Do you ever feel like your stomach is cold sometimes when you are exercising?
You may wonder if this means you are burning fat effectively.
We will now talk about what happens to our body when we exercise, and if having a cold stomach means that we are in fat burning mode.
Let’s dive in!
Does a Cold Stomach Mean you are Burning Fat?
A cold stomach may not mean you are burning fat, per say. What it does mean during exercising is that your body is responding naturally to the exercise, or stress, that you are putting onto it.
Let me emphasize, this is good stress.
This happens in a pretty amazing way, and the brain, heart, lungs, muscles, and skin are all involved.
What happens when I exercise?
When you perform cardiovascular exercise, your body begins to divert blood to more important areas needed when exercising, such as skeletal muscles and lungs. Your metabolic rate will rise and heat will also be produced.
We can elaborate on this process a bit.
Blood flow to the brain is increased during exercise. This provides the brain with more oxygen and nutrients.
The brain begins to amp up on neurotransmitters, like serotonin, dopamine and even GABA.
What is GABA you may ask?
GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate communication between nerve cells in the brain. GABA is short for gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is responsible for inhibiting, or slowing down, nerve impulses.
Low levels of GABA has been linked to anxiety and depression.
This is one of the reasons that exercising can cause us to feel a sense of well being and even euphoria during and after we work out.
It is due to the release of these neurotransmitters.
The brain also controls the rest of the process we will talk about next.
As your adrenaline levels begin to increase, this will then cause your heart to begin to beat faster so that you can effectively pump blood to the body systems in need.
Exercise is a great way to maintain heart health because it gives our heart a workout as well, as you can see.
Exercise helps to strengthen the heart muscle and improve blood circulation. When the heart muscle is strong, it can pump more blood with each beat.
This means that the heart doesn’t have to work as hard, which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease.
Exercise also helps to improve blood circulation by making the arteries and veins wider. This allows blood to flow more freely and reduces the pressure on the heart.
In addition, exercise helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are important for preventing heart disease. As you can see, there are many good reasons to make exercise a part of your daily routine for heart health.
Obviously, your lungs begin to work much harder during exercise, as you can probably tell by the increase in your respiratory rate (how fast you are breathing) as well as the fact that breathing may become more heavy.
This is because your lungs are attempting to bring in more oxygen so that the rest of your body can be well oxygenated throughout this process.
The oxygen that the lungs are bringing in is going to be sent to the muscles as they will need increased oxygen as they are working harder.
Capillaries in your muscles open wider, increasing blood flow to the muscles drastically, which is carrying the essential oxygen.
Muscles also release lactic acid as a byproduct as they breakdown glucose in your body tissues for energy.
During intense exercise, there may not be enough available oxygen available to complete the process, so this is why lactic acid is made.
Your body has the ability convert this lactate to energy without using oxygen if it needs to.
You are probably already aware that your skin plays a role as well. You begin to sweat. This is your body’s way of trying to cool itself down.
When we sweat, heat is lost through evaporation into the air.
Sweating also rids the body of toxins.
How does my body heat up during exercise?
Our body heats up during exercise because of the complex processes mentioned above. This is all due to increased energy that is being produced by our body when we exercise.
Our body heating up is known as a process called thermogenesis.
We will now elaborate on thermogenesis some more, because it is the reason that our body is able to burn calories in the first place, and is responsible for why you may have a cold stomach.
When you exercise, the body goes through a process called thermogenesis.
Thermogenesis is when the body produces heat which also burns calories. This process is regulated by your sympathetic nervous system.
Yes you heard right, burning calories is due to thermogenesis.
It is basically the reason why our bodies heat up and we begin sweating when we work out.
The beneficial effects of thermogenesis are not just limited to helping us burn fat.
It also helps to improve our mood, cognitive function, and energy levels.
Exercise Associated Thermogenesis (EAT)
Exercise Associated Thermogenesis, known as EAT, is thermogenesis that is caused by exercising.
This is the main reason why we feel so heated up when we exercise.
Our body is producing heat because of all the energy we are expending.
There is also another form of thermogenesis related to physical activity, known as NEAT..but I will not delve into that as it isn’t really pertinent for those of you actively exercising.
Our body produces heat (burns calories) not only from exercising, but just from eating.
This is a type of thermogenesis known as the thermal effect of food.
Yes, digesting food produces heat and burns calories, it is one of the reasons why calculating maintenance calories and your BMR is so important.
We are able to burn calories without even exercising. Who would have thought?
How Does This Make My Stomach Feel Cold?
We discussed that our body heats up, but now we need to talk about how it will cool down.
Your body needs to get rid of this extra heat in order to keep body temperature from rising to an unsafe level.
We talked about sweating. Sweating is our bodies way of releasing heat.
We also need to remember that blood flow is increased to the skin as well in conjunction with sweating. This can cause some areas of our body to feel warmer than other areas.
When we are done with exercising, the metabolic heat production does stop, but our body will continue to try to cool itself down for a little while after we are done.
Our body will continue to sweat for a while after we stop exercising until the extra heat created is released into the air with evaporation of sweat.
This can cause your stomach to feel cold because blood is diverted to other areas to cool them down, making it seem as if your stomach feels colder than other parts of your body.
This is likely because it is colder than other parts of your body.
Next time you feel your stomach is cold, touch your legs or your head. I bet you these areas feel warmer than your stomach does.
Does my cold stomach mean I am burning fat?
So, does this chilly stomach mean you are burning fat? Potentially.
What it definitely does mean is that you are likely exercising effectively.
You are putting enough stress on your body through exercising to burn calories through thermogenesis.
What I am trying to say here is that having a cold stomach does not always mean you are burning fat, but you could be burning fat if you are pairing this awesome exercising you are doing with the amounts of food you are eating.
Pairing exercise that is effective with a healthy calorie deficit could definitely lead you on the course to burning fat, but you must make sure your diet AND exercise are in check.
Pair Your Exercise with a Calorie Deficit
In order to burn fat, exercising is a good idea, but you will also need to make sure you are in a caloric deficit.
As I talk about quite frequently, a calorie deficit is achieved when you burn more calories than you consume.
You are able to do this by finding your maintenance calorie amount which includes your BMR, and creating a deficit.
You do this by eating less than your maintenance calories. An easy trick to do this without a online calculator is to take your goal weight and multiply by 12.
Remember, this is an estimate. So, you can try eating this amount for one week or even two weeks, and if you do not lose or gain weight, this is likely close or spot on to your maintenance calorie amount.
All you would need to do now is subtract 200-500 calories from this number to be in a calorie deficit.
If you are a person that enjoys exercise and exercises frequently, it may be a better idea for you to calculate your TDEE instead of just your BMR alone.
TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expenditure is calculated by adding your BMR (calories you burn just by existing, breathing, cell processes, etc) to your calories burned through exercise.
You can then create a calorie deficit by eating 200-500 calories less than this number every day.
You can learn more about creating a calorie deficit by reading about it a little bit more in my other articles below!
I hope this article helped you understand a little more about what it means when your stomach is cold after exercising.
It is normal to have a cold stomach after working out and while it does not necessarily mean you are burning fat, if you are effectively exercising and in a calorie deficit, you will be well on your way to burning fat in no time.
If you want to learn more about how to burn fat through exercise and how to become friends with food, rather then become enemies with it, make sure to read my other articles on the topic!
As always, thanks for reading!