Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Moderators: melkor

Do I burn more calories running in the cold?

Quote  |  Reply

I run 5-7K six mornings a week. Now it is December and it's below freezing outside. Am I burning more calories than I was in the summer and fall months? If I am is it a significant amount? How should I compensate for wearing YakTrax which make me work harder for the same locomotion... BTW I love running in 3 inches of virgin snow at 6am! Awesome!!

12 Replies (last)

"You burn fewer calories when you exercise in cold weather than you do when it's hot. The hotter it is, the more extra work your heart has to do to prevent you from overheating. More than 70 percent of the energy produced by your muscles during exercise is lost as heat. So the harder you exercise, the hotter your muscles become. In hot weather, not only must your heart pump extra blood to bring oxygen to your muscles, it must also pump hot blood from your heated muscles to your skin where heat can be dissipated.

On the other hand, in cold weather, your heart only has to pump blood to your muscles and very little extra blood to your skin to dissipate heat. Your muscles produce so much heat during exercise that your body does not need to produce more heat to keep you warm. So your heart works harder and you burn more calories in hot weather."

Hi Got twins, Amys message is good but you can and will burn more fat in the cold under the right conditions. Think like a skiier. If the body is cold it has two challenges, first is avoiding hypothermia and that is when it pushes blood and energy into a core area and attempts to slow down your use of oxygen and survive. Swimming in icey water would cause this to occur, but if you are very active and pushing the body like running in the rain, skiiing and feeding it and you are not in a shock situation like hypothermia, your burn ratio will be greater than that of a one working out at room temperature.  Why? because your body is trying to push oxygen into the limbs being pushed, while it is attempting to keep them warm. It is a huge caloric expenditure. Runners that run in the rain, do not sick as one would think provided they keep moving and do not cool down in the rain.

Bottom line, there are lots of other ways to burn fat.Example Workout on an empty stomach and you will tripple your fat burn. Don't eat for about 40 minutes after the work out  and you will continue to burn fat.  I am about to go to the gym on an empty stomach, plus a cup of coffee to max out my caloric burn and get rid of the excess calories from xmas dinner.  I hope this helps

Best wishes and good luck with the twins


iron-mike- with all due respect, I have heard the opposite of almost everything you suggested. It has been strongly advised to eat before and after a workout - the body needs carbs and protein for the energy exertion. To deprive the body of nutrients for energy, and then to tax it by working out - doesn't sound healthy.

About burning energy in the cold - I am not following your explanation. Exercising and raising the heart rate takes care of any potential hypothermia from being outside in the cold. It's fairly effortless - if you crank up the heart rate and push blood to all organs and to muscles, you will stay warm. That's why you get warm when you exercise, even though it's cold out. It does not burn off more calories.

Original Post by gottwins12:

If I am is it a significant amount?



Sully is right as is annie, you burn more in hot weather because of heat dissipation but at 5-7K you won't really notice it much. Cold weather running is still a great thing for your body so keep it up!

No one is wrong here. You burn more in hot weather and in cold weather.  Your body is trying to maintain homeostasis (temp) both ways.

Original Post by re_newed:

No one is wrong here. You burn more in hot weather and in cold weather.  Your body is trying to maintain homeostasis (temp) both ways.

The old belief was that cold weather running burned more because it was trying to heat the body but that just wasn't true. Cold weather exercise doesn't burn as much as hot weather running but it's generally not a huge different. Note, if you actually shiver you will burn more but most people won't shiver when running, and if they are they should probably put on more clothing since they are flirting with hypothermia. ml

Personally, I still sweat quite a bit while running, even in -20 temps.  But if I dress any lighter, my hands and head can get uncomfortably cold.  I'll still sweat through a sweatshirt, though.  My legs are fine with just a thin pair of tights on.

My point is that even at -20, my body is still trying to disappate heat.


Small differences in caloric expenditure that might occur due to thermal stress are usually insignificant and can also be offset by reduced performance which can occur because of those same conditions.

There is some misunderstanding about the cause of shivering as it relates to cold weather exercise. The body's thermoregulatory defense against cold is mediated by internal temperature and not by the heat production in the body per se. Thus, shivering is observed even during exercise if core temperature is low. As a result, exercise oxygen consumption is proportionally higher (due directly to shivering) in cold stress than it is during the same exercise in a warmer environment.

Working in any significant heat environment will result in a deterioration of work performance that will lower overall caloric expenditure.

Now wearing different footwear, or running through snow can increase overall caloric expenditure because of the increased work involved. But, once again, this often results in a decreased speed, which offsets the increase caused by the mechanical inefficiency.

Cold activates brown fat which raises your matabolism. Running in cold burns more calories! I knew it!!! I'm not crazy, there's a good reason that my weight loss increases when I run in the winter months vs. running in the summer months!!

"Cold-induced thermogenesis and diet-induced

thermogenesis have recently been shown to be

related, suggesting that they have a similar underlying


6" 8718

wow, gottwins, thanks for following up on this old thread!  I find this very inspiring, given all of the cold weather we have gotten.

I do believe that running in the snow gives you a better overall workout because of all of the additional work required to balance.  However adzak's observation that one also runs slower is definitely true for me!

I am so with you on the invigorating impact of new snow!

Original Post by gottwins12:

Cold activates brown fat which raises your matabolism. Running in cold burns more calories! I knew it!!!

Not to snow on your parade, but humans have tiny amounts of brown fat, so the amount it raises your metabolism isn't significant.  And like your article says, the more overweight you are, the less brown fat you have.

People who exercise in cold tend to eat more, according to one study.

12 Replies