Ice baths bring numerous benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing. In practices that go back centuries and span across multiple cultures, ice bathing can potentially reap results. Many people use a cold plunge to help them recover more quickly from strenuous exercise and others feel that bathing in ice water significantly reduces their stress while boosting the strength of their immune system. Another prominent benefit to ice bathing researchers are now looking at is its ability to help you lose weight.
How does it work? Cold temperatures have the ability to activate certain parts of your body for better performance. The result is more calories burned and potential better regulation of your weight.
What is Cold Thermogenesis?
According to Oxford Languages, thermogenesis is the production of heat, and it most often refers to heat production in humans or animals. ‘Cold thermogenesis’ sounds like an oxymoron then, doesn’t it? In a way it is.
Cold thermogenesis, or cold-induced thermogenesis, also known as CIT, is the process by which your body generates heat by increasing your metabolism when it's exposed to cold temperatures. In essence, your body ramps things up and runs its engines on high in order to keep your core body temperature stable when it's surrounded by cold. The ability to do this is part of what differentiates us as a warm blooded species from the jumping reptiles and snakes in your garden. Some think that this process, if engaged in repeatedly and safely, could help you lose weight.
Scientific Proof: Using an Ice Bath for Weight Loss
Science has shown that when you immerse yourself in cold temperatures, a certain type of fat on your body is activated to help keep you warm. Humans have three types of fat: white fat, brown fat, and beige fat. Your body stores white fat just under your skin and around your organs. Generally speaking, this fat is there in case you need it for later. Many of us have a little bit extra. You need a bit of white fat but not too much, to stay healthy.
Beige fat lies somewhere between white and brown fat, and it helps you burn fat. Brown fat is found mostly in babies but as adults you still keep a bit of it around. You can typically find brown fat in your neck and shoulder areas. It works by helping your body burn fatty acids.
Scientists are currently learning more about what brown fat does for us. One school of thought believes that activating brown fat can help humans fight off obesity. This is because brown adipose fat (BAT) does all kinds of things. It interacts with your gut hormones to tell your brain when you feel ‘full’. Brown fat also becomes activated when you’re cold to give better thermoregulation. Research shows cold exposure doesn’t increase your brown fat but it makes this layer of your body work harder and more efficiently. In essence, being exposed to the cold makes your body burn more calories. As long as you don’t compensate by eating more, by activating your brown fat you can potentially lose weight or better control your weight.
Benefits of Ice Baths
Ice baths present a great chance for you to speed up your fitness recovery while boosting your immune system and doing so much more. Many people swear by ice baths as a way to reduce stress, improve their sleep, reduce their anxiety, reduce chronic pain, improve circulation, and more.
Reduce the Harmful Effects of Obesity
Because ice baths can potentially help you lose weight, research is being done to see how a regular cold plunge might help combat obesity. As described above, ice bath weight loss has been shown to stimulate your body to burn more energy. This is great news. Some scientists have suggested that people trying to lose weight could benefit from taking a weight loss drug along with practicing regular cold exposure. Cold Plunge baths are crafted to go as low as 39 degrees fahrenheit. By safely soaking in your Cold Plunge regularly, and not increasing your caloric intake to compensate, you can potentially help tackle obesity.
The CDC states that in the US, over 40% of the population was considered to be obese in 2018. Unfortunately, obesity is known to be a contributing factor in heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer which form the leading causes of premature death in the country. Getting yourself on the path to good health takes time, patience, reflection and practice. Making your Cold Plunge a part of your new healthy routine can help you see the results you seek.
How to Perform Ice Bath for Fat Loss
How long should you soak in cold water to lose weight? How long you sit in your ice bath depends on your tolerance for cold and your personal preferences. Scientific studies haven’t yet shown exactly what is an optimal length of time to cold plunge to activate weight loss. This being said, those who swear by cold water immersion often stay in anywhere from 2 minutes to 10 or even 15 minutes. Of course, it’s not advised that you go beyond this as this can be dangerous for your health. Start slowly and build up your tolerance over time.
Immersing yourself in cold water regularly can help to boost the efficiency and power of your brown fat. This key point can potentially help you lose weight. As long as you don’t eat extra food to compensate for your munchies when exiting cold water, you stand to burn extra calories following cold water immersion.
Who shouldn’t plunge for weight loss? It’s important to know that people who suffer from cardiovascular disease should avoid exposure to cold temperatures as this can increase the thickening of the arteries. For most people, however, cold plunging brings about many benefits that can potentially improve your health in the long run. Talk to your doctor first before starting any new health regime.