There is a wide collection of “magic” weight loss hacks. Some of them work, others don’t. Are cold showers good for weight loss?
Taking a cold shower might not be the first thing you want to do in the morning. Even so, you might change your mind if you knew that this morning habit can help you burn extra calories.
Physical benefits of cold showers for weight loss
There are both physical and mental benefits of cold showers. Let’s start with the physical benefits.
Increases amount of “brown fat”
Cold showers and cold in general promote the production of something called brown fat.
You have two different kinds of fat. Brown fat and white fat.
The main difference between the two in terms of physical composition is that brown fat contains more mitochondria, the power generators of the cell.
Brown fat helps your body generate heat. Partly because of this it burns more calories than white fat. The exact difference is not yet clear. You probably won’t see an increase of several 100’s of calories but every extra amount can help.
Exercising also helps you establish a better brown fat to white fat ratio.
Can improve your mood
Cold showers can improve your mood (1).
Using food to improve your mood is a pretty common practice for a lot of people. There is a possibility that if you can reduce the amount of time you don’t feel happy, you will turn less to unhealthy foods to improve your food.
Mood isn’t just a mental things, there are physiological attributes that influence it. Cold showers can improve these physiological things going on.
Mental benefits of cold showers for weight loss
The physical benefits are not the only ones that can help you lose weight.
The mental benefits are not something you should underestimate.
Willpower is a skill
You can improve willpower slowly but certainly by doing things you don’t want to do at first. The more you do these kinds of things, the more you get used to overcoming that initial “I don’t want to do this”.
The human body doesn’t usually love cold showers. So by doing these cold showers you essentially improve your willpower a little bit every time.
Willpower will come in handy sooner or later when you are trying to lose weight. You will have the feeling you don’t want to exercise, you will have hunger and cravings and that’s fine. You just have to not react to those feelings, and sometimes that takes some willpower.
Adapting a new mindset
The second mental advantage of taking cold showers for weight loss is the new mindset you start using.
When you take a cold shower you are basically telling yourself “yes, I will do things that are uncomfortable in the moment to be healthier and happier in the future”. This is extremely powerful and the mindset for success.
Unhealthy things are almost always pleasure for a few minutes in exchange for a worse future. Turning this around is part of the recipe for more weight loss.
The mental benefits alone might make taking cold showers for weight loss worth it.
Different ways and times to do cold showers
There are different ways and times for cold showers.
Let’s first touch on the time for your cold shower. Taking a cold shower right before bed may decrease your sleep quality.
In general, your body sleeps better if it’s a bit colder than during the day. A cold shower essentially makes your body compensate for the cold by heating up. This can reduce you sleep quality. Sleep is important for weight loss so a cold shower right before bed might not be a good idea.
Next, the difference is between different temperatures and different durations.
If your body is ready to deal with some stress the message is most likely the colder the more weight loss.
In terms of duration, you can go for a full duration cold shower or just a few minutes at the end of a hot shower.
These last two factors are your choice, for healthy people the general rule is the more intense, the better for long term health. Up to a certain point of course. If you start feeling dizzy, very cold, or anything like that you might want to stop.
Can cold showers be bad for you?
Cold showers are not for everyone.
They do put your body under stress. This is a good thing if your body is able to deal with it. It will become stronger because of it.
But when your body is already under a lot of stress cold showers might cause negative effects. If you have things like heart disease, high blood pressure, other diseases or just a lot of stress in general, it might be smart to speak to your primary care provider before you start doing cold showers.
Do cold showers make you lose weight?
Cold showers will most likely speed up your metabolism and thus help you burn more fat. The question is how much? And the answer to that question is not very clear. Chances are you will not burn 100’s of extra calories.
However, if you’re trying to lose weight, all these small extra results can really add up after some time. And if something can’t set you back it can only do nothing or help you.
Cold showers might be worth it for weight loss for the mental benefits alone. These will help you improve willpower and help you adapt a new weight loss mindset that sets you up for success.