There’s an old saying: “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” The idea is that eating can help warm you up during a cold, and fasting can cool your body from a fever. Unfortunately, it’s wrong – you should eat during colds and fevers! But hey, let’s explore this topic a bit more.
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Do You Burn More Calories With a Fever?
A fever is your body’s way of improving its immune response, and it requires extra calories to raise your body’s temperature. This raises your body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR). So, yes, you burn more calories when you have a fever. Additionally, other factors such as loss of appetite and dehydration during a fever can contribute to burning more calories.
How Many Extra Calories Do You Burn With a Fever?
Determining the exact number of calories burned during a fever is difficult. However, according to a LiveStrong article, for every half degree Celsius of fever, your BMR increases by about seven percent. Let’s take an example to illustrate this:
If you’re a 25-year-old male who is 5’8″ and 150 pounds, your normal BMR is about 1,640 calories. With a fever of 101.3 °F (2.7 °F above the standard body temperature of 98.6 °F), your BMR would increase by 21%. This means you would burn approximately 344 extra calories per day because of the fever.
Please note that the numbers mentioned above should be taken with a grain of salt, as the primary scientific research supporting them is not readily available.
Factors Affecting How Many Calories a Fever Burns
The number of calories burned during a fever can vary depending on factors such as your body size, gender, and the severity of the fever. Generally, smaller people will burn fewer calories due to their lower BMR, while bigger individuals will burn more. Women may burn slightly fewer calories than men of the same size. Additionally, higher fevers will result in greater percentage increases and, therefore, more total calories burned.
Do You Burn More Calories With a Cold?
When you have a common cold without a fever, the increase in calorie burn is not as significant as during a fever. However, there may still be other factors at play.
Your appetite is often affected by a cold, leading to a reduced calorie intake. Additionally, your body uses extra calories to fight the infection, although not as many as during a fever. These factors can result in temporary weight loss during a cold.
Do You Lose Weight When You Are Sick?
It’s common to experience temporary weight loss when you’re sick. Most of the weight lost is water weight that will return later. However, if you’re eating significantly less than usual and/or running a high fever, you may also lose body fat or muscle mass.
To avoid significant muscle or fat loss during a fever, it’s important to eat a little extra to cover the additional work your body is doing to raise your temperature.
Should You Eat More When You Have a Cold?
Most credible sources recommend eating a little extra when you’re sick. Reducing calorie intake during illness can worsen symptoms, increase the duration of sickness, and make you more susceptible to conditions like the flu.
If you find it hard to eat or prepare food while sick, here are some quick and easy snack options:
- Soup: Not only is it enjoyable and soothing when you’re sick, but it also contains the electrolytes you need for hydration.
- Fruit: Nature’s fast food! Packed with vitamins, fruits can boost your body’s response to illness.
- Nuts and Seeds: A quick source of calories and healthy fats, nuts and seeds are more filling than fruits and salads.
Remember, taking care of your nutrition is crucial when you’re not feeling well.
Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey
If you’re ready to take charge of your diet, here are two additional recommendations:
Food or Health Masterclass: This free video training offers valuable insights into plant-based nutrition. Learn how to reduce your risk of various health conditions with plant-based food.
Future Kind’s vegan multivitamin: This is the best vegan multivitamin on the market, containing essential nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin D, and omega-3. Check out our full review with a 10% discount.
Make the most of your plant-based journey by staying informed and nourishing your body well.