Weight Loss

Some basic reasoning tells us that cold showers can assist in weight loss. Consider the acute effects of a cold shower. The water hits the skin and almost immediately the body jump starts; blood flow increases, muscles harden, and heart rate increases. All of these things require energy.

It may help to think of the body as a heat engine. A typical heat engine utilizes a hot reservoir and a cold reservoir to run a motor, as in the diagram below. Only, instead of a motor, the body runs various metabolic processes.

Why Your Body is Warmer Than the Environment

Why Your Body is Warmer Than the Environment

Like a heat engine, the body must transfer heat to the environment. Even on a blistering hot day, we transfer latent heat to the air by sweating. Internal body temperature is the “hot reservoir” of the heat engine, while the “cold reservoir” is the air (or water) that surrounds the body. Without this transfer of heat, the energy of all our metabolic processes would have nowhere to go.

The key is that the metabolic output (W), equals the amount of heat flowing from the hot to cold reservoir. Taking a cold shower or bath forces you to burn more energy. And by estimating water temperature, you could calculate approximately how much.

In a 2.5 year experiment, rats of equal age were gradually accustomed to standing in cool water (at 23° C, 73° F) until they were standing in it 4 hours per day, 5 days per week. Even though the rats ingested 44% more food than the control group, their body weight was significantly lower. Incidentally, their lifespan was also slightly longer (by approximately 5%), and they had significantly fewer tumor formations [1].

This also trains your physiology to deal with colder temperatures, raising your resting metabolism. This is similar to the effect of physical exercise. The only difference is that while working out raises it through a direct stimulus to metabolism (through will power), showering in cold water is more of an indirect stimulus.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3781978

10 thoughts on “Weight Loss

  1. i manage to lose weight by doing lots of cardio workout, bench press and weight lifting. i also changed my diet into low fat and low carb diet.

  2. Weight Loss can be achieved easily through exercise. You should also consider a healthy and balance diet that is free from saturated fat. Avoid sugary foods too.

  3. its like anything u gotta use this in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise too many ppl try these sort of things and wonder y they dont work

  4. I am considering using some of these techinques. I eat a very healthy diet and workout regularly yet getting the next ten pounds of body fat has proved difficult. A cold shower once or twice a day? Why not.

  5. Agreed with Bob. There are some suggested immune system benefits from cold showers as well as the stimulation of brown adipose tissue in the lower neck/trap area, which will encourage fat burning.

    Going from 11% body fat to 8% body fat is a bitch, and every little bit helps, especially when it’s just standing in a cold shower once or twice a day for 15 minutes

  6. i hit the web after hearing about the benefits of a cold shower on the dr. oz show. i don’t watch it, but my dad had it on, and they discussed something about cold water activating certain fat cells in the body. i just wanted to know how fact/fiction this claim was, and i’m glad to see that there’s other science out there that at least suggests that these claims could be true. thanks so much!

  7. Hi there,

    Thanks for the good information. I just had someone submit a guest post to my site making this claim. I’d never heard it before, so I had to research it. It makes sense. Your body would have to burn more energy to keep itself warm or compensate for the cold. Conversely, it deals with being to hot by sweating which in itself doesn’t seem that it would require energy. Anyway, thanks for the insight. I think you’ve sold me.

  8. Great article. There are many other benefits of cold showers as well including better skin and improved circulation. Remember folks, humans didn’t always have hot showers.

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