Published April 2022 on YouTube

Using Deliberate Cold Exposure for Health and Performance | Huberman Lab Podcast #66

1. Deliberate Cold Exposure

Andrew discusses the benefits of deliberate cold exposure on mental and physical health, as well as athletic performance. He explains the neural circuits and hormones involved and provides specific protocols for implementing cold exposure safely and effectively. He emphasizes the importance of consulting a physician and progressing gradually, and highlights the potential benefits of even modest cold temperatures.+

2. Boosting Energy and Cognitive Performance

Boosting Energy:Andrew discusses a study that shows how 15 minutes of moderate intensity exercise can increase energy levels and improve attentional control and perceptual speed. He compares the results to a group that did mindfulness meditation and highlights the benefits of exercise for boosting energy.+
Boosting Cognitive Performance:Andrew discusses a study that shows how 15 minutes of moderate exercise prior to cognitive tasks can significantly improve focus and energy levels. He emphasizes the importance of energy in cognitive performance and suggests that exercise can be a valuable tool for enhancing neuroplasticity.+

3. The Brain-Body Contract

Andrew announces two live events in Seattle and Portland where he will discuss science-based tools for mental health, physical health, and performance, with most of the material being distinct from the podcast and social media posts. Tickets can be accessed at

4. Gut Health & Performance Gear

Gut Health:Andrew emphasizes the importance of a healthy gut microbiome and how Athletic Greens' prebiotics and probiotics can help. He also discusses the benefits of vitamin D3 and K2 for overall health.+
Performance Gear:Andrew discusses two products that are designed with performance in mind: ROKA eyeglasses and Helix Sleep mattresses. He explains how ROKA glasses are perfect for athletic performance and have a great aesthetic, while Helix Sleep mattresses are customized to match your unique sleep needs. Listeners can use the code "Huberman" to save 20% on their first order of ROKA glasses and get up to $200 off their mattress order plus two free pillows from Helix Sleep.+

5. Cold for Health

Andrew discusses the effects of cold exposure on the body and brain, highlighting the importance of the circadian rhythm in temperature regulation. He explains how deliberate cold exposure can be used to access specific states and when to avoid it if the goal is to get to sleep.+

6. Efficient Body Cooling

Cooling Misconceptions:Andrew explains the misconception of using cold towels to cool off in hot temperatures and how it can actually increase body temperature due to the brain's thermostat in the medial preoptic area of the hypothalamus.+
Cooling Body Surfaces:Andrew explains how the hypothalamus controls temperature regulation and how to efficiently cool down the body by leveraging specific portals. He emphasizes the importance of avoiding hyperthermia and cooling the appropriate surfaces of the body, such as the upper cheeks, palms of hands, and bottoms of feet.+
Cooling the Body:Andrew explains how to efficiently cool the body by understanding the circadian rhythm in temperature and making sure that something cold contacts the glabrous skin surfaces on the palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet, and upper half of the face. He provides specific protocols for doing this without the use of expensive technology.+

7. Mental Effects of Cold Exposure

Andrew explains how deliberate cold exposure can be used to improve mental performance and resilience. By elevating catecholamines such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, cold exposure can improve mood and cognitive attention for long periods of time. Andrew provides specific protocols for using cold exposure to become more resilient and elevate mood.+

8. Physical Effects of Cold Exposure

Andrew discusses the benefits of deliberate cold exposure, including its effects on metabolism and the conversion of white fat cells to thermogenic beige or brown fat cells. Cold exposure can also reduce inflammation post-exercise and generally.Show transcript +

9. Cold Exposure Benefits

Deliberate Cold Exposure:Andrew explains the benefits of deliberate cold exposure on mental performance and emphasizes the importance of mindset when exposing oneself to cold. He distinguishes between placebo effects and mindset effects and highlights the need for deliberate action to extract the benefits of cold exposure.+
Cold Exposure Guidelines:Andrew Huberman explains that the ideal temperature for cold exposure varies depending on an individual's cold tolerance and core metabolism. He advises starting with an environment that is uncomfortably cold but safe to stay in. The temperature will also vary throughout the day due to the body's internal rhythm.+

10. Cold Exposure Methods

Andrew Huberman explains the most effective methods of cold exposure, with cold water immersion up to the neck being the best, followed by cold showers and going outside in minimal clothing. He also discusses cryo chambers and ice packs, but emphasizes the efficiency of cooling the palms, upper face, and bottoms of the feet.+

11. Protocols for Cold Exposure

Deliberate Cold Exposure:Andrew explains how deliberate cold exposure can be used to enhance mental health and build resilience. Cold exposure increases norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain and body, which are the same stress hormones that are released during a stressful event. By deliberately stressing the body through cold exposure, individuals can learn to maintain mental clarity and calm during stressful situations, ultimately increasing their resilience.+
Building Resilience:Andrew explains how deliberate cold exposure can help build mental resilience. By taking the context of the day and the moment into account, one can sense the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine in the brain and body and see those as walls to climb over. The timed protocol of increasing the duration of cold exposure is objective, but Andrew favors taking the context into account to build mental resilience.+
Building Resilience:Andrew explains how to build mental resilience and mental toughness through counting walls and visualization techniques. He also discusses the biology behind stressors and the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain and body.+
Building Mental Toughness:Andrew Huberman shares his favorite protocol for building mental toughness, which involves using cold exposure to traverse mental walls. By setting a designated number of walls to overcome before starting the protocol, individuals can gradually increase their mental toughness and resilience. It's important to maintain cognitive control and not push oneself too far, but by counting walls and gradually increasing the challenge, individuals can build their mental toughness over time.+
Building Resilience:Andrew explains how cold exposure can help build resilience and mental toughness. By recognizing walls as an experience of resistance, one can learn behavioral control in the context of elevated levels of catecholamines. This training can help prepare for real-life stressors that arrive unexpectedly.+

12. Cold Exposure Mental State

Andrew explains the two mental states one can have during cold exposure: calming oneself or leaning into the challenge. He recommends engaging in cognitive exercises to maintain clarity of mind and teach the brain to stay engaged during high levels of stress.+

13. Cold Exposure Movement

Andrew explains the importance of movement during cold exposure and how it affects the thermal layer generated by the body. He suggests that moving around continuously in cold water can provide a more potent stimulus and increase mental resilience training.+

14. Optimal Frequency of Cold Exposure

Andrew shares guidelines for safe and consistent cold exposure, recommending at least 11 minutes total per week and adjusting frequency, duration, or temperature as needed. He emphasizes the importance of doing it safely and consistently, finding what works for each individual.+

15. Cold Exposure Benefits

Cold Exposure Benefits:Andrew discusses the benefits of deliberate cold exposure for building mental resilience and its effect on dopamine release. He explains how cold exposure can be used as a stressor and adjusted to continually build mental toughness. The release of dopamine in response to cold exposure is a healthier form of dopamine release and can make us feel energized and focused.+
Cold Water Immersion:Andrew discusses a study that measured the effects of cold water immersion on metabolism and hormone levels. The study found that being immersed in water at 14 degrees Celsius for an hour led to a 350% increase in metabolism, while being immersed in 32 degrees Celsius did not cause a shift in metabolism.+
Cold Exposure Effects:Andrew explains the mental effects of deliberate cold exposure, including the huge and long-lasting increases in norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the blood, which can enhance attention and feelings of wellbeing and mood. These increases in dopamine are similar to those elicited by addictive behaviors and drugs, but can be leveraged towards other activities.+
Cold Exposure Benefits:Andrew explains how deliberate cold exposure can increase catecholamines, leading to improvements in mood, mental acuity, and levels of alertness. He also discusses how this type of stress can create a neurochemical milieu that has many health benefits, including the absence of cortisol, leading to eustress.+

16. Cold Exposure Benefits

Cold Exposure Effects:Andrew discusses a study on the effects of deliberate cold exposure on metabolism in young, healthy men. The study found that 11 minutes of cold water immersion per week increased brown fat thermogenesis and core body temperature, resulting in increases in core body metabolism. The longer-lasting effects of cold exposure on metabolism occur through changes in the types of fat stored in the body.+
Cold Exposure Benefits:Andrew explains the physiological basis of a traditional Swedish and Danish saying that suggests exposing oneself to cold environments can prepare the body for more extreme cold environments. Deliberate cold exposure can convert white fat cells, leading to increased comfort in cold environments.+
Cold Exposure Benefits:Andrew explains how cold exposure can increase beige and brown fat stores, which can increase core metabolism and help burn white fat. Deliberate cold exposure causes increases in norepinephrine, which activates downstream pathways and increases mitochondrial density, stoking the furnace of cells and actually changing gene expression in those cells.+
Cold Exposure Benefits:Andrew explains how deliberate cold exposure can increase core metabolism and convert white fat to beige and brown fat, leading to lasting increases in metabolism. He also discusses the plasticity of white fat and how cold exposure can be a powerful tool for increasing metabolism and combatting stress mentally.+

17. Boosting Dopamine

Andrew explains how ingesting caffeine before deliberate cold exposure can increase dopamine levels in the brain and body. The caffeine increases the density and efficacy of dopamine receptors, allowing dopamine to have its greatest effect.+

18. Cold Exposure Principle

Andrew discusses the Søberg principle, which states that to achieve the greatest increases in metabolism through deliberate cold exposure, you want to force yourself to reheat on your own after the deliberate cold exposure. He also explains that if you want to use deliberate cold exposure to increase metabolism, you should make sure that you get to the point where you shiver.+

19. Norepinephrine & Fat Cells

Andrew explains how neurons directly release norepinephrine into the fat stores when exposed to cold, causing white fat cells to convert to beige and brown fat, changing the way they metabolize energy.+

20. Cold Exposure Guidelines

Cold Exposure Guidelines:Andrew Huberman provides guidelines for the use of deliberate cold exposure for physical performance. He recommends avoiding cold water immersion and ice bath immersion in the four hours immediately following strength and hypertrophy training, but suggests that taking a brief cold shower after a training session is unlikely to reverse the effects of the training.+
Cold Water Immersion:Andrew discusses the benefits of cold water immersion after high intensity exercise, citing a meta-analysis of 52 studies. Cold water immersion was found to be an effective recovery tool for muscular power, soreness, and perceived recovery after 24 hours of exercise, with shorter duration and lower temperatures improving its efficacy. However, certain forms of exercise, such as eccentric exercise, were not benefited by cold water immersion.+
Cold Exposure Benefits:Andrew discusses the benefits of cold exposure for recovery after high intensity training. He explains that even short durations of cold exposure can reduce muscle soreness and improve training efficacy. Cold exposure can be a powerful anti-inflammatory tool and can positively influence muscular power performance.+

21. Efficient Body Cooling

Efficient Body Cooling:Andrew explains how cooling the glabrous skin surfaces such as the palms, soles of feet, and upper face can efficiently cool the body. He cites a study that shows how cooling these areas can help sustain physical activity and reduce the risk of hyperthermia.+
Glabrous Skin Cooling:Andrew discusses the importance of using cool objects or surfaces that do not cause vasoconstriction when using glabrous skin cooling to offset hyperthermia or improve performance. He mentions a commercial product called the CoolMitt and also talks about how people have started experimenting with home versions of it. Cooling the palms of the hands, the bottoms of the feet, and the upper portion of the face can help lower core body temperature.+

22. Tool: Palmar Cooling & Endurance

Palmer Cooling Effects:Andrew Huberman explains the remarkable effects of proper palmer cooling on physical performance, including the ability to do more work over time, increase in strength, and endurance. The effects of palmer cooling are clear and robust, allowing people to go longer with less perceived effort and to quit later.+
Cooling for Strength:Andrew discusses the benefits of using palmer cooling during strength training. Studies have shown that it can lead to significant increases in anaerobic output and volume, even in experienced athletes. By using this technique, individuals can extend the duration of their workout and do more work overall.+
Improving Performance with Palmer Cooling:Andrew discusses the benefits of using palmer cooling in endurance and strength training to increase volume and push through plateaus. Palmer cooling can also reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and short circuit the normal mechanisms of muscle soreness. By reducing core body temperature, palmer cooling can improve performance by allowing muscles to contract in a narrow range of temperatures.+
Cool Object Protocol:Andrew Huberman discusses a simple protocol for reducing core body temperature during exercise by holding onto a relatively cool object in one or both hands for a few minutes between sets. This can increase endurance and strength gains and reduce muscle soreness.+

23. Cold Exposure & Testosterone

Andrew discusses the practice of using deliberate cold exposure to the groin to increase testosterone and the lack of well-controlled studies supporting this claim. He explores the plausible mechanisms by which cold exposure could increase testosterone, including vasoconstriction and dopamine increases, but emphasizes the potential dangers of direct contact with the testicles.+

24. Timing Cold Exposure

Andrew discusses the importance of timing cold exposure and how it can affect core body temperature, alertness, and sleep. He recommends doing it early in the day to increase alertness and avoid disrupting sleep.+

25. Cold Exposure Protocols

Andrew Huberman shares his cold exposure protocols aimed at improving mental toughness and resilience, mood, performance, and metabolism. These protocols can be found on the Huberman Lab Neural Network Newsletter, which can be accessed for free by signing up on