Does Drinking Cold Water Help You Lose Weight?

Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Charushila Biswas MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Experience: 6 years

Just when you started drinking warm water to lose weight, “cold water for weight loss” pops up on your computer screen! Honestly, the internet is packed with such varied information on weight loss that it’ll even confuse the Gods! On a serious note, it is not wise to believe in anything that the internet is trying to sell. To find out if cold water really aids weight loss, I did a little digging, and shared the information that I gathered from various scientific journals in this article. So, scroll down to bust the myth and unravel the truth! Too dramatic, is it?

 Cold Water For Weight Loss – A Rumor With Logic!

 Rumor has it that cold water can help burn calories. And this seems like a pretty awesome deal as compared to controlling food intake and exercising. Moreover, the logic behind this myth is really convincing. Basically, it’s the difference in the temperature of the cold water (say at zero degree Celsius) and your internal body. It is said that in order to bring the cold water’s temperature to the body temperature (37 degrees Celsius), your cells have to work extra hard thereby utilizing the stored calories. The end result? You lose weight without sweating in the gym! But hey, nothing comes easy, particularly weight loss. And if it does, you better take a second look into it. Find out what scientific studies have to say about it in the next section.

Cold Water For Weight Loss – Is There Scientific Proof?

Cold Water For Weight Loss - Is There Scientific Proof
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While searching for concrete evidence on this particular weight loss myth, I found some interesting studies that researchers performed on human participants.

  • Researchers studied water-induced thermogenesis in 14 participants of average weight. They were given 500 ml of water to drink. The energy expenditure and metabolic rate of these individuals were measured. It was found that drinking 500 ml water increased the metabolic rate, 40% of which was from raising the temperature of the water from 22 degrees Celsius to 37 degrees Celsius. Interestingly, in women carbohydrate stores were used up as fuel to bring the cold temperature of water to body temperature (1). So, it seems that science agrees that cold water increases metabolic rate. But hey, this study was conducted on participants whose weight was normal, did not record the optimum temperature for weight loss, and moreover, only carbs got used up in the process of getting the water temperature to that of the body.
  • Another study found that drinking 1500 ml water did induce a thermogenic effect in the bodies of overweight participants. It helped reduce body weight, body mass index, and improved body composition but it was not cold water (2).
  • Just to get to the root, I also found another intriguing report published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 45 male adults were allowed to consume cold water (4 degrees Celsius) and water at room temperature (22 degree Celsius) while they completed two sets of 60-minute workout sessions. Their core temperature was measured every 15 minutes. It was found that the core temperature of the participants who drank cold water raised slowly as compared to those who drank the room temperature water. This helped increase the exercise performance of those who consumed cold water. And surprisingly, the bench-press performance of participants who drank cold water decreased (3). So, perhaps cold water can reduce the core temperature and increase your exercise performance thereby increasing your working out stamina. This, in turn, can help you lose weight. The problem with this study is that it was was not conducted on overweight participants, it was conducted on male adults and not on women, and this study doesn’t say anything about regular workout routines that include cardio, strength training, and weightlifting.

Now, before you jump into a conclusion, let me give you one more reason to rethink and take the better way and not the easy way.

You Should Know – The Big C And The Small c

You Should Know - The Big C And The Small c
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Adding ice to your glass of water is definitely refreshing but can it really help you lose weight? Increase metabolic rate? Yes, cold water can increase the metabolic rate. But Beth Kitchin of The University of Alabama at Birmingham says that the difference between the warm water-induced thermogenesis and cold water-induced thermogenesis is so meager that it cannot influence the scale. Let me explain.

If you ever check the labels on various foods, you can find calorie information. But what most of us do not understand is that there is a difference between the big C and the small c.  Calories (big C) is the amount of energy present in the food while calories (small c) is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gm water by 1 degrees Celsius. Basically, Calories and calories are different. The relationship between Calories and calories is 1 Calorie = 1000 calories (small c). For example, if you consume 20 Calories, it invariably means that you have consumed 20,000 calories.

Similarly, when you drink 500 ml cold water at zero degrees celsius and your body is at 37 degrees celsius, your body will burn 17,508 calories to raise the temperature of the water. But if you observe, the calorie is spelled with a small c and when you convert it to big C, it becomes 17.5 Calories only! So basically drinking 2 liters of cold water a day will help you burn only 70 Calories. Sounds like the not-so-cool deal after all! So, does warm water help in weight loss? Let’s find out.

Cold Water Vs Warm Water For Weight Loss

Cold Water Vs Warm Water For Weight Loss
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Now, let’s compare cold water and warm water to find out which one actually aids weight loss. According to science, warm water helps delay its absorption thereby making you feel full for longer. But cold water is absorbed quickly, which makes you feel hungry after a short while. But, cold water is more palatable as compared to hot water. Therefore, you will consume more water, but that will not guarantee you weight loss. Neither does drinking warm water. So, what should you do to lose that extra flab? Find out in the next section.

The Final Verdict

The Final Verdict
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Drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated and to lose weight. Cold water and warm water myths can probably work but indirectly. Like, cold water can reduce the core temperature and increase your exercise performance, which means you can workout more and lose weight. Hot water, on the other hand, can help suppress your appetite thereby making you consume fewer calories. But the key to losing weight is to drink 2-4 liters of water (hot or not) every day to keep your cells and metabolism active and flush out toxins. Now, let’s find out how you can remember to drink water even when you are super busy.

How To Remember To Drink Water

How To Remember To Drink Water
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Most of us don’t drink water because we simply don’t remember. So, here are few tips for you so that you can keep yourself hydrated and shed some pounds as well.

  1. Keep a bottle of water at your workstation within your hands’ reach.
  2. Buy beautiful looking bottles that have a sipper so that you can just grab it and sip the water.
  3. You can also stick post-it notes on the cubicle wall or inside the house in different corners to help you remember.
  4. Keep a glass of water near your bed.
  5. Make detox water for weight loss by adding fruits, herbs, and spices to make your water bright in color and also fortify it with the goodness of the ingredients used.
  6. Take a small sipper with you when you are working out.
  7. Drink 1-2 glasses of water right after you wake up.
  8. You can also keep a brightly colored mason jar at your workstation.
  9. Add few ice cubes to your water to make it more refreshing.
  10. If all the above fails, you can ask your smartphone to remind you to drink water every hour!

But only drinking water will not aid weight loss. Here’s  a list of lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to lose weight.

Water Alone Can’t, You Need A Lifestyle Change

Water Alone Can’t, You Need A Lifestyle Change
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  • Eat nutritious meals that would typically contain 3-4 servings of fruits, 4-5 servings of veggies and green leafy veggies, 2-3 servings of protein, 2-3 servings of healthy fats, and dietary fiber per day.
  • Eat 5-6 meals in a day.
  • Eat every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism burning.
  • Snack healthy with fruits, nuts, carrots, celery, tomato, freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices, buttermilk, coconut water etc.
  • Workout at least 3-4 hours a week. If you want to use the stored up fat as energy, you have to move your body. In fact, when working out becomes a habit, you will start enjoying it, you will become proactive, your memory will improve, and will not affected by stress, depression, or anxiety.
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Sleep early to avoid craving snacks in the middle of the night.
  • Stress is one of the primary reasons for weight gain. Develop a new hobby or learn a new skill to keep yourself occupied to overcome stress. You can even go on long walks.
  • Spend time with yourself and just relax.

So, drinking cold water will not make any drastic change in your weight. You have to follow a healthy diet plan and workout regularly. Of course, you need to drink an adequate amount of water. This is essential not only for weight loss but also to improve your overall health. So, grab that bottle of water and drink up. Cheers!

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Charushila Biswas

Charushila BiswasHealth & Wellness Writer

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