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Do Cold Showers Burn Fat?

    topless man with water droplets on his face

    The Internet sure seems to think so, with advocates saying that cold showers boost metabolism and help you burn more fat during the day. The internet seems to think so, with claims that cold showers can boost metabolism, which increases fat burning throughout the day. The theory that cold showers could help boost fat burn is based on the discovery of brown adipose tissue (BAT), otherwise known as brown fat, in humans. Research has shown that cold showers (and cold exposure more generally) besides increasing metabolism directly, spur brown fat production.

    After all, cold temperatures have been shown time and time again to boost activation of brown fat, which is responsible for burning energy from the body. In a Harvard study, individuals spending 10 days at a time in rooms that were chilled to 60.8 degrees dramatically increased the activity levels of their brown fat. The weight-loss theory comes from studies showing that cooler temperatures trigger the burning of brown fat, which increases the temperature of the body.

    Studies have shown that, once activated by cold temperatures, only two ounces of brown fat could burn up to 500 calories a day to try and raise the body temperature. Decades of studies, mostly on rats and mice, have told us that when brown fat is activated from a resting state (such as from exposure to cold), it can burn an enormous amount of energy relative to its tiny size.

    Cold thermogenesis may help activate brown fat cells, increasing your bodys rate at burning calories. Cold thermogenesis is built around the idea that exposure to cold temperatures helps boost metabolism and burn fat.

    Cold thermogenesis may trigger an increased metabolism associated with shivering, potentially leading to an increase of the normal resting metabolic rate (RBR) of your body by 3-5 times. Similar to how you sweat to stay cooler, cold thermogenesis increases the metabolic rate of the body to maintain warmth under freezing conditions.

    Research shows that cold exposure increases your metabolic rate only 1-2 calories per minute, meaning a 10-minute cold shower will burn somewhere in the range of 10-20 additional calories. You can use cold exposure to increase metabolism and fat burning, but cold showers are not going to cut it. Sure, taking a cold shower may help you burn a few more extra calories and make you feel more alert, but it is not a long-term, effective solution to losing weight. The bottom line A cold shower may help you burn a few more calories each day, but that is not going to be enough to accelerate your fat loss.

    While it is great to think that you could shed extra body fat with your shower, it is not a great method for losing pounds. It does not follow that taking cold rather than hot showers, or subjecting yourself to some other form of extreme cold, will help you shed pounds more quickly.

    While results from the Cellular Metabolism Study suggest that dropping body temperature–for instance, taking a cold shower–may help weight control, it is far too early to know for sure. There is no evidence that spending 30 seconds in a cold shower has a meaningful effect on your metabolism, and the idea that exposure to cold has much effect on fat loss is based on very weak evidence.

    One of the first studies of the phenomenon was published in 1985, in the Journal of Applied Physiology; the authors looked at both calories burned and fat burned by men who took a 2-hour cold shower. The authors found that a cold bath increased fat burning, and that men were also using stored carbohydrates to provide extra energy for keeping them warm.

    Another study by the Maastricht University had 11 men spend a full day in the cool room, and the participants burned 76 more calories, on average. On average, a moderate cold exposure (61 degrees Fahrenheit, or 16 degrees Celsius) really does boost your caloric expenditure. In one study, scientists found that sleeping in a cold room (66 degrees F or 19 degrees C) for four weeks had several metabolic benefits, such as increased levels of brown fat and increased insulin sensitivity .

    A 2009 study found that exposure to extreme cold activated brown fat by 15 times in participants aged 23-24 years, meaning someone can lose up to nine pounds over the course of one year if they maintain the practice. Newer studies, however, have shown that adults actually have brown fat, leading some people to suggest that using cold exposure to activate our brown fat may quickly boost our metabolisms (and therefore, fat-burning). It is possible that thin adults might need increased metabolism from the brown fat to enable non-shivering thermogenesis to keep the body warm if the weather gets cold. When you start getting cold, your body goes into non-shivering thermogenesis, where it starts burning more calories to keep you warm, according to Livestrong.

    Similar to taking cold showers or baths, turning the temperature down in your home can be a safe, simple way to help boost your bodys calorie burning rates. Cold showers (or baths) are considered to be one of the easiest and safest biohacking techniques to potentially provide the calories-burning benefits of cold thermogenesis. When it comes to hair care, cold showers may leave your hair looking shiny, stronger, and healthier, while flattening out your hair follicles and increasing the ability to grab onto your scalp. Another popular theory is that since cold water does not dissolve fats and oils as efficiently as hot water, cold showers best maintain the natural oils coating the skin and hair, leading to better skin and hair health and appearance.

    Getting yourself cold, either by showering in freezing water or sliding in an ice bath, is supposed to activate the brown fats, which, in turn, create heat, boost metabolism, and burn regular fat. Just because cold activates brown fat, and brown fat is associated with lower weight, does not necessarily mean an icy shower is going to cause you to lose pounds like fuck. While it was previously thought to be nonfunctional, a number of studies from 2009 showed that brown fat does indeed burn energy when activated by brief exposures to cold (minutes/hours).

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