Skip to main content

Rates of energy substrates utilization during human cold exposure

Summary

Although it is well established in animals that acute cold exposure markedly increases the oxidation of energy substrates, the absolute quality and quantity of substrate oxidation is poorly understood in humans. This study compared the rates of substrate utilization in seven healthy young men exposed to both the warm (control exposure at 29° C; semi-nude, 14 h fasted) and to the cold for 2 h (10° C, 1 m·s−1 wind velocity). Substrate utilization was calculated using indirect calorimetry and the nonprotein respiratory exchange ratio, which was derived from the urinary urea nitrogen output. Cold exposure induced a 3.1±0.2° C drop in mean body temperature and a body heat debt of 825.9±63.3 kJ (p<0.01). These parameters remained essentially unchanged in the warm. Cold exposure elevated the 2 h energy expenditure 2.46-fold in comparison to the warm (p<0.01). This cold-induced thermogenesis was accompanied by increases of 588% in carbohydrate oxidation (p<0.01) and 63% in fat oxidation (p<0.05), whereas protein oxidation remained unchanged. Although the greatest proportion of the energy expenditure in the warm was derived from lipid (59%), carbohydrate oxidation represented the major fuel for thermogenesis in the cold, since it accounted for 51% of the corresponding total energy expenditure. The results demonstrate that cold exposure causes a much greater increase in the utilization of carbohydrate than lipid. It is suggested that these substrates are directly utilized for thermogenesis in the shivering skeletal muscles.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Acheson KJ, Zahorska-Markiewicz B, Pittet P, Anantharaman K, Jequier E (1980) Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals. Am J Clin Nutr 33:989–997

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Acheson KJ, Schutz Y, Bessard T, Ravussin E, Jequier E, Flatt JP (1984) Nutritional influences on lipogenesis and thermogenesis after a carbohydrate meal. Am J Physiol [Endocrinology Metab] 246:E62-E70

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Alexander G (1979) Cold thermogenesis. In: Robertshaw D (ed) International review of physiology. Environmental physiology III, vol 20. University Park Press, Baltimore, MD, pp 43–155

    Google Scholar 

  4. Burton AC, Edholm OG (1969) Man in a Cold Environment. Hafner Publishing Co, New York, NY, pp 38–42

    Google Scholar 

  5. Buskirk ER, Thompson RH, Whedon GD (1963) Metabolic response to cold air in men and women in relation to total body fat content. J Appl Physiol 18:603–612

    Google Scholar 

  6. Depocas F, Masironi R (1960) Glucose as fuel for thermogenesis. Am J Physiol 199:1051–1058

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Folk GE (1974) Textbook of Environmental Physiology. Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia, PA, pp 98–215

    Google Scholar 

  8. Glickman N, Mitchell HH, Keeton RW, Lambert EH (1967) Shivering and heat production in men exposed to intense cold. J Appl Physiol 22:1–8

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Goodenough RD, Royle GT, Nadek ER, Wolfe MH, Wolfe RR (1982) Leucine and urea metabolism in acute human cold exposure. J Appl Physiol 53:367–372

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Hardy JD, Dubois EF (1941) The significance of the average temperature of the skin. In: American Institute of Physics. Temperature, its measurement and control in the science and industry. Reinhold, New York, NY, pp 537–543

    Google Scholar 

  11. Himms-Hagen J (1972) Lipid metabolism during cold exposure and cold acclimation. Lipids 7:310–320

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Hurley BF, Haynes EM (1982) The effects of rest and exercise in the cold on substrate mobilization and utilization. Aviat Sp Environ Med 53:1193–1197

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Issekutz B, Rodahl K, Birkhead NC (1962) Effect of severe cold stress on the nitrogen balance of men under different dietary conditions. J Nutr 78:189–197

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Jansson E (1982) On the significance of the RER after different diets during exercise in man. Act Physiol Scand 114:103–110

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Jequier E (1980) Metabolisme energetique. Encyclopedie medico-chirurgicale. Nutrition 10371 A 10 (Paris) 1–12

    Google Scholar 

  16. LeBlanc J (1975) Man in the cold. Charles C. Thomas Publishers Inc. Springfield, IL, p 63–84

    Google Scholar 

  17. Lusk G (1928) The elements of the Science of nutrition. Saunders, Philadelphia, PA, pp 64–67

    Google Scholar 

  18. Mager M, Robinson SM (1969) Substrate mobilization and utilization in fasting men during cold exposure. Bull New Jersy Acad Sci [Symposium issue]:26–32

  19. McGilvery RW (1983) Biochemistry, a functional approach. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, PA, pp 786–816

    Google Scholar 

  20. Minaire Y, Forichon J, Jomain MJ, Dallevet G (1981) Independence of the circulating insulin levels of the increased glucose turnover in shivering dogs. Experientia 37:745–747

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Newstead CG (1987) The relationship between ventilation and oxygen consumption in man is the same during both moderate exercise and shivering. J Physiol 383:455–459

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Paul P, Holmes WL (1973) Free fatty acid metabolism during stress: exercise, acute cold exposure and anaphylactic shock. Lipids 8:142–150

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Ravussin E, Schutz T, Acheson KJ, Dusmet M, Bourquin L, Jequier E (1985) Short-term mixed diet overfeeding in man: no evidence for “luxusconsumption”. Am J Physiol 249 [Endocrinol Metab 12]:E470-E477

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Seitz HJ, Krone W, Wilke H, Tarnowski W (1981) Rapid rise in plasma glucagon induced by acute cold exposure in man and rat. Pflügers Arch 389:115–120

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Spurr GB, Hutt BK, Horvath SM (1957) Shivering, oxygen consumption and body temperatures in acute exposure of men to two different cold environments. J Appl Physiol 11:58–64

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Thompson GE (1977) Physiological effect of cold exposure. In: Robertshaw D (ed) International review of physiology II, vol 15. University Press, Baltimore, MD, pp 29–69

    Google Scholar 

  27. Timmons BA, Araujo J, Thomas TR (1985) Fat utilization enhanced by exercise in a cold environment. Med Sci Sp Exercise 17:673–678

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Vallerand AL, Lupien J, Bukowiecki LJ (1983) Interactions of cold exposure and starvation on glucose tolerance and insulin response. Am J Physiol 245 [Endocrinol Metab 8]:E575-E581

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Vallerand AL, Perusse F, Bukowiecki LJ (1987) Cold exposure potentiates the effect of insulin on in vivo glucose uptake. Am J Physiol 253 [Endocrinol Metab 16]:E179-E186

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Vallerand AL, Frim J, Kavanagh MF (1988) Plasma glucose and insulin responses to oral and intravenous glucose in cold-exposed men. J Appl Physiol 65:2395–2399

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Wilson O, Laurell S, Tibbling G (1969) Effect of acute cold exposure on blood lipids in man. Fed Proc 28:1209–1215

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to André L. Vallerand.

Additional information

This is DCIEM paper no. 89-P-/6

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vallerand, A.L., Jacobs, I. Rates of energy substrates utilization during human cold exposure. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 58, 873–878 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02332221

Download citation

Key words

  • Carbohydrate
  • Energy substrates
  • Lipid
  • Metabolism
  • Protein