Will Ditching the Christmas Sweater Help You Lose Weight?

You’re going to eat too much this holiday season, and you’re going to gain weight. But when it’s time to drop the fat, your body might be hiding a little secret that doesn’t involve signing up for a gym membership on January 2nd that you won’t ever use.

I’m morally opposed to any and all weight loss tips, but the folks over at the American Chemical Society’s Reactions channel have made a pretty compelling video explaining how shivering can help you burn fat. It’s all thanks to a hormone caused irisin, and how it affects our cells.

Our bodies have two kinds of fat cells: brown fat cells and white fat cells. The white fat cells serve as cushioning and to store energy, while the brown ones make heat and burn calories thanks to their glut of mitochondria, the much-loved powerhouses of the cell. Now apparently, if you take off the ugly Christmas sweater in the cold, your brain tries to manually generate heat by shivering, causing muscles contractions and irisin production. That irisin turns the squishy white fat cells into the hard-working brown ones as if you were exercising.


The video claims that fifteen minutes of cold burns as many calories as an hour of exercise. You might also get frostbite and die, but hey, you’ll lose weight and who doesn’t want to be skinny, am I right?


Former Gizmodo physics writer and founder of Birdmodo, now a science communicator specializing in quantum computing and birds

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Just exercise a little bit, people

It’s not tough. There are VERY few excuses that can’t be overcome, especially the common ones (work / school / kids). Suck it up and get your ass moving, just twice a week.