Ray Cronise, et al, Have Published a Thoughtful Paper on Obesity (Free Download)


The ‘‘Metabolic Winter’’ Hypothesis: A Cause of the Current Epidemics of Obesity and Cardiometabolic Disease

Raymond J. Cronise, BS,(1) David A. Sinclair, PhD, (2,3) and Andrew A. Bremer, MD, PhD (4),*

The concept of the ‘‘Calorie’’ originated in the 1800s in an environment with limited food availability, primarily as a means to define economic equivalencies in the energy density of food substrates. Soon thereafter, the energy densities of the major macronutrients—fat, protein, and carbohydrates—were defined. However, within a few decades of its inception, the ‘‘Calorie’’ became a commercial tool for industries to promote specific food products, regardless of health benefit. Modern technology has altered our living conditions and has changed our relationship with food from one of survival to palatability. Advances in agriculture, food manufacturing, and processing have ensured that calorie scarcity is less prevalent than calorie excess in the modern world. Yet, many still approach dietary macronutrients in a reductionist manner and assume that isocalorie foodstuffs are isometabolic. Herein, we discuss a novel way to view the major food macronutrients and human diet in this era of excessive caloric consumption, along with a novel relationship among calorie scarcity, mild cold stress, and sleep that may explain the increasing prevalence of nutritionally related diseases.


I like to think Ray is a friend of mine. We’ve had heated email exchanges that have been over the top in vitriol over a few years. OTOH, I recall our first phone convo a few years back and he told me to look out for potatoes.

And look where I am.

…Ray did a successful campaign to get enough money donated (about $3k) to get the paper free download for all, so do him the courtesy of reading it.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. bettyboo on June 17, 2014 at 02:36

    Link. Does. Not. Work. For. Me.

    • LaFrite on June 17, 2014 at 02:46


      Great paper 🙂

  2. LaFrite on June 17, 2014 at 02:46


    Great paper 🙂

  3. Jon McRae on June 17, 2014 at 08:35

    Very well done article.

  4. Rita Weasel on June 17, 2014 at 10:23

    Very interesting article. I’m just lost on two points. 1) It seems that an assumption is being made about the sleep quality of prior generations/humans (did they really sleep soundlessly through the night?). 2) There also seems to be an assertion that cold-weather dwellers are healthier than those in warmer climes. The winter hypothesis section is the weakest, IMO. Anyone care to help me out on these 2 points? Thanks.

  5. MycroftJones on June 17, 2014 at 16:16

    Yes, the article was well written, but I didn’t get much out of it either. What is he saying? Sleep when its dark, with your window open, eat less, move more, eat a variety of whole foods?

    • J. B. Rainsberger on June 23, 2014 at 10:24

      I got “sleep when it’s dark in an uncomfortably cold room, eat less in general but more fruits and vegetables, don’t expect moving more to have a big impact on your weight, fast occasionally/eat only in response to true hunger, don’t rely on ruling out a specific group of foods/remain skeptical of reductionist views of eating.”

      This all sounds pretty good. Only the “more fruits and vegetables” part goes against my LCHF leanings.

  6. Harriet on June 17, 2014 at 18:53

    I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was a little disappointed. The paper is written as a typical academic one with a reasonable summary of existing literature and just a little taster of an alternative or additional framework, in this case the importance of adding seasonal scarcity and mild cold stress in the models of obesity. I would have liked this to have been the focus rather than the add on extra which academia requires in such an article (I’m not criticising Ray, just the academic way of writing that he has to engage in.)

    I have two areas I’d like to comment on. One is the apparent assumption that sleep deprivation is due to life style choices such as working hours and watching too much TV, rather than a person’s inability to sleep when they are in bed. Insomnia, despite good “sleep hygiene” is epidemic and a major cause of sleep deprivation in addition to the life style causes. I suppose if I read the literature on insomnia that there is much written about it, but in the “health and wellness” type public comment the focus is on lifestyle choices rather than insomnia.

    My second comment is that there is often an assumption that food scarcity occurs in winter. My experience of living off the land is that food scarcity occurs in spring before the spring growth has kicked in to provide more than a few greens. In winter we ate well from the bounty of stored foods – the potatoes were still good, vegetables in the garden were still plentiful, albeit no longer growing, and the meat killed in late autumn to feed us during winter was still hanging in the store or was kept in the freezer. By mid spring things could get a bit dire – though we had the advantage of being able to go shopping if there was enough cash flow to allow it. So if we are considering the “natural” flow of food availability then the scarce times for us in a cool temperate climate with frosty but not horrendously cold winters was from spring till the end of the first month in summer when the first starchy veges became available. So we had low availability of food just at the time when maximum effort for the next year’s food supply was needed.

    This latter point isn’t quite relevant to the being cool during winter, but it is related by way of seasonal thinking.

    • shah78 on June 19, 2014 at 10:13

      Excellent point Harriet. Its June 22, and here in Massachusetts, you could go to the local farmers market and could buy every plant available and you’d die of starvation. Three of four thousand dollars could buy you a few thousand calories of greens.

  7. Sharyn on June 20, 2014 at 15:26

    I have my doubts about the supposed benefits of living in cold temperatures. Here in NZ we have cold houses by WHO standards and suffer considerable increased morality and hospital admissions over winter. And one of the highest obesity rates in the world. So I don’t see the link.

  8. Boundless on June 20, 2014 at 17:21

    From the paper:
    “… Our 7-million-year evolutionary path was dominated by two seasonal challenges—calorie scarcity and mild cold stress. … Maybe our problem is that winter never comes. …”

    Reads a bit like a cliche I’ve used on various blogs since sometime last year:
    “For most modern humans:
    Metabolic Summer never ends.
    Metabolic Winter never comes.
    Metabolic Syndrome comes instead.”

    Being a cliche doesn’t make it untrue. Some future ideal diet won’t be the same for everyone. I can easily see that perhaps a seasonal shift in foods might be a desired factor in an otherwise genotype-specific diet. Genotype is only one of numerous confounding factors of course.

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