Do cold showers help you lose weight, and if so, what is the exact mechanism? This question has been debated for some time, and while the verdict is still out to an extent, a growing body of research points to some surprising findings.
It is still important to separate fact from fiction if we are able to appreciate the big picture. This is why we will begin by taking a quick look at the effects of a cold shower in the morning before discussing the possible relationship with weight loss.
A Shock to the System
Anyone who has ever mistakenly jumped into a freezing pool or took a swim at the beach during the autumn months is well aware that such temperatures will have an immediate metabolic effect upon the body. Cold water particularly influences the autonomic nervous system (responses that are not consciously controlled) in three discrete ways:
- Immediately increasing oxygen intake.
- Causing a rise in heart rate.
- Reducing circulation to the skin (the dermis and epidermis).
This mammalian mechanism is essentially “hard-wired” into our brains. The main goal is to ensure that vital organs receive the blood and oxygen they require while being maintained at an adequate temperature.
What are the Benefits of Cold Showers?
Judging cold showers solely on the observations outlined above, it might initially seem as if this practice could cause more harm than good. So, why are cold showers good for you?
One takeaway point involves increased circulation. As opposed to warm or hot showers, cold water pulls blood from the surface and, therefore, can help to reduce inflammation. This is a very real advantage for those who suffer from high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
Many also feel that taking cold showers is a great way to reduce muscle soreness after a high-intensity workout. This once again involves the fact that a greater volume of blood will circulate through the muscles; ultimately speeding up the healing process while reducing the presence of chemicals such as lactic acid.
There are some studies which hint that cold showers can help maintain glowing skin and strengthen hair cuticles. As cold water does not dry out a layer of the skin known as the sebum when compared to hot water, it stands to reason that the epidermis will become more supple and flexible over time.
Do Cold Showers Help You Lose Weight?
We have now arrived at the main point of this article. Does any evidence suggest that cold showers are related to weight loss? There are two reasons why a correlation could potentially exist.
The first involves a type of fat known as brown fat. The body will begin to burn brown fat in order to generate heat (in the form of calories) when we are exposed to cold temperatures. Brown fat is typically located around the neck, shoulders and back. So, cold showers may help to reduce the fat stores in these areas.
Another logical observation involves how the body begins to shiver when exposed to cold water. Shivering is an autonomic response intended to increase our core temperature by burning fat stores. So, shivering could (in theory) cause the body to burn through more fat calories when compared to taking a hot shower. There is also limited evidence suggesting that these showers will provide a metabolic “boost” for an extended period of time; an additional reason why a cold shower in the morning might not be a bad idea.
Combine Cold Showers with Spatz3
Although cold showers have many noticeable effects upon the body, relying upon this habit alone to achieve your weight-loss goals is hardly realistic. In fact, a ten-minute cold shower will only realistically burn between ten and 20 calories. This is why other lifestyle changes are recommended.
From adopting a healthy diet to using the Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon to reduce the size of your meals, there are numerous strategies to embrace. However, a growing body of evidence does indeed recommend that taking showers with cold water can provide surprising benefits.
We can now see that the question “do cold showers help you lose weight?” will depend on what you are trying to achieve, as well as whether you are hoping to enjoy the additional health benefits outlined above.