A little over two years ago I became interested in metabolism. In the post Diet Recovery 2 and the “Turn Up the Heat” Experiment I explained my thinking at the time. Back then I was not a believer that a higher body temperature would benefit my health or that it was even possible. But I kept an open mind and began an experiment.
Using the ideas from Matt Stone’s books Diet Recovery 2 and Eat For Heat, I was able to increase my body temperature from 97.0 F to 98.5 F. Now that I’ve had and maintained this gain for over a year, I want to share my thoughts on this experiment.
Eat for Heat: The Metabolic Approach to Food and Drink by Matt Stone
Are Higher Temps Better?
Before I get into the how, allow me to cover the why. I was skeptical that a warmer temperature would mean much, but I feel calmer. My sleep is deeper. My fingers and toes which used to always be cold rarely are anymore.
I did gain weight during this period, but not much. Maybe 10-20 pounds, which isn’t a lot given my height (6’3 or 189 cm). And although a warmer body temperature should be better for one’s immune system, I got sick more frequently last year. But who knows if I would have been worse off with a lower-body temp.
This experiment has made me a believer that increasing one’s body temperature is beneficial. Better sleep and warm fingers sold me.
What I Believe Worked For Me
I tried several things and now that enough time has passed I can reflect on what I think worked best for me in raising my body temperature.
- Ending my Quantified Self experiment of daily tracking my sleep and headaches. Removing this self-inflicted stress was the greatest thing I’ve ever done to improve my health. Even greater than removing wheat or embracing HIT.
- Increasing carbs including sugar. Not only more rice, potatoes, and fruit, but ice cream and the occasional Mexican cola.
- Better sleep habits.
- Less water. I was already drinking less water, but I dropped it further.
- More salt.
- Lower PUFA. I continued consuming a low PUFA diet, which I suspect is a cumulative benefit. For a year or so I was strictly avoiding nuts and seeds, but I’m less convinced they are problematic. It is the processed PUFA that is the most important to tackle.
- Detaching from the outcome. After the first month when I saw no benefit, I stopped daily tracking, but I kept doing the experiment. Then when I took measurements at greater intervals I saw the progress. 97.0 –> 97.5 –> 97.9 –> 98.1 –> 98.4 –> 98.5 F
- Less fasting.
I never did get in the habit of eating carbs upon waking. I suspect it would have been beneficial, but given that I prefer to eat right before sleep, it wasn’t the best strategy for me.
Cause and Effect?
Did my higher body temp help me sleep better or did better sleep habits increase body temp? Did calmness increase the body temp or the other way around? No idea. There are a lot of variables at play here, so I hesitate to tell anyone to follow a simple recipe and they will get the same result as me.
I’ve done a lot of health experiments that turned out to be quite silly. Not this one. I do believe that my higher body temperature has been beneficial.
UPDATE July 2022: Seed Oils, Blood Donations, and Body Temperature
Jul 8, 2015 — 3:37 pm
Are you still drinking little water? What did reducing water do for you? My trainer told me to drink more, to help flush the waste from muscle breakdown after my HIT workouts. I’ve also read that it takes some load off of your liver because your kidneys need a certain amount of water to function, and if they don’t have enough water, your liver takes over. It is also a real inconvenience to drink a lot of water every day.
Jul 8, 2015 — 3:59 pm
My trainer’s approach is that you want to avoid drinking any fluids for at least 6 hours after a workout, so that the myoglobins which are the building blocks of muscle have time to adhere to the neuropathins, thus activating the anabolic process.
Jul 8, 2015 — 4:48 pm
@Diana – It is about finding or rediscovering your natural thirst after decades of being told to drink more water. Of course the more active you are or the hotter it is will increase your intake of water. The 2 books in the post go into more detail.
@rob – I’ve never heard that. That doesn’t sound right. I would guess there are millions of examples of people that finished a workout with a shake that gained muscle just fine.
Jul 8, 2015 — 5:49 pm
I stumble on your blog incidentally, and like the style of your writing … I have insomnia problems all my life since I was a baby and continue on all my life , so anything about improve sleep definitely get my attentions.
I thought high body temperature make it’s harder to fall to sleep… Most suggestions on how to sleep better recommends to low your body temperature by soaked feet in hot/warm water or drink warm fluid.. ( Chinese ) or warm shower before bed ( Wesrtern) which will low your body temperature to deal with changing in body base temperature … and cold feet soaking or cold ice bath before bed to even more lower body temperature ( Jack Kruse,? Dave Asprey? didn’t he brag sleep like a baby ? but he took tons of supplements & brain enhances stuffs maybe his brain is on fire daytime and at night totally shuts down…
Is it high temperature at night is a sign of high cortisone which make mentally more alert and that why most insomniacs have hormones problems low cortisone in the morning make them sluggish and high at night make them couldn’t fall to sleep easily or wake up often or fragment sleeps…
I noticed I sleep much better in the winter than in the summer, while there is less sun exposure in the winter than in the summer but maybe cloudy darker sky means hibernated time?
I did try the drink cocktail sugar and salt you mention , it did not help but make me more awake with my tummy rumble for more food and sour taste in my mouth ( I am prone to tooth caries so drink sugar stuff always leaves a sour taste afterward).
I saw an article in BBC News talked about a research from an university more people now a day have certain mutation gene which made them only needs 4 hours sleep at the most… but they feel well rested, in good health , no signs of body distress or bio-maker problems, function very well … Maybe I have this gene mutation but I don’t feel good like people in the research….
Sorry it is such a long post.. thank you for sharing your experiments.
Jul 8, 2015 — 5:57 pm
@phuongle – This was my experience. I did have good sleep at a lower temp, but I was more prone to waking too early. The sleep was deeper at the higher temps. As for falling asleep, I had no issues either way.
I’ve done lots of cold exposure and I’ve done saunas. I enjoy both and they each have their place. But I do know 98.5 feels better than 97.0. I feel calmer. The 2 books go into detail why that is.
My sugar/salt mix is a pinch under the tongue followed by a rinse of water. It is not a drink cocktail. If you have a sour taste in your mouth, you used too much.
Jul 9, 2015 — 7:31 am
Count me as another one of your new fans! This blog is written from an interesting angle, plus, I love the idea of self experimentation.
Regarding the new drinking protocol, I too sometimes wonder what we used to do before we started carrying around liter jugs of water. Use water fountains I guess. Also, I also wonder if the new grain and PUFA filled diets cause extra thirst.
About the books, I haven’t read them but I really can’t gain 10 to 20 pounds to increase my body temps! There has to be another way! Also, I think I may be weird — turn the tv on and I’m out like a light.
Jul 9, 2015 — 7:45 am
I slept better and was a lot less irritable (I won’t say I was actually calm!) last year when I was eating more. Now that I’m back to poverty fasting (eating meat again for the iron, which means less calories overall since I have limited funds) I’m back to being irritable and sleeping poorly. It wasn’t the weight gain per se, even though I gained weight, because I’m still heavier now. I’m guessing it was not being in a calorie deficit. My body temperature was still low during this time, and I was in terrible shape. But less irritable.
A lot of people recovering from eating disorders say that increasing their calories helps them stay calm and sleep better. I guess being in a deficit is stressful.
I look forward to when I can get both enough nutrients and enough calories, and can boost my metabolism (presumably that will do it) so I can see the effect.
Jul 9, 2015 — 8:23 am
@Cathy – As for the 10-20 pounds, I am 6’3 over 200# and went through a period of being under weight, so my experience may not apply to others.
Jul 9, 2015 — 9:04 am
@ Mas i did read that you were 6’3″ so you are correct — 10 -20 lbs. wouldn’t look the same as on a shorter person. Perhaps i should read Matt’s books, but i have read his site, and from comments it seemed most of the commenters were hypothyroid women. I do think carbs help hypothyroidism. Good post though.
Jul 10, 2015 — 12:22 am
@MAS – there’s a link above to Ari Whitten blog on metabolism – not sure if you’ve read his stuff? He’s got plenty more (probably better ones) too plus his books are good. He’s big into NEAT. If you haven’t read some of his stuff, worth you checking him out out of interest…
All the best
Jul 10, 2015 — 7:05 am
@Simon – Yes I’ve read 2 of Ari’s books. Reviewed one them. I’m a fan of both books. Thanks for sharing.
Jul 11, 2015 — 2:43 am
What about excercise ? Matt Stone advocates relaxing and not doing heavy work (at least on first stages). I guess, working out AND eating more carbs should do the trick as well, and it can add some muscles too . How long does it usually take to feel difference ?
After 2 years of paleo lowcarb and occasional IF, I had still some lovehandles although i was quite lean in upper body. I had hard time recovering from workouts, was low on energy etc. Reading Diet Recovery 2, I was hooked on his logic, becouse more one reads and understands in nutritieon, the less clear things really are… but still I am not 100% presuaded about sugar and carbs and junk food being that beneficial. Whats your take ?
Jul 11, 2015 — 8:10 am
@All – I just want to make it perfectly clear that this post is how I raised MY body temperature. It is not a recipe for you. We are all unique. Do your own research. Some ideas will benefit you more than me and vice versa.
@Lubomirus – For me, I did not change my exercise, which consists of mostly walking and 1-2 days a week of brief HIT like lifting (~15 min). Most of the Paleo Crossfitters I see exercise WAY TOO MUCH. So do the endurance athletes. They do not allow sufficient time for recovery. That is not good for metabolism.
Carbs are wonderful and great for metabolism. Remember they are a signal of abundance. Paleo got hijacked by the low carb cult. A few have broken free from the bad science, but most haven’t.
As for sugar, I did a post on it here:
Junk food is a what I would consider a deep arsenal tool. It isn’t for me, but it might be beneficial to a chronic dieter with a super low metabolism. I also think Matt uses junk food as a tool to overcome food obsession. So although I would never eat fries and Big Mac, someone that is super neurotic about food with a dog slow metabolism might benefit. Personally, I’d just eat ice cream.
Jul 16, 2015 — 2:16 pm
Love this post – and the comments – and Matt’s books!
I had the same success raising my temps after reading “E4H”.
I LOVE being warm!!! (which is TOTALLY new for me. I remember being cold when 14 years old, on a hot 95F day… as soon as I stopped moving, I curled up with a blanket)
I, too, REFUSED to gain weight (like Cathy)… and was successful with just maintaining my current (over)weight even when indulging my love of cheese, chocolate and salt, and cutting back on water consumption. I was always pushing myself to drink more water, so it was a relief to hear that I didn’t need to anymore. I do find myself becoming dehydrated more, now, though… so I may have gone a bit too far the other way on the water issue. 🙂 I do actually LISTEN to my body signals, now, so I do drink when I’m thirsty.
Anyone looking to raise body temps should read Matt’s books – and start tracking temperature 4-6 times a day to see what effects YOUR temperature (we’re all unique!). Then you can start your own experiment. Not everyone can OD on salt (real salt, not the iodized stuff, no one should OD on THAT stuff) without side effects… but since I’ve started my experiment, my blood pressure is nearly too LOW (97/65 today).
As for most everything else… everything in moderation… if you find yourself doing TOO much of anything (dieting, eating, fasting, or exercising included), you probably need to step back, relax and re-group.
Since I started my “health first-lose weight second” experiment 15 months ago, I’m down about 6 lbs and one dress size, which isn’t much… but I did it all without starving or even denying myself dessert (when I wanted it). I also haven’t suffered from allergies since then, and only had ONE cold (while on vacation, eating and drinking too much of the wrong things, of course!). I’m SOLD!
… I also added in Halie Pomroy’s Fast Metabolism Diet guidelines (loosely)… which has been a big help in deciding what to eat for complete nutrition – all without dropping my temps!
Jul 16, 2015 — 7:52 pm
@Tina – Thanks for sharing. You bring up a point I should have made in the post. Once your temperature is up, it is easier to lose weight.
Jul 17, 2015 — 12:56 am
One question about Ice cream though. Combination of simple sugars and fat in ice cream worries me becouse of “pizza effect” – delayed blood glucose spike. It is not very desired, is it ?
Jul 17, 2015 — 7:33 am
@Lubomirus – We tend to view foods and good or bad, so we often miss context. In the context of this post, the problem is a low body temperature. That could very well be a result of eating too clean, overtraining, having a stressful life or a combination of those item.
Ice cream is a tool. It is also highly nutritious way to deal with that problem. The benefits that come from deeper sleep and a higher metabolism *I believe* will exceed the benefits of eating clean with a low metabolism. Once metabolism is restored, you can put that tool away and just pull it out when needed.
Sep 23, 2015 — 9:04 am
This post and comments were so helpful and so comforting. I too was fascinated by Matt’s book and immediately started applying the concepts even did one and one consultation with him. In the end just couldn’t see it through b/c of weight gain. I’m ashamed to admit–Vanity. I would love to be warm, however at what cost. I keep insisting that there has to be a better way, but I haven’t found it yet. I’m excited about trying this“E4H”. MAS, are you familiar with this? Although, I really think I am going to have to bite the bullet on this one and do whatever it takes
Sep 23, 2015 — 10:29 am
What is E4H???
Sep 23, 2015 — 10:43 am
@Isabel – E4H = Eat For Heat by Matt Stone. Yes, I’ve read both that book and Diet Recovery 2.