Does cold water immersion help with weight loss?

Does cold water immersion help with weight loss?

What happens when you get cold? 

You shiver. That's your body working, literally burning calories to heat you up! According to a study, cold-water therapy at 14℃ increased metabolism by 350%. The higher your metabolism the more efficient you are at converting nutrients or stored body fat into energy. A higher metabolic rate will greatly increase body fat weight loss.

So the colder your body is, the harder it is working internally to heat itself up, burning excess calories along the way. 

How does cold immersion fat burning work?

Cold water immersion is a type of Hormetic Stress. Your body benefits from such stressors (such as ice bathing), because the shock is enough to jump-start neural and hormonal processes that help you improve your endocrine system.

The stress however, is not enough to cause damage… It can simply be described as ‘’the sweet spot’’!

The fat burning process itself is kick-starter through 2 pathways. A generous increase in brown fat cells by 250% and an increase in basal metabolic rate by 350%! 

Let's start by looking at the so called ‘’brown fat’’

What is ‘’brown fat’’ and why does increasing it cause weight loss?

Cold water immersion causes a shock increase of Norepinephrine. This is a chemical neurotransmitter, which signals for an increase in mitochondrial bio-genesis. This process leads to a mitochondrial cell increase by 250%. 

This is important, because Mitochondria are the energy producers in the body.

They position themselves in fat and muscle tissue. The more of them you have in your fat, the browner it will appear and your body will be very efficient in burning it for energy.

Simple put ice baths significantly increase the number of mitochondria in fat cells, Mitochondria burn the fat for energy, making it seem brown in the process. It’s not actually the fat that is brown its the Mitochondria working to burn it off. 

So by taking an ice bath, you help your body utilize stored fat by burning it, making you leaner, and giving you more energy in the process! Cold water immersion will even boost your mood and happiness.

How many calories can you burn in an ice bath?

As your body is trying to get warm it will shiver to produce heat. The heat production costs energy, the energy costs calories. Studies have recorded a metabolic increase due to cold exposure, that could burn about 62 calories in 15 minutes, while an hour of cold exposure can burn up to 400.

That’s as many calories as a good workout will burn, but you can’t really be expected to spend an hour in the ice bath…

However the short term burning of calories is not the goal, think long term. You are starting a thermogenic process that improves your body’s ability to burn off fat first and meet your energy goals. Even once you are not in the ice bath, you have already increased the concentration of mitochondria in your white fat, making it brown. This makes it easier for your body to use fat as fuel and as a side effect you get leaner and more energetic.

How often should you take ice baths for weight loss?

It’s not necessary to take ice baths every day to increase your mitochondria and metabolic capacity for burning fat. You can start off at a lower rate! 

Here is a table to help you begin.

Temperature - (+5°C)
Time of cold exposure - 30 - 60 seconds
Weekly sessions - 3 days
Total therapy duration - 4 weeks


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