Dinner / Fitness / Health

can the heat melt calories?

Finally. The whole family is reunited here on Oahu! David, our Subaru Forrester made landfall today. We got his safety inspection already but still need get him registered with Hawaii plates. We won’t wait long before taking care of this because with an out of state tag, you may as well ask for a ticket.

We made it to the gym on post for first time today. Let’s just say it’ll take a little getting used to. It has a weird open courtyard and you have to walk the perimeter to get to the various fitness rooms. I stuck to the cardio room today because I didn’t feel all that adventurous. About 5 minutes into my run, the power in the whole facility went out for no apparent reason – and it didn’t come back on for 50 minutes. Plus, with the island’s high humidity, most of the machines (even ones that look new) are rusty. Great first impression. The humidity also means it’s extremely HOT, but that’s okay; I prefer to leave the gym with a wet t-shirt.

The heat got me thinking … how do high temperatures and humidity affect calorie expenditure? Do you burn more calories exercising in a hot climates? What about cold climates?

To my dismay, I’ve had a tough time finding reputable online public articles on the topic. Mostly just blogs and forums – and who on earth would believe anything on a blog? Oh wait.

Livestrong.com does provide a brief discussion on the subject. In a nut shell, extreme heat and extreme cold can affect calorie expenditure. From what I gather, the reason is because the body has to work harder to maintain it’s normal internal temperature. In the extended heat exposure, our BMR (basal metabolic rate) does increase moderately. Heat causes a jump in heart rate which leads to more blood pumped to the skin. The end result? Sweat. But don’t be fooled, short spurts of high heat (like a hot 1-hr workout) just make it feel more difficult to exercise because our heart beat is faster than we’re used to … not because we’re melting away fat. On the contrary, the cold can increase BMR enough to move the calorie ticker. Chilly temps cause blood vessels to constrict and muscles to twitch allowing them to produce enough heat to keep our bodies functioning properly. According to livestrong, cold temperatures affect caloric output more quickly and at higher rates than hot temps. Bummer for me, but that’s good news for all of you in the wintery weather! Next time it snows, bundle up and go for a outside run/walk! I’m going to be looking further into this topic and I’ll be sure to update you with what I find.

After a sweaty workout, we scooted over to the oversized PX – basically the Army version of Target. The store was at least three times the size of the one we left in Arizona. Unfortunately, even with it’s grandiose aisles, we couldn’t find any christmas lights! Well, we did, but they were especially hideous … the promise of a revealed tree has been post-poned.


a taste of home

Despite the disappointment of an unlit tree, I somehow got inspired to cook in our 3-ft kitchen. I made a tweaked version of my mom’s amazing lemon chicken and some steamed broccoli.

Lemon Chicken

non-stick cooking spray
1-2 Tbsps olive oil (or butter)
2 boneless skinless chicken breast, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup whole wheat flour (white flour works too!)
1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, quartered (optional)

In a large ziploc bag, pour flour and lemon pepper seasoning. Place chicken in bag, seal and shake until completely coated. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Heat garlic on medium-low for 1-2 minutes until aromatic and slightly browned. Turn up the heat to medium, add no more than a Tbsp of oil to the pan and brown one side of chicken – about 4 minutes. Add rest of oil and flip to brown second side another 4 minutes. Squeeze the juice of one whole lemon in pan and cover for 5 minutes. Flip again and squeeze remaining 1/2 lemon (and a little water if the pan is dry). Cover again and cook until juices run clear and insides are white. Remove from pan but do not wash pan yet.

In the past, I have used a beaten egg to wet the chicken before dredging in flour. I attempted without tonight, and it tasted just as good!

Steamed Broccoli

1 head broccoli
2 Tbsp water
pan drippings
salt and pepper to taste

In a microwaveable bowl, add broccoli and 2 Tbsp of water. Cover and microwave for 2 minutes. When tender, add the broccoli to the pan used to cook the chicken. Toss the vegetable in any of the remaining lemon juices and pan drippings – cook on stove top for 3 minutes. Serve immediately. Salt and pepper if desired.

Can’t believe it’s only 7:45pm. Fifteen minutes till it’s time to watch a new episode of Law and Order SVU with Daniel. YES!

Has anyone read anything informative on the interaction of heat/cold and calorie burn? Please share!

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