I learned in medical school that during a fever the body generates heat by revving up it’s metabolism so that for approximately every 1 degree increase in temperature there is a 10% increase in metabolism.
When I first heard that number I was amazed. This meant that a fever of 103° leads to an almost 50% increase in metabolism! I thought of all the calories I could burn and how fast it’d be to lose weight.
I probably had an unhealthy obsession with weight loss at the time which is where this came from… I mean, I conveniently forgot how crappy being sick and having a fever actually feels: body aches all over, malaise, being too fatigued to doing anything fun like play videogames or watch DVDs.
Well, this past November, at the tail end of our trip to Hawaii where I saw lava flowing into the ocean and trained at a BJJ gym with an ocean side view, I happened to get sick and it was not pleasant.
I took my temperature and noticed that along with my body aches and malaise and feeling too fatigued to do anything fun, I had a low grade fever of 100.4° . While I felt terrible, my inner voice told me that the silver lining to all of this was that I was burning extra calories!
My normal body temperature is around 98.6°, so according to the formula I should be burning:
(100.4 – 98.6) x 10 = 18% more calories than normal.
If only I had a machine that could measure and verify this… something like the Breezing!
Since the Breezing measured my average resting metabolic rate to be 1540 cal/day, with this low-grade fever my metabolic rate should be:
18%(1540) + 1540 = 1817 cal/day.
As you can see above, during this fever my momentary metabolism measured 69 cal/hr which equates to 1656 cal/day. This is only a 7.5% increase in my metabolism which is less than half of the expected 18% increase.
This paltry bump in my metabolic rate definitely wasn’t worth how badly I felt.
It just goes to show that despite our best efforts to quantify and apply tidy equations to complex physiological systems, biology still manages to remind us how fuzzy the math can be and messy things actually are.
I did lose a couple pounds as this fever ran it’s course, but it was due to my poor appetite and GI issues rather than any burned fat.
If you’re interested in trying the Breezing out for yourself:
You can order directly from the Breezing store and use discount code: BJJCaveman
This will give you 10 additional sensor cartridges ($49.98 value) with the purchase of the Breezing. All you need to do is add an additional 10-pack of sensors to your cart, check out, and enter BJJCaveman as the discount code.
It’s important that you select a 10 pack, and not two 5 packs for the discount to work properly.