The Surprising Way Cold Showers Could Help You Lose Weight

If you've heard of coolsculpting as a fat loss method, then you may have wondered whether taking a cold shower could have a similar effect. While taking cold showers won't directly help you lose weight, there is science behind the idea that they could be beneficial for your overall health — and could be included in your overall weight loss regimen.

When you start to get cold, your body goes into "non-shivering thermogenesis," in which you start to burn more calories to stay warm, according to Livestrong. In even colder temperatures, you will also burn calories, as your body begins to shiver to generate heat. Shivering also triggers hormonal changes that stimulate the formation of brown fat, which helps keep you warm and burns fat, per Mayo Clinic. Since Dr. Gerrit Keferstein explained to Healthline that most of the brown fat cells are located in the neck and shoulder area, taking a cold shower would be perfect to activate those muscles.

How to successfully incorporate cold showers into your weight loss routine

According to Livestrong, increasing brown fat levels may boost your metabolism, which can help with weight management. Shivering increases the body's levels of "irisin," a hormone that stimulates brown fat production similarly to exercise. But exercise physiologist Zach Carter cautioned against solely relying on cold showers to lose weight, per Cleveland Clinic. "Cold showers are not going to be your best route to weight loss," Carter said.

With that in mind, you may be able to work cold showers into a comprehensive weight loss plan. According to a peer-reviewed study conducted on mice and published in the Public Library of Science, being exposed to cold temperatures can improve your body's ability to regulate and maintain your glucose levels. The one downside to the approach is that people tend to eat more when they're cold, which may negate any benefits from taking cold showers. Cold showers could also cause hypothermia if the water temperature is too low, per Livestrong.

Other ways to boost brown fat production

If cold showers are too intense for you, you can also try decreasing your thermostat to a cooler temperature, per Livestrong. According to a National Institutes of Health study conducted on a group of men with an average age of 21, changing the thermostat from 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 66 degrees Fahrenheit for a month resulted in a significant increase in brown fat and a slight increase in fat metabolic activity. However, the numbers returned back to normal when the men spent the following month in a setting where it was back to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

That's why the most effective method to lose weight is still centered around managing a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly. By eating smaller portions and working out, you can build a caloric deficit that will help you lose weight. As Livestrong notes, just reducing your calorie intake by 500 calories per day could result in a reduction of one pound per week. Burning calories will also increase your irisin levels, which will lead to the production of brown fat. But if you do enjoy cold showers, then it won't hurt you, and may even help in your weight loss journey.