Climate and temperature can increase your calorie burn, experts say

CINCINNATI -- Do you burn more calories in cooler weather or when it’s hot?

We talked with an expert about whether temperature or climate can affect how you burn calories.

According to the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, both prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and sweating to lower body temperature in the heat use more energy. 

Nancy Wilson, a Registered Dietitian with TriHealth explains.

“If you’re in extreme temperatures for long periods of time, the body does burn calories at a bit of a higher rate. The metabolism does go up slightly to compensate for that to try to cool the body down.”

It’s estimated that people living in warmer climates have a resting metabolic rate of 5 to 20 percent higher than those living in more temperate climates. But temperature and climate aren’t the only things that affect calorie burn.

“There are a lot of factors that affect metabolic rate, so your age, your height, your weight, your gender, how often you exercise, how much muscle you have.”

Obesity is a major issue in this country, and while health factors and climate can play a role, so can social factors. For example, U. S. News and World Report’s list of the 10 Fattest Cities has a combination of cities in warm climates, and cold climates.  But, interestingly, the fattest city in America, the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area in Texas, had the lowest per capita income. 

“As far as income, sometimes purchasing healthier foods and restaurants can be expensive, the salads and the things like that, so grocery shopping is usually the best way to go.”

So there are a lot of factors that play a role in how fast you burn calories, including climate. Wilson gave us some advice on ways to burn more calories:

- Prepare food at home

- Bring home meals to work

- Plan ahead

- Avoid the drive-thru

- More fruits and veggies… whole grains

- Unprocessed foods

- Go for a walk on your lunch break

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