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View Full Version : does taking a cold bath really burn calories?



not.quite.ana
10-12-2010, 02:00 PM
so i know that some athletes immerse themselves in ice cold baths to help with muscle recovery, but i read on an old post in this forum that when you take a cold bath your body burns calories to warm yourself back up again like when you drink cold water.

i've been taking cold baths after i read that haha, but how effective do you guys think that it really is? apparently a girl lost 200 calories per degree that her body had to warm up and she would lower her temperature 3-4 degrees. 200 sounds a bit too high but using up calories to warm yourself does make sense... not sure what to think!

roestessai
10-12-2010, 02:17 PM
When your body is cold, you start to shiver as a reaction of your body trying to keep itself warm. The added movement of shivering in a cold bath will definately burn more calories than relaxing in a hot bath. So you'd need the water to be cold enough to make you shiver, which I'm pretty sure under 0 degrees will do.
But it does have risks of hypothermia, so if you are planning on, say, taking a cold bath everyday I'd recommend you think long and hard about it first :)
Not sure about the actual calorie loss, but I certainly don't think it could possibly be as much as 200 calories per degree.

SkinnyCow
10-12-2010, 02:41 PM
I doubt you would burn 200 calories per degree. If that were the case, the entire world would be using cold baths as their diet. :-)
As much as our distorted minds are, is shivering in a cold bath really worth burning the few extra calories? After all, the average person can't subject themselves to frigid water for too long. I can barely stand outside for five minutes (in the winter, of course) without freezing my butt off.

Sosic.420
10-12-2010, 02:59 PM
I tried this months ago when i first heard about it. IT SUCKED MAN!
i was in the bath for like 30 seconds and i was like "hell no!". never again lol. You would only burn a couple extra calories, really not enough to do anything, safe yourself the trouble and just screw the cold bath lol.

Chew
10-12-2010, 03:06 PM
A cold bath will most likely slow down your metabolism, I don't recommend it. x

MoonChew. x

Renaissance
10-12-2010, 03:07 PM
I tried it once, and like Sosic, I said "Screw this shit!" after a few seconds. It's really not worth it. Being submerged in an ice cold bath is more uncomfortable than you'd imagine. For one thing, the shock of it literally took my breath away, I couldn't breathe for a good 5-10 seconds, then the pain started to set in...I swear even my bones got cold, and it wasn't just cold, it was PAINFUL.

Save yourself the trouble and do a few jumping jacks, you'll burn about the same amount.

SadCinderella
10-12-2010, 03:12 PM
I take cold baths all the time, when my meta is slowing down. The act of warming your body back up after being cold is what burns the calories (since a calorie is a unit of heat, your body must burn calories in order to warm you back up). So it's not so much the act of shivering as it is the act of becoming warm again.

Whenever I'm plateauing, a cold bath seems to bring my metabolism back a bit. What I do is start with a lukewarm bath and gradually add in colder water until it's all cold.

Starlight53a
10-12-2010, 03:47 PM
It takes 1/1000 of a calorie to heat 1 gram (of whatever, I guess) by one degree celsius. So if the water had to be heated up by like 5 degrees, and if you weighed like... (Let's use my weight... :p) 60kg, then that would be 6000g x 5 degrees then divide by 1000 and that's the calories you'd burn. So that example would be like 30 calories, so not a lot...

**WAIT a second!!! That would actually be 60000 x 5 degrees then divided by 1000! So that's 300 calories burned in the example!! So the 200 calories thing is basically right... :eek:

I think it's better if you drink cold water, 'cause if you drank like 500ml of water that was 10 degrees celsius, then the water would need to be heated up by 20-ish degrees to be body temperature, so that would burn like 10 calories... But then you could just do it over and over... :)

not.quite.ana
10-12-2010, 04:40 PM
It takes 1/1000 of a calorie to heat 1 gram (of whatever, I guess) by one degree celsius. So if the water had to be heated up by like 5 degrees, and if you weighed like... (Let's use my weight... :p) 60kg, then that would be 6000g x 5 degrees then divide by 1000 and that's the calories you'd burn. So that example would be like 30 calories, so not a lot...

**WAIT a second!!! That would actually be 60000 x 5 degrees then divided by 1000! So that's 300 calories burned in the example!! So the 200 calories thing is basically right... :eek:

I think it's better if you drink cold water, 'cause if you drank like 500ml of water that was 10 degrees celsius, then the water would need to be heated up by 20-ish degrees to be body temperature, so that would burn like 10 calories... But then you could just do it over and over... :)

wow really helpful! so i figured with that example i would lose 244 calories IF i was able to lower my body temperature by 5 degrees... which i don't think i could physically do. well, i've actually started to like taking cold baths after a hot shower so i'll probably continue anyway, but i'll try to chill my water even more :)

Adore
10-12-2010, 08:51 PM
Ugh, sounds awful! Not worth it in my books! I must admit I do tend to lose more weight in the winter but I would give it up for the tropics in a nanosecond!

Renaissance
10-12-2010, 09:15 PM
wow really helpful! so i figured with that example i would lose 244 calories IF i was able to lower my body temperature by 5 degrees... which i don't think i could physically do. well, i've actually started to like taking cold baths after a hot shower so i'll probably continue anyway, but i'll try to chill my water even more :)

It can take only a few seconds for hypothermia to set in, just so you know. You can pass out in 3 minutes or less, if my knowledge is correct. This whole "I'm going to freeze myself and potentially cause hypothermia to burn a few calories!" thing just sounds stupid. Just take a walk, really, is freezing yourself really worth it if you can just take a walk instead?

be_noticed
10-12-2010, 09:42 PM
well i wouldnt recommend it, it may work, who knows.
but first you have to know having small, essential amounts of body fat also means loss of insulation.
wouldnt want to risk pneumonia, personally.

not.quite.ana
10-13-2010, 10:39 AM
It can take only a few seconds for hypothermia to set in, just so you know. You can pass out in 3 minutes or less, if my knowledge is correct. This whole "I'm going to freeze myself and potentially cause hypothermia to burn a few calories!" thing just sounds stupid. Just take a walk, really, is freezing yourself really worth it if you can just take a walk instead?

LOL sorry i realized i wasn't clear, i meant chilling my water bottles :) and don't worry, the bath is definitely not ice cold, just cool enough that i get goosebumps haha. thanks for being concerned though ><

OzJenj
10-13-2010, 10:48 AM
Don't even go there! Once I read this I started doing it and I couldn't stop. I couldn't have a normal bath without feeling guilty. I even started going out on cold days wearing nothing but a t and jeans just to try and freeze my ass off. The worst part is that it didn't even make a difference AT ALL! When I started recovery that was one of the very first habits I started working on. I don't do it anymore, nor do I think I ever will again. It's not worth the trouble.

Starlight53a
10-13-2010, 04:05 PM
Body temperature is like 37 degrees celsius, so the bath could be like 32 degrees, and that probably wouldn't feel too cold but it would be...? That doesn't make any sense, but still... :)

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