Muscles vs Fat

I don't know if this has been discussed before - but i guess we can all agree that fat is a good insulator and increases the amount of time people can spend in cold water.

Say IF you would retain your body fat percentage but instead build muscle - would it keep you warmer longer?
(As per the old a larger person has a lower surface area to volume ratio)

But i take it 5kg muscle gain would help less compared to 5kg fat gain as muscle is more dense?

(the reason for this thread is that i have lost 4kg fat!)



  • pavlicovpavlicov NYC USASenior Member

    @andiss I remember reading somewhere that, I think Adam Walker, prior his swims decided not to gain weight in fat but rather beef up his core muscles because they technically insulate better. I cannot find the reference at the moment. It was a nice article I read maybe 2-3 years ago about how it is not necessary to gain weight prior cold water swims but rather important to gain core muscles. It was also a lot about positive thinking and 'circle of fire'.

  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited August 2016

    I imagine that there would be more veins, arteries, and capillaries in muscle than fat because (I also imagine) muscle is more metabolically active. I'd worry that if you start vasoconstricting muscles, your muscles wouldn't get an ideal/full flow of fuel, and it would lead to muscle weakness, and possibly hasten glycogen depletion.

  • andissandiss Senior Member

    Adam Walker is def not fat, but on the other hand he is a big man with his 6'5" and 97kg (214lbs)

  • tortugatortuga Senior Member

    I recently saw a small, but interisting, study evaluating core temps,, body fat, stroke rate in cold water. Findings indicated that more body fat increases cold tolerance but does not effect core temp. Core temp loss was correlated with decreased stroke rate i.e. exhaustion. i

  • cwerhanecwerhane Portland Oregon Member

    I'm definitely intrigued with this conversation. I have EC in 2 yrs. I just got my body fat % measured by hydrostatic submersion and was defined as 17.5% (I'm 5.3" and 142 lbs). In the last 7-8 yrs, I've dropped from 35% and finally at a healthy range. I'm nervous about adding more weight for the channel and rebounding to my old unhealthy weight and eating habits.

  • andissandiss Senior Member

    i was at a swim a few weeks back, 12C in the water.

    The winner (a 6' something lad) did it in skins and was fine, he would be low on body fat but a lot of muscles, while another lad with less muscles but same approx body fat was very very cold....

  • SwimNCSwimNC Charlotte Member

    Interesting study related to this topic:

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    Darn! I have neither... well, maybe a little Xmas fat, but that disappears in early January...

  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    SwimNC said:
    Interesting study related to this topic:

    Interesting article- thanks. :D I've been cold swimming, so any information is useful. My hands and feet remained colder than any other parts of me, and after the last water temperature drop, my hands were much stiffer than usual, although they warmed well. Although I have many exercises for hands, I'm not sure how much actual muscle mass I can pack onto them, but I guess I can try to knit faster. ;)

    Cross training by crossing cables? At least I'll have warm stuff for after swimming. . .

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