What is thermogenesis?

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Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, and the content of this website was created for informational purposes only. Such content is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.

We’ve previously covered starvation mode / starvation response, metabolic damage, and the thermic effect of food. This week we’ll go over a simpler subject: thermogenesis. As the name implies, thermogenesis is the generation of heat by organisms, and the main purpose of such heat generation is to maintain a stable body temerature. As you may expect, thermogenesis is common to warm-blooded (endothermic) organisms, and it occurs due to the “burning up” of calories.

In last week’s post, we talked about one example of thermogenesis: the thermic effect of food. As a reminder, the thermic effect of food is the amount of energy that is consumed in order to process whatever it is that we have eaten, and as the name suggests, such energy ends up in the form of heat. Other forms of thermogenesis should readily come to mind: running a fever, shivering, exercising (in addition to exercise itself burning up energy), and all the things that you or your body does while not enjoying a nice fever, eating, exercising, shivering or sleeping.

As is the case with the thermic effect of food, the other examples of thermogenesis require calories to run (thermodynamics cannot be bested). In a very simplified way, you could say that we are all ovens that are constantly burning, and the rate at which we burn is determined by the activities that we perform at a given time.

Does this all mean that if you want to lose weight you should live in Siberia, naked, constantly exercising, and with a fever? I guess you could, I mean, even Rocky Balboa did something similar:


Of course no, there’s no need to be silly. As we’ve seen in previous posts, eating less comes with a decrease in body weight. What the current post is getting at is that movement means an increase in the amount of calories burned. In other words, a combination of both should be a part of you weight loss toolkit: eat less move more, as they say.

This post on thermogenesis has made me think about writing on how carbohydrates, proteins and lipids are metabolized by the body. None of that will come in the next week or the weeks that follow, because all of those subjects seem very intricate and I don’t really like chemistry that much.

Hope you enjoyed this post, see you next week! If you liked this post and would like to see similar material, please visit the Rebuttals to Fatlogic section of the blog.

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