Mitochondria Helps You Stay Warm and Burn Fat

How Mitochondria Helps You Stay Warm (even in this weather!)There is a timely and informative post this morning at Backdoor Survival about hypothermia. Informative even though it neglected to mention how mitochondria helps you stay warm, but we’ll get to that.

Timely because it’s 3.7° F here right now and we could actually suffer this horror in our own backyard. Yikes.

When we first moved to Kentucky — which we all considered the frigid north — I realized I am seriously afraid of freezing to death in wintah (how they say winter in Taxachusetts where Hal is from). Kentucky winners (how we say it here) are famously mild, average low being 23 degrees. Today’s 3.7° temp is famously off the charts.

mitochondria helps you stay warm

But, hey, 3.7° is no sweat for this hardy soul. This morning, I was outside for an hour mucking the chickens and installing a homemade heated waterer. (Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow, right? I guess I like a sense of urgency.) Anyway, for someone who’s lived in the tropics/sub-tropics for the last 35 years, I was dressed for below freezing and quite comfortable.

It is a huge relief to discover we’ll survive frigid temps because it looks like we are in Kentucky for the duration (at least for the second fifty years). I do NOT want to dread an entire four months.

You know, the ironic thing is, here I am, dreading all this cold when, in reality, you can dress for it and be perfectly comfortable. On the other hand, you can’t dress for heat unless you can wear an air conditioner. In the summer (or the tropics), there is nothing you can do but go out and sweat. In really hot weather, you simply cannot make yourself comfortable working outside.

Wow. A plus for winter. It is completely surprising that I came up with this all on my own. An historic moment, time and date noted: 1/6/14 at 11:02 am. Heh.

Mitochondria Helps You Stay Warm?

The backdoor prepper article had essential, useful info and I made note of all of it. However, there is one more essential item to take care of in prepping for cold weather and that’s your mitochondria. Yeah, you have, like, a zillion of ‘em. What are they and how do they keep you warm? Let me explain. My explanation is the non-scientific plain English one but, don’t worry, you’ll find links to scientific ones.

My mitochondria learning comes from owning a fitness business in Key West for 17 years, which required pretty constant training and study. We were all about increasing the number and “fitness” of our mitochondria because they are all about burning fat. Burning fat is the number one reason people workout. We say it’s for “fitness” but it’s really all about weight loss and being hot. Sexy hot, not sweaty hot.

What Are Mitochondria?

They are the little fat-burning machines that live in all your cells, including your muscles’.

What Do Mitochondria Do?

They turn your food into fuel (scientists call this ATP*), producing heat as they eat. The more muscle you have and the bigger and stronger they are, the more mitochondria you have. The more mitochondria you have, the more fat you burn for energy and heat 24/7. Mitochondria determine your metabolism.

*ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is considered by biologists to be the energy currency of life. It is the high-energy molecule that stores the energy we need to do just about everything we do.

Mitochondria Burn Fat Just Like That?

Well, like all fires, mitochondria need one more thing (besides high-quality fuel) to burn that fuel at all, much less efficiently. It’s the same ingredient every fuel needs to burn and that’s oxygen. Somehow, you need to get that O2 to your fat-burning machines so they keep the fire going. It starts with an inhale, then your heart, blood, lungs — your cardiovascular system — deliver the goods to the furnaces.

A working cardio system makes sense here, yes? That’s what aerobic exercise gives you: a fit cardio system. The more aerobically fit you are, the more efficiently your mitochondria can burn fat. The stronger you are, the more mitochondria you have.

In fact, if you aren’t aerobically fit, your mitochondria will give up on burning fat and burn sugar. This will not keep you warm OR thin. There’s a world of hurt in not keeping your mitochondria fit. Just one example is in this short video with Dr. Terry Wahls who famously cured her MS by healing her mitochondria:

Q: Where Do I Start With My Mitochondria?

A: Here’s the least you can do to stay warm and burn fat: eat high quality fuel, do some weight-bearing exercise, and some cardio exercise. It doesn’t take much!

At the very least, add good quality fats to your diet and walk briskly 40-60 minutes a week: 10 minutes 4-6 days, 20 minutes 2-3 days, whatever you will do. Your mitochondria will repay that effort by helping you stay warm.

For exercise, I’ve been doing HIIE (High Intensity Interval Exercise) in short spurts called Tabatas. I love these: very effective, not hard to get yourself to do and fun. Here’s my Tabata Training Workout.

Happy New Year, everyone! Stay warm.

Sally Oh

Sally Oh lives in the Bluegrass area of Kentucky with her husband of 21 years and two gigantic sons. She is a Weston A. Price chapter leader and blogs to meet like-minded farm food freedom advocates. She's hoping you join us in the real food rEVOLution!

If you are here in KY and want to join our in-person fun, sign up on Meetup or like us on Facebook.

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