Do Ice Baths Burn Fat? Can it accelerate the calorie-burning process? What is the truth? Social media is lit these days with influencers plunging themselves in icy cold water. Why?
As per claims, cold baths can help you lose weight. And it’s not just everyday influencers that are obsessed with the idea, even big celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Jenifer Aniston, etc. seem to be fans of icy cold plunges.
Well, the social frenzy aside, does the idea hold any ground? Is there any scientific backing or it’s just a popular sentiment with no proof?
In this post, we will thoroughly investigate the idea and clarify once and for all with proper research, whether ice baths burn fat and help shed those extra pounds or not.
Let’s get straight to the question then;
Do Cold Bath Burn Calories?
Well, the answer is Yes and the underlying concept is called Thermogenesis. Let’s clarify it further!
Burn more calories than you consume is the primary principle of weight loss. If you can somehow accelerate your calorie intake, you can lose weight.
That’s where cold comes in which intensifies the process of thermogenesis.
Thermogenesis is how our body produces heat and maintains its internal temperature. When you take a dip in the cold water, your body has to work harder to maintain the internal temperature.
And how can it do that? Well, by increasing calorie expenditure to produce more energy in the form of heat.
Increased calorie expenditure = More Weight Loss
Does Cold Bath Activate Brown Adipose Tissues?
There’s another action by which cold baths can burn fat – it’s by activating brown fat. Unlike its white cousin, brown fat doesn’t store energy, instead, it burns calories to generate heat. And you that, brown adipose tissues burn sugars and fat in the body thus promoting weight loss.
The only catch is that brown fat is mostly present in newborns or animals that are hibernating. Adults only have a miniscule amount of brown fat that does not contribute much to the fat-burning process.
However, the latest study found a clear connection between cold baths and brown fat activation. It revealed that there’s a definite increase in brown adipose tissue activity when the body is exposed to cold temperatures.
So, cold baths promote brown fat production which in turn increases calorie expenditure and therefore reduces fat.
Does Cold Bath Accelerate Metabolism?
Another way to lose fat is by accelerating metabolism. It’s the process by which our body converts the food we eat into energy.
Faster metabolism burns more calories and hence prevents fat deposits. Cold baths appear to accelerate the body’s metabolism rate.
Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Cristiano Ronaldo are all fans of cold baths and have included it in their training routine. While weight loss may not be their primary goal, faster metabolism can indeed boost overall performance due to higher energy availability.
How To Get Started With Ice Baths?
If you are convinced of the fat reduction capabilities of ice baths, our best advice is first to update yourself on its possible negative impacts.
- First thing first, start slow and move gradually. It’s not easy to expose your body to sudden cold and many will find it too challenging. It will help to start with people who already have experience with Ice Baths. It can motivate you and help you familiarize yourself with cold baths.
- For a week during the shower, lower the water temperature as much as you can bear. Immerse your entire body below water for 15 seconds then move out.
- Now begin to decrease the temperature gradually and increase the timing under the cold water over the next four weeks. Your body will tell you whether it likes the experience. You might notice viable signs like better mood, more energy, and less stress.
How Long Should You Stay in Cold Water?
After exploring the possible mechanism of ice baths and their impact on body fat, the question arises, how long should you immerse yourself in a cold bath to lose weight?
There’s no definite answer to the question since it depends on an individual’s cold tolerance, health levels, etc. Here are some general guidelines you can follow to reap its maximum benefits;
- Notice Your Body
The first thing you must do is listen to your body. If it feels like tingling too much or experiencing discomfort, it’s time to get out.
- Follow 12 Minutes a Week Regime
Popular Neuroscientist, Dr. Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., suggests a 12-minute regime over a week for cold baths.
That’s the total exposure to come baths for the entire week, you can decide the duration of each session at your convenience;
- 4 sessions of 3 minutes over a week
- 7 sessions of 1 minute 40 seconds per week.
- Wim Hof’s Suggestions for the Duration of Cold Baths
Wim Hof, also known as Iceman, who has popularized the positive effects of extreme cold on the body, suggests a gradual increase in time and frequency for cold baths. Start with cold showers, then gradually decrease the temperature and increase the duration.
What are the risks involved in cold baths?
There are several risks associated with exposure to icy water. You must be aware of the risks to avoid any unpleasant health issues;
- Prolonged exposure to clean water can lead to hypothermia, a life-threatening situation that is caused by a steep drop in core body temperature.
- Cold water plunges can put extra stress on the cardiovascular system. It can cause several heart issues. Those with heart conditions should avoid cold baths.
- Cold water can trigger gasp reflux which can be risky in people with respiratory issues and asthma.
- Long exposure to cold water can also cause skin issues like cold urticaria (hives) and frostbite.
Yes, cold water can burn fat to some degree but don’t consider it to be a miracle cure. You will still need to follow a good diet and exercise regime. Besides, you cannot overlook the complications associated with cold baths too.
Take cold baths as a training exercise that makes your brain and body strong. As cold baths flood your body with dopamine, it might keep you in a good mood all day. So, weigh the pros and cons of ice baths, get yourself ready for the shower, and Go!