Cold showers burn fat

Cold Thermogenesis: Does Cold Shower Really Help You?

Taking a cold shower is said to promote regeneration, strengthen the immune system and even help you lose weight. Cold thermogenesis has long been a hype among athletes. Here you can find out what's behind it, whether cold showering is healthy and how the cold kick can help you.

What is cold thermogenesis?

Thermogenesis means heat generation. Cold thermogenesis thus means that Production of heat under the influence of cold. If the body is exposed to a cold stimulus, it accelerates various metabolic processes, such as the provision of energy, fat burning, digestion and muscle activity. Heat is generated as a by-product. This is how the organism ensures our survival. The ultimate goal is to be ready to fight at all times and to be able to flee from a mammoth even in freezing cold.

A practical example from modern times: You wait for the train in the dead of winter and begin to shiver from the cold. This muscle contraction serves as protection. It prevents you from freezing to death by warming your body from within.

In the meantime, many athletes are practicing the principle of cold thermogenesis through a cold shower or a Ice bath advantage.

What does cold thermogenesis bring?

A cold shower in the morning is a horror for many, others swear by the freshness kick. Is it worth shivering under the cold jet? This is what cold thermogenesis brings from a scientific point of view:

1. Taking a cold shower wakes you up

Taking a shower with cold water takes some effort. But anyone who has ever dared to experiment knows that you will feel refreshed afterwards. Various studies (1) have confirmed the physiological effects of cold thermogenesis: blood pressure, respiratory rate and pulse skyrocket under the influence of sudden cold. Your body is put on alert. For you this means: After such a cold stimulus, you can start the day mentally fitter, more concentrated and more alert.

2. Cold thermogenesis increases calorie consumption

The core temperature of the body is around 37 degrees. The organism pulls out all the stops to maintain this temperature - regardless of whether you are exposed to extreme heat or cold. You can imagine that a dip in the ice bath demands a lot from your body. One effect of the cold shock: Your energy and fat metabolism is stimulated - and that from as little as 30 seconds under the cold shower jet. According to studies (2), this can increase the daily calorie consumption by an average of 3 percent. If you want to lose weight, you should also rely on other calorie killers.

3. Cold showers stimulate fat metabolism

Cold has been shown to activate (3) what are known as brown fat cells. They convert energy into heat and thus burn fat instead of storing it. So the more you take the plunge into cold water, the more your brown adipose tissue is stimulated.

Of course, showering alone won't get you anywhere. If fat reduction is your goal, you should also do regular strength training to build muscle mass.

4. Taking a cold shower promotes your mental strength

Scientists (4) have found that regular cold showers provide relief for patients with depression. In this case, the cold thermogenesis acts like a natural mood enhancer. The reason: low temperatures activate parts of the nervous system. Among other things, the hormones norepinephrine and beta-endorphin are stimulated. The messenger substances help you to build resilience, to feel mentally stronger and to lift your mood.

5. Cold showers strengthen the immune system

According to a study (5), workers who regularly take cold showers are less likely to report sick. Scientists suspect that the cold stimulus strengthens the immune system. The blood circulation is stimulated: the organs are reliably supplied with important nutrients. The body also secretes more white blood cells, whose job it is to fight viruses and bacteria. In this way a budding infection could be weakened or a disease could be prevented.

6. Cold helps with regeneration

Cold thermogenesis is particularly interesting for athletes. Studies (6) show that cold therapy can promote muscle regeneration and increase performance.

It is not without reason that professional athletes regularly go to the ice bath after training. Stimulated by the cold, the blood circulates faster through the body and can remove degradation products such as lactate more quickly. You will feel relaxed and ready for the next session in less time.

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7. Cold thermogenesis can relieve pain

Scientists (7) found that cold water applications can reduce pain. The blood circulation is increased under the influence of low temperatures. As a result, swelling or inflammation, among other things, can subside more quickly. In addition, cold can reduce the speed with which nerve signals are transmitted to the brain. Means for you that you perceive pain less strongly. It is not without reason that a cool pack is first prescribed for injuries.

Taking a cold shower: advantages and disadvantages

The positive effects of cold thermogenesis speak for themselves. But is cold therapy something for everyone? These are the advantages and disadvantages at a glance:

Benefits of cold thermogenesisDisadvantages of cold thermogenesis
● Improved blood circulation

● Higher energy level

● Faster muscle regeneration

● Higher performance

● Higher basal metabolic rate

● Improved fat metabolism

● Stronger immune system

● Pain reduction

● Greater stress tolerance

● Greater mental strength

● Improved mood

● Additional stress when the immune system is weakened

● Problematic with certain diseases

● Increased stress level

● More severe menstrual cramps possible

Anyone with a cold, fever, immunodeficiency or other illness should keep their distance from a cold shower for the time being. These include, for example, cardiovascular complaints, urinary tract infections and asthma. In case of doubt, always consult the attending physician!

The cold shock can put unnecessary strain on an already weakened body. The same applies to people who suffer from chronic stress. Stimulating the stress hormone norepinephrine can be counterproductive for them.

In summary, cold thermogenesis is not a panacea, but it can definitely help healthy people. Are you ready to take a dip in the deep end?

Cold thermogenesis: practical tips

Admittedly, the literal jump into cold water or, better still, into the ice bath is the supreme discipline and only recommended for experienced athletes. Beginners are better off starting with a cold shower.

It is important not to stress your body from 0 to 100, but instead to get used to the application step by step. Taking a cold shower is like exercising squats: you can shake slightly, and collapse is taboo.

tip: Before you stand under the ice-cold shower jet, you can feel your way with a facial bath. Splash fresh, cold water over your face and neck in the morning. If this is child's play for you, it can go on.

So that a cold shower stays healthy, you can use the following instructions as a guide:

  1. Warm phase 1: Start with lukewarm water and use it to shower from head to toe for a minute or two.
  2. Cold phase: Turn on the cold water. A temperature of 10 to 16 degrees Celsius is ideal. Start with a 10 to 20 second knee cast by holding the shower head against the inside of your legs. Work your way up slowly from day to day: buttocks, torso, then arms. The cold phase should last a maximum of three minutes.
  3. Warm phase 2: Get a quick rewarming after a cold shower. The room should be preheated for this. Dry yourself off completely and get dressed right away. Also move and keep your circulation going.

As soon as your extremities become extremely pale or turn bluish, stop taking the cold shower immediately. The same applies to dizziness or general malaise. Watch your body closely and listen to its signals. Only then will the cold stimuli bring you the desired effects.

Conclusion

  • With cold thermogenesis, the body produces heat under the influence of a cold stimulus. Various metabolic processes are triggered in the process.
  • Cold thermogenesis can have many positive effects, including a stronger immune system, more mental strength and performance, faster regeneration, pain reduction and higher stress tolerance.
  • The cold shower is the best-known application of cold thermogenesis, and an ice bath is the supreme discipline.
  • The body should be trained in the cold stimulus, so don't literally jump into the cold water.
  • Cold thermogenesis can put a strain on the body. Only healthy people should try cold therapy at home. Anyone who is physically or mentally ill should consult their doctor beforehand.
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  • (1) https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/44/3/179

  • (2) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18335051/

  • (3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19357405/

  • (4) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5854059_Adapted_cold_shower_as_a_potential_treatment_for_depression

  • (5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/

  • (6) https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2017/05000/Effects_of_Cold_Water_Immersion_and_Contrast_Water.32.aspx

  • (7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049052/