The Unseen Effects: Gaining Weight in Summer Due to AC

“It’s the dog days of summer and with a heat wave hitting most of us, what do we do? The very first thing we do when we get in our cars or get home is turn on the air conditioner. Yes, it helps to keep us cool BUT the latest research study shows, air conditioning may cause obesity. This unseen side effect could be the culprit behind gaining weight in summer, a season typically associated with weight loss due to the heat and increased physical activity.

For one, the artificial cold increases your appetite, which means you will be tempted to eat foods that are too heavy for this time of year. After all – your body thinks it’s 10 degrees cooler – causing you to gain weight in the summer, whereas summer is a traditional time to lose weight. 

Artificial cooling also compromises your body’s ability to deal with high temperatures. You are meant to experience heat in summer, and cold in winter. Your body carefully adjusts and manages itself each season. Part of each season adjustment is a natural change in diet. AC scrambles that very old biorhythm. If you live in AC, you will crave foods that are bad for your climate.

Secondly, just like mood swings can be exhausting, sudden temperature changes are very taxing physically. In nature, it is rare to experience a sudden 20 or even 30 degree temperature change. In modern times, sudden temperature changes are the norm every time you step into your car, a store, or your home. The precipitous change causes sudden, intense biological changes as your body struggles to adapt.

As you enter an air-conditioned space, you may have goosebumps or shiver in order to maintain a comfortable body temperature. Your pores close, your muscles tighten, and your shoulders creep toward your ears just to deal with the sudden drop from balmy summer to frigid arctic. You might even get a crick in your neck, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The sudden 20 degree drop especially weakens your immunity, increasing your chances of catching a summer cold or sinus problems. You may even find yourself experiencing more headaches as you adjust constantly from hot to cold temperatures

After you leave the conditioned space and step outside, you are slammed with a wall of heat. It seems hotter than before you entered. Now another reaction begins. Your pores open, blood rushes back to your extremities. Your cheeks flush, and sweat breaks on your forehead. You may feel out of breath just by standing outside. Twenty minutes or so later, your body has adjusted to heat, and the summer sun doesn’t seem so alarming any more. Altogether, these changes overwhelm your body’s ability to cope and create unnecessary stress. Once the body is under stress – it will not lose weight. Many studies have highlighted the correlation between stress on your body and weight gain.

Combating the Summer Bulge: Strategies to Prevent Gaining Weight in Summer

What can you do? Could you turn up the AC a few degrees? Actually, the research found that when you raise the ambient temperature from a relaxing 72° F (22° C) to a hot 80° F (27° C), people reduce calories. When it gets warm, people move less. They use less energy and so reduce fewer calories. Luckily, heat also lowers the appetite, so people tend to eat less when it’s warmer.

All the studies I looked at suggest that we burn more calories in higher temperature settings than in air-conditioned rooms. However, other factors might cause the link between AC and weight gain as well. For example, people tend to eat more when it’s cold, so having the AC on might have the same effect, if not as intensely. Also, when it’s hot outside, most people like to turn their ACs on and stay indoors instead of going out and exercising. Put “eat more” and “exercise less” together and you get “weight gain.”

I get it that you don’t want to turn the AC up to 80 degrees but maybe a warmer 76 degrees just may be the missing link to your weight loss.

If weight is an issue for you – it often means that your body is under stress.  While we don’t offer weight loss programs (they dont work long-term), we do recognize that weight is an indicator of stress on the body.

Lets chat about ways you can reduce that stress and lose the extra weight permanently.

I want to talk about my weight…

In health,