts which I found incredibly interesting and I would like to do some Self experiments on my metabolism and respiratory quotient etc…

    So is there any semi-cheap ($1000 – $5000) way of measuring this, I really have no experience in this area so I’m guessing some sort of indirect calorimetry device but again I’ve really no idea!


    • admin says:


      Unfortunately no. I began with a unit i constructed with O2/CO2 sensors (not quite research grade), exported data into excel and did a lot of crunching. I could see the swing qualitatively, but it wasn’t very useful. Remember the magnitude of metabolic rate doesn’t say much without RQ.

      Next I moved to a ~2500 class medgem and that was almost a step backwards because they measure only O2 and assume an RQ.

      There are a range of solutions in the $7-12k zone that do better but they don’t allow one to calibrate with standard gas. This introduces a lot of day to day comparison issues (I calibrated before every run).

      Ultimately I knew I had to step it up a notch. I had a lot of hope when came out, but using strips etc seems that it will fall short. For years the deltatrac was the gold standard, but no longer manufactured. Now the unit I have has been quantified to meet that level of performance.

      Here’s the biggest point. My results are no different than Atwater or even Lavoisier. Those decrying Calories (as I once did) are just bad accountants.

      Your metabolism is not broken. What is broken is the deluge of advertising that’s brainwashed people into thinking it is. I’m not trying to dissuade you from testing, but you’ll end up in the same rabbit hole I did back in 2010 when my results we called in question. It’s an expensive, slippery slope. Perhaps with what you want to do it would be fine, but then again that’s how we got into this mixed message mess – generalizing.

      Does that help?

  7. d j says:

    Hi Ray,

    I came across your blog about a year ago, which I loved reading. My background is in medicine and biomedical engineering, so it was interesting to read a n=1 science based perspective. I just recently discovered all the comments in your blog, which talked about how to implement your discoveries. I have about 30 lbs to lose and since my own fat loss has stalled, I am excited to try your recommendations. I am open to taking measurements to keep track of the progress.

    1. stop weight training and cardio
    2. take up contrast shower
    3. sleep with less covers
    4. keep the house cooler 55F
    5. wear less layers in the house
    6. eat nutratarian meals without added fat, sat, sugar
    7. spend time outdoors avg 35F daily

    I have been wondering:

    1. How often should I do the contrast showers?
    2. How long do I wait after eating before I do the outside cold exposure?
    3. How long do I wait after the cold exposure before I can eat?
    4. How many minutes of cold exposure should I do?
    5. I find when I eat nutratarian meals I feel full and yet not satisfied.
    Is that food addiction, cause i am used to eating fat/sugar/salt with my meals?
    6. If I do eat something fatty/sugar/salt (ie at family/work functions), how long do I wait before I eat nutra?
    7. Again in unavoidable situations how long after I eat nutra can I eat something fatty/sugar/salt?
    6. Any other advice and tips?

    Keep up the awesome work 🙂


    • admin says:

      1. How often should I do the contrast showers?

      once a day (mornings – twice a day if you need help getting to sleep

      2. How long do I wait after eating before I do the outside cold exposure?

      doesn’t matter

      3. How long do I wait after the cold exposure before I can eat?

      doesn’t matter
      4. How many minutes of cold exposure should I do?

      As long mild cold exposures as you can without being hypothermic above 60F/15.5C that’s nearly indefinite.

      5. I find when I eat nutratarian meals I feel full and yet not satisfied.

      You aren’t eating enough volume. a salad, for example, should be the size of a typical family-szed serving bowl. Also, make sure you aren’t confusing hunger with addictive eating (he describes it in detail in ETL)

      Is that food addiction, cause i am used to eating fat/sugar/salt with my meals?

      likely yes.

      6. If I do eat something fatty/sugar/salt (ie at family/work functions), how long do I wait before I eat nutra?

      don’t do it if you are trying to lose. It just sends the message to the brain – calorie ahead, eat. From our paper realize that in a calorie scarce world, there’s no disadvantage to over eating or storing the most energy dense portion of the meal (fat).

      7. Again in unavoidable situations how long after I eat nutra can I eat something fatty/sugar/salt?

      Eating is always avoidable. I didn’t eat for two weeks. I was fine. 🙂

      6. Any other advice and tips?

      Try to avoid social eating for some period until the addictive cravings go away. We are a society of one meal that takes breaks to work and sleep. It’s very easy to over eat.

      I’ll be talking more later on all of this.

      Thank you and sorry for the delay!


  8. Millicent Barnes says:

    Re: Cold climates-fat people and heat stress:
    I have lived in Alaska most of my life. I never experienced cold stress here like I did in Santiago, Chile. Central heat is unheard of, a hot shower is a luxury even in wealthy households. Almost no bathroom sink is was hooked up to hot water. Wash your hands in cold water. Wash your clothes in cold water. Cold drafty showers, houses spot heated with stinky kerosene heaters while it was 45 degrees outside and rainy. In Alaska even our cars even get washed in hot water!! So don’t think that you can predict cold stress by latitude. It seems the best environment for being thin has a cold winter, but not cold enough to trap you indoors and also offers plenty of daylight and sunshine. That is why I think Colorado and Utah are the thinnest states in the US.

    • admin says:

      Where are you when people are debating with me all the time??? Thank you! I am going to incorporate this into my discussions from here on!


      • Millicent Barnes says:

        Contact me anytime if you have questions. I am a midwife and biologist and have a lifetime of experience in the sub-arctic. My husband was raised and works in the Arctic Circle. There are a lot of myths out there about life up here!

  9. d j says:

    Hi Ray,

    Wow, 4 lbs in 4 days so far! I haven’t had this much weight loss in a year. I am still eating starchy veggies, so its not water loss from low carbing it. I was fasting for about 20 hours 2 days, so perhaps part of it is muscle loss and part of it is from diuretic effects of coffee/tea? I am pulling back on the fasting and measuring weight before I start drinking coffee/tea/water in the morning to weed out those factors. I am pretty amazed at the results so far regardless.


  10. Jeff says:

    Hi Ray,
    Would you mind sharing a little more information about the protocol of your self test? I’ve read through all of yours posts, and I have a pretty good understanding of some of your points. I am interested in hearing about this self-test in particular. As I understand it, you were eating for the first 4 weeks, and then fasting the last 4?
    Thank you for everything you do, and keep up the good work!

    • admin says:

      Thanks jeff

      Sorry for the delay. Yes, I will talk a lot more about it soon. We are publishing another paper that is in draft now. I can tell you that I stayed under 600 kcal/day for the 30 days prior and that the fat loss was the same eating/water fast.

      There are really some crazy stories about calories out there and this calorie in-calorie out doesn’t work talk is a lot of bad accounting. When measured carefully, Atwater is 100% correct.



  11. Michael Pope says:

    The data cuts through the hype. Very interesting to see the minimal changes in BMR. Here is a just published paper I think you may enjoy.
    Happy Holidays!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Michael!

      Enjoyed it and cringed as it was a punchline in our next paper. It’s obvious of course, but so few realize it. Thank you for pointing it out. I have spent many many many…many hours measuring that CO2. Oh, am I painfully aware.


  12. amy says:

    Were there changes(quantity, capacity, activity) in your brown adipose tissue during this fast?

    • admin says:


      I don’t know, but I can tell you that my cold tolerance decreased. It was VERY apparent. During the first part of my fast, I was losing a little more rapidly as I was doing mild cold stress to help sleep, so I stopped. That slowed my weight loss down, but then after I lost, I became far more susceptible to cold. This was not insulation – I know how to “warm” my body through mind as Wim Hof and I have done together and that was even not as good.

      One hypothesis is that I actually lost BAT that had been built up over the years. It was only the second time I had lost weight since late 2008 (my weight has been stable, but about 10-15 above ideal. I did a mini test in June 2013, but that was summer and I was fine with cold by the next winter.

      So it may have diminished and needs to be built back up.

      Thanks for the question – sorry for the delay.


  13. Coby Cathey says:

    Hi Ray.

    I am curious, how did your body respond, once you resumed food. I fasted on occasion, once for 7 days, and it always seemed to me like I gained fat after fasting. It’s just my personal experience.

    Also, I am having trouble finding how to create the heat deficit on this site. Am I missing it? I would really like to lose 30lbs of fat in 60 days.

    Thanks so much!


    • admin says:

      It’s been a while, sorry for the delay. When you fast it, obviously there is dehydration and loss of fluid/food in your gut. So for me, I arrested the fast at about 161…it took me a couple of days of eating for the loss to stop. Then I was able to put on about 8-9 pounds in glycogen/water.

      For me the fat loss of the water fast was identical to the two eating regimes during the 30 days before. I will be reporting on all of that in more detail later. I’ve repeated this many times with people that have from 8-120 lbs to lose. I haven’t seen an exception (other than people that just quit).

      As for cool, it’s a matter of long periods of light exposure as opposed to short periods of intense cold. Build up the tolerance (one of my previous posts outlines contrast showers).

      Hope that helps.


  14. Kirk Macgurk says:

    Hi Ray, I’ve been reading up on your articles after originally being introduced to you by the 4-hour body. I’m a 25 y.o. amateur bodybuilder and even though the physique sports aren’t your targeted audience I still enjoy reading and learning from you. I am currently dieting for my first ever competition and am applying many of the things I have read here in aiding my preparation. I’m not surprised this information on cold adaptation isn’t being utilized by other competitors (if you think mainstream health and fitness is ingrained in their ways, you would be astonished at the dogmatic nature of most physique sport competitors) but since I’m hoping to open some eyes and challenge some pre-conceived notions I’m experimenting and look forward to sharing my results with the bodybuilding industry.

    Presently, I am approximately 11% bf at a body-weight of 235 lbs. For the sake of competition I am aiming to temporarily be in the ~6% range at the date of my contest in April. I’m hopefully going to do this with the least amount of steady state cardio any competitor has done in preparation for the show. I, like you, don’t believe the amount of ‘suffering’ most go through to do this is necessary and look forward to writing a post chronicling my efforts and results.

  15. Robert McAdams says:

    I just got around to reading

    and noticed at the bottom they say:

    “This calculation ignores fat that may be excreted as ketone bodies under particular (patho)physiological conditions or minor amounts of lean body mass, the nitrogen in which may be excreted as urea”

    Since one can lose fat while eating glucose, and outside of ketosis, I’m assuming that fat normally is excreted through the lungs, as the article states. But if one isn’t eating glucose and forcing the body to use nothing but fat, then the lungs aren’t able to remove the waste products and the excretory system becomes involved. Does that make sense to anyone else?

  16. James Hurst says:

    Does the body have to use just as many calories to maintain temperature in an extremely hot environment as in a cold one? For example, if a sauna is 115F, would you be tapping into fat stores to run the metabolic processes required to sweat, increase heart rate, etc.? I’ve searched, but never found any studies proving steam/sauna to improve fat loss (though I would like it to be true, since I enjoy them).

  17. Cristina Currier says:

    Hi Ray,
    First of all I want to thank you for all the work you’ve been diligently putting into studying this matter and for your generosity in sharing so openly on your site.
    I’ve learned about you after listening to Penn’s show on March 8th I believe and been reading about you ever since.
    I don’t want this to come across in a disrespectful way and if it comes like that I apologize. That’s not my intention. But I’ve read all the blogs on your beside. I’ve only, towards the end, skipped some of the comments.
    Anyway, my question to you is what exactly is the program/protocol that all your friends and clients like Penn followed. I understand in general the guidelines, as are stated through out the blogs. But by now it has to be more then that. I’m assuming you got it down to a science/formula and if you don’t mind maybe you could share a bit more of a succinct and clear approach. I’m assuming that Penn didn’t have to read all the blogs in order to understand and know what to do. There is any way you could share more of this program here? And if you can’t then can I sign up for it somewhere else?
    Thank you.

  18. Eric Carroll says:


    I’ve dropped 15lbs in the last 10 days. First 4 days I fasted (lots of water), 3 days I ate normally, and now am on my 4th day of water fasting again. Should I be using any supplements? I’m thinking specifically of calcium and vitamin D.


  19. Helen Carter says:

    Fasting with water. What about black coffe or tea? I like coffee. Iced tea would be a nice change. Thanks.

  20. Paul Shearer says:

    Just wanted to share some info and get some thoughts on my weight loss experience. A little over 3 yrs ago, I was at 250 lbs at 5’8″. I cut out junk food, started weight training, and joined a boot camp class. Over 3 yrs, I dropped down to 210 lbs. Then I heard about Ray’s Thermogenex blog. I switched to a nutritarian diet minus the fruit, so I’ve been taking in somewhere around 800 calories a day. I was very comfortable with a cool house and with long walks in chilly weather. I hadn’t read all of the blog posts, so I wasn’t immediately aware of the contrast showers, and started out with straight cold showers. This may be correlation without causation, but that 1st cold shower had me shivering for a couple hrs. Now, I get chilly in my 68 degree house and even under the covers at night (to the point of shivering). This is unusual, because I’ve always been comfortable in the cold. I am however, pretty comfortable in the contrast showers. I’ve suspended my exercise programs since March 9th. Here are my results so far: I dropped from 210 lbs to 280 lbs in 6 weeks. Weight loss slowed for the next 2 weeks and I only lost 2lbs per week, leaving me at 276 lbs. I switched from 3 meals a day to one meal a day(same quantity of food though) last week and yesterday’s weigh in had me at 271 lbs. I have type 2 diabetes and my glucose readings that ranged from the mid 100s to the mid 200s, now range from the high 60s to the low 80s. I’m extremely happy with these results. Over the past 2 months, I came off of insulin andwas then weaned off of Metformin. I’m now prescription free and only have about 15 lbs left to lose. The questions I have are a) Why am I no longer comfortable in cooler temperatures? and b) Why was there a slow down in the rate of weight loss around weeks 6 & 7? I’d love to get some thoughts on this.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Paul!

      I think you meant 210 to 180! But nice work and fruits are fine and add a lot of variety to your menu! Hard to believe with all those “carbs” one can dump diabetes. Harder to believe the “high fat” people that remove the dietary CHO challenge and are exuberant when they’ve merely chased the symptom.

      I had the exact same results during my 6 week self experiment and it took me about 2 months to tolerate cool temps again. I have study that a lot so I really know my limits and I saw a significant drop in tolerance. That part is likely due to HPT-axis and its general conservation of energy. It may be that any BAT you had was consumed and needed to be replenished. It might be just an adaptive response to encourage conservation much like the hyper response after alcohol helps metabolize and dump it from the body.

      Will explain more about the apparent plateaus in our next paper. We are working on it now.

      I’m thrilled with your results. Congratulations. Keep us posted!!!


      • jonas sorensen says:

        I have somewhat similar experience when fasting. Ex I eat once or twice per day (works well for me), I can handle the contrast showers just fine after the initial run-in time, but every week for a day or so my cold sensitivity just kicks in hard. Shivering while in bed, feeling cold in 21C etc. The main “trigger” for me seems to be the fasting. If I fast for a day then the next day my sensitivity will be higher. Still, the contrast shower “high” is well worth it, pluss the recovery after hard training.

  21. Paul Shearer says:

    Thanks Ray. Yep, I did mean 180 lbs and not 280 (and current weight is 171 lbs) Sorry, I’ve been putting digits in the 200s for so long now, that it’s habit. . What surprised me with the diabetes, was my visit to the doctor that specializes in diabetes. She was impressed with the results, but said “I’m concerned that you’re not getting any protein”. This is from a doctor that “only” treats diabetes. I asked her where the cow got it’s protein. It was a real eye opener to learn that in the medical profession, they seem more concerned with treating symptoms than causes. Good to hear that the cool intolerance is normal and most likely temporary. Thanks again for all the info you’ve provided. It’s made a huge change in my life.

    • admin says:

      Yes. One of the problems of course is that in type 1 diabetes the real question is “where do you get your “glucose?” In the absence of insulin. The answer is gluconeogensis (converting amino acids – typically the non essential ones like alanine) into glucose. That lead to a huge push to get “enough protein” so that ingested amino acids “spared” the diabetics tissue.

      With that said, you aren’t a type one diabetic and alcohol/carbohydrates are ALSO “protein sparing” as the gluconeogenesis step never even occurs. You don’t need to be ketogenic in the first place.

      It’s a shame that type 2 “diabetes” is even labeled diabetes. What’s also a shame is that your physician likely has no idea how you were “cured” without limiting or even eliminating dietary CHO.

      Buy her a copy of End of Diabetes – Fuhrman. Tell her that it will work for every type 2 diabetic patient she has. Also say it will minimize the IU for her type 1 diabetics. Write her an amazing note of gratitude in the inside cover. She’s doing what she was taught – manage the disease and likely has never seen a client (patient) that actually followed through on dietary intervention.

      Assume she wants to know. Help pay it forward. You are an inspiration for doing it on your own! You have my respect.


  22. john smith says:

    Hi Ray

    I found your work through Penn’s Sunday school, then listened to your interview on Ice cream social.
    Very interesting research you’ve been doing I really like the blog. (one aside, 80 degrees is much to warm for an olympic pool. I’m sure that’s just a number that came off the top of your head, but 80 is comfy for casual swimming, but workout pools are generally 70-73)

    Just thought I’d share an observation that fits with your research. I live in China and where I live the college dorms have no climate controls and most people do not heat their apartments but instead wear heavier layers as they get colder. And of course the vast majority of Chinese people I see are skinny. they also tend to have a diet with more vegetables and less refined fats and sugar.

  23. Jason Pugh says:

    Ray, it’s been fascinating reading through this blog!

    I went a week eating (mostly) one meal a day of loads of greens, berries, and beans and threw in a potato every couple of days and I felt great and dropped weight. Then about 6 days in, I started feeling really groggy. Especially in evenings during the commute home I’d get sleepy. I tried upping the quantity of greens I’m eating and throwing some more starchy vegetables in but don’t think I have it beat. Just curious if you ran across this when you were initially cutting your addiction and how long this window lasted. Thanks for letting me pick your brain!

    • john smith says:

      I’ve decided to give it a try cold therapy, cutting calorically dense foods out of my diet along with cutting out eating when I’m not hungry … y’know generally what I understand Ray to have found from his research.

      Anyhow I’ve also felt myself getting sleepy when the sun goes down and I’ve also been waking early with lots of energy. I can’t know for sure, but it seems like my body is being more responsive to the internal clock or perhaps my internal clock is more responsive to the signals from the sun going down.

  24. Joe Flowers says:

    In the ‘no meat athlete’ interview you mention having 10-15 meals that kinda take over as your staples. Have you ever published these recipes? I’d love to know what they are. Thanks, Joe F (100lb overweight, age 43).

  25. Vamsidhar Ippagunta says:

    HEy RAy
    how is the study going it should be done by now. Can we get some info please

  26. David Harrington says:

    Hello Ray,
    I have access to a walk in freezers. Temps are -6 in one and 35f in the other. Question, If wearing shorts, wool socks, shorts, no shirt, gloves, and ear muffs, will there be a benefit, and if so how long would I need to stand in the freezer?
    Thanks for all your help.


  27. Wade Hougland says:

    Truly remarkable. Digesting all of this research you have compiled, whether past or present – even the impending future impact on mankind – Ray; is life changing at best, and is on par with some of the greatest scientific discoveries ever that affects mankind as a whole. So, hat’s off to you!

    I am honored to be on board (with my own personal case study utilizing your efforts) and as well, to be associated with this practical results based – yet scientific – scholarly peer group you have amassed.

    Personal Observation #1 – Walking into the grocery store and seeing food differently for the first time in my life (my age 53). Noticing the dramatic difference between “whole food” vs man-made “food stuff” – shopping the Ray Cronise way! (haha!) I’m on day 5 of “never” eating the same way again!

    Personal Observation #2 – Walking over to gather some bags of organic raw sunflower seeds and (same) pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, etc.; and realizing that all the oil my body will need is already nicely hidden within the raw seed(s) already! Nice going Ray! No more processed oils. I will use herbal seasoning, apple cider vinegar, lemons/limes, fermented soy and coconut amino sauces for flavorings.

    Personal Observation #3 – Walking over to gather my green and colored vegetables – fantastically realizing – that I don’t need to eat the muscle of another animal to get my protein. (of which I now know through you that animal protein is just a complex form of amino acids and vitamins; fats, etc.) All I need now is the amino acid/vitamin rich plant life that the animals eat in the first place; and now allow my own body to eat (digest) my own fat every day forever for fuel! This was staggering to me to say the least. Again to anyone reading! Now allowing my body to eat (digest) my own fat as it’s own fuel source by eliminating animal fat/protein and by consuming the food the animals eat in the first place (plant life – feeding my own muscles!) is revolutionary thinking Mr. Cronise!

    Will I ever eat a big fat chargrilled steak smothered in blue cheese, a grilled chicken breast covered in homemade barbecue sauce, or wild caught salmon smothered in a mango pepper sauce? Of course I will! I’m not stupid. LOL (BUT SPARINGLY).

    Now the praise: Ray you are a “practical genius” and through your God-given talents you will be helping me and I’m sure many thousands others to live a healthy life again – despite the unfortunate brain-washing the food industry has led us to believe otherwise over the last 100 years. Thank you for being a disruptor!

    The benefits you have bestowed to all who read your data is the best “pay-it-forward” human effort I have ever witnessed to date on this planet within this information age we live in. Health is a global issue. Thank you. Lord be with you. W.H.

  28. Wade Hougland says:

    Personal Recipe Note:

    Ok so I love to eat. And you can only eat so many salads right? So after reading Ray’s research about the benefit of the starch/fat break down process; including Ray’s research on the 2 week potato diet. I decided to bring heaven to earth by making organic mashed potato’s with organic all seasoning and fermented soy amino sauce. And then dipping my raw cut organic carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, celery, sweet potato strips, or any other raw vegetable; into my homemade mashed potatoes mix and heaven comes to earth everyday at 3pm – except for the days I fast! Enjoy! Thanks again Ray Cronise! W.H.

  29. Wade Hougland says:

    Special Note:

    If you’re intent on loosing weight by causing your own body to “eat it’s own fat”. Never (or rarely) mix animal protein (meat/fish) with starch based foods (potatoes, rice, etc.). However, you can mix starched based foods with whole vegetables all day long. [emphasis mine]

    Disclaimer statement: The above mentioned is my opinion based on common knowledge available generally; and is not endorsed “for” or “against” by Ray Cronise and/or this blog. I am not a licensed professional in the health and/or food industries. I am an informed amateur only sharing my personal eating experience. I just feel a sense of responsibility, that If I am going to glorify using organic mashed potatoes as a dipping sauce for raw vegetables – that I do so in the “spirit” of Mr. Cronise’ research and intent for this web blog. I do not want to be in conflict (whether I am or not) with any of Mr. Cronise’ intentions herein or otherwise stated by Ray Cronise. Thank you. W.H.

  30. Wade Hougland says:

    My new founded eating standards and potential weight loss are indebted to you Mr. Cronise. Thank you for all your precise and priceless research. W.H.

  31. Daniel Painter says:

    Hi Ray,
    I recently moved to Huntsville, AL. Do you know of a local place that can run alot of the bloodwork that you mention in your studies as wells as in 4 hour body? I really want to better understand how my body works/reacts to both food and excercise and alot of your work and Tim Ferris’s indicates you need to have a fundamental understanding of your individual composition as a baseline. Do you know anywhere in town that does these testings?

  32. brian braith says:

    Where you been Ray?! I wanted to ask everyone on the forum what we should call ourselves? people who enjoy cold thermogenesis, the subject the application etc. all the bio medical stuff is important and fascinating. but what about people who are the first to jump in mirror lake in Yosemite, crank the shower to the right instead of the left. enjoy cold mornings etc. who are we? Also, Ray, how much do you charge if I wanted you to run some research/experiments? Namely on caloric burn for a particular cold therapy technique. Respect!

  33. Marc McCann says:

    Hey Ray,
    I just stumbled upon your podcast with Rhonda Patrick and it really got my attention. I am into high intensity weight lifting and have been messing around with various diets trying to find what works best for my build/goal. I’ve found intermittent fasting has been pretty effective but I tend to eat from 5pm-midnight. In the podcast, it was mentioned that eating before bed was not “good.” I was wondering if you could expand upon the reasoning behind that.


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