My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2nd January 2010

Had a pretty ropie nights sleep, son has got a cold and a tickly cough - and he spent ALL night coughing :-(

I dragged myself out of bed at 7:30 and changed into multiple layers of cycling gear, it was bloomin cold out again!
0900 Sunny -2.1 °C SW 9 mph
40 km 1017 hPa, Rising
1000 Sunny -1.2 °C SSW 8 mph
25 km 1017 hPa, Rising
1100 Sunny 0.4 °C SW 6 mph
30 km 1018 hPa, Rising
1200 Sunny intervals 1.6 °C SW 7 mph
30 km 1018 hPa, Rising

I decided to stick the camera on the helmet mount and record the whole chain gang, but sorry to say it is a very boring film so I wont bore you with it :-)

Sometimes I do wonder about the sanity of cycling in sub-zero temperatures on some very icy roads, but I guess all the times I get away with it without injury I will continue.

I found the ride really hard work today, I guess it may be cumulative fatigue from the weeks riding, I had thought that cold weather cycling used more calories than the equivalent hot weather ride, but I came across some interesting articles that proved me wrong...

Here is the complete article I found at...

Does the cold weather make it harder to get in shape?

Now that winter is well and truly here (in England, at least), I've had a few questions from people wanting to know whether the cold weather makes it harder to get in shape.

I think it does.

This depends, of course, on where you live. What you're about to read assumes that it gets colder and darker in the winter, and lighter and hotter in the summer.

You see, there's plenty of research to show that your body will respond very differently to the same program of diet and exercise in the summer than it does in the winter.

Here's why...

Firstly, the temperature in which you exercise affects the number of fat calories your body burns for energy. Some evidence for this comes from a trial published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise [5]. Nine male subjects cycled for 90 minutes in several different temperatures.

• Minus 10 degrees Celsius

• 0 degrees Celsius

• 10 degrees Celsius

• 20 degrees Celsius

The number of fat calories burned for energy was reduced at both minus 10 degrees Celsius (0.15 grams of fat per minute) compared with 10 degrees Celsius (0.35 grams of fat per minute) and 20 degrees Celsius (0.40 grams of fat per minute). Previous research at Kent State University also shows an increase in protein breakdown when you exercise in the cold [1].

This is not the only study to look at the effect of cold air on fat metabolism. And the results are far from conclusive. In fact, during submaximal exercise in the cold, fat metabolism has been reported to be elevated, unchanged or reduced.

Other studies have combined whole body precooling before the exercise. This can reduce core body temperature, leading to a "shivering" response. It might explain why some trials show that the cold actually increases the amount of fat burned for energy.

In this study, the normal rise in core temperature associated with exercise stopped the subjects from shivering. That's why I think it's more relevant to people like you and me who exercise regularly.

Skin temperature also affects growth hormone levels. In fact, simply taking a hot (38-39 degrees Celsius) bath for 25 minutes will raise growth hormone levels more than ten-fold [4].

A single surge in growth hormone increases both the number of fat calories your body burns for energy and your metabolic rate [3]. That's why growth hormone therapy often leads to a reduction in fat mass (but it doesn't mean you can lose fat sitting in the bath — sorry).


Hibernating animals (those that sleep during the winter) tend to store fat before they hibernate. One of the ways they accomplish this is via an increase in the activity of enzymes (such as lipoprotein lipase, known also as LPL) that promote the storage of fat.

More interesting still, LPL levels in humans also rise and fall in tandem with the seasons [2]. Researchers from the University of Colorado studied a group of 12 women and 6 men in both the summer and winter.

Summer was classed as May through August. Winter was classed as November through February. LPL activity in both muscle and fat increased during the winter, and dropped during the summer.

Winter also sees a change in the activity of several fat-burning and muscle-building hormones.

For example, cortisol levels reach a low point in the summer [7]. Not only is cortisol associated with the storage of abdominal fat, it's also been linked to all kinds of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and depression. Cortisol may also weaken your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to colds and flu.

Testosterone, a powerful hormone which helps you build muscle and lose fat, tends to peak in the summer and early autumn. It also reaches a low point in the winter and early spring [6].


There's also evidence to show that you'll find it harder to control your appetite in the winter rather than the summer. Some studies, for instance, show a link between the "winter blues" and a drop in serotonin levels [7].

Serotonin is a chemical that helps messages pass from one nerve cell to another. It helps different parts of your brain "talk" to each other.

When serotonin drops below a certain level, your brain "thinks" that your body is starving and "tells" you to start eating. In fact, some researchers believe that there's direct link between obesity (due to overeating) and decreased brain serotonin levels.

Overweight people with low levels of serotonin feel almost compelled to eat more. Once they get their carbohydrate "fix", serotonin levels rise, and they feel better again — albeit temporarily.

Dr Albert Stunkard, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks that people with an almost uncontrollable urge to raid the fridge late at night are doing it to help themselves sleep by boosting serotonin levels.

In other words, some people who suffer from the "winter blues" may use foods high in carbohydrate to make themselves feel better.

The bottom line is that many people will find it harder to get in shape in the winter rather than the summer. This is normal. During the winter months, it's perfectly reasonable to expect a slower rate of fat loss and muscle gain.

I guess that sort of explains why the weight loss slows down over the winter, not really sure why I end up feeling more tired after a ride though.

The Garmin had today's ride as 40.84 miles in 2 hours 20 minutes with an average speed of 17.5 mph, route here...


Lee said...

Hi John,

Nice blog, funnily enough I've been thinking how much harder I find winter cycling, a recent 15 mile ride in freezing conditions was so much harder than my 30 mile training route, admittedly it was slightly hillier but not that much.

Please feel free to drop in on my blog when you get a moment

All the best


John Berry said...

Thanks Lee.... I always find it so much harder going in the winter, I am certain I am solar powered :-)

Good luck with your Big Bike ride....I was in the same boat as you a year and a half ago, buying a bike is an interesting problem, I also found that I underestimated the budget required!

Post a Comment