Metabolic requirements of shivering humans

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2010 Jun 1;2(3):1155-68. doi: 10.2741/s124.


This review examines the heat production component of thermoregulation in adult humans. It describes the energy requirements of shivering muscles as they attempt to provide sufficient heat to counterbalance increases in heat loss in cold environments. Emphasis is placed on types of metabolic substrates used under various shivering conditions as well as on the effects energy deficit and food consumption. During shivering, muscle recruitment intensity and pattern of fiber recruitment are highly variable between muscles and individuals. In addition, a number of studies have indicated that shivering can be sustained with different fuels for several hours under variable conditions of cold stress and CHO availability. However, little is still known on the effects of prolonged fasting and energy deficit in the cold on energy metabolism. Even though it is clear that food consumption increases the odds for survival, the metabolic fate of ingested substrates remains highly uncertain. Combining fundamental principles surrounding metabolic fuel selection with applied knowledge of human performance in the cold may allow important breakthroughs in this field of research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cold Temperature / adverse effects
  • Eating / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Shivering / physiology*
  • Thermogenesis / physiology*