On one hand, weight loss seems so simple. The extra weight we want to lose is usually made up mostly of excess fat. So the more excess fat you lose, the more weight you’ll lose, right? If only it was that easy! We’d all be in pencil dresses and skinny jeans.
Healthy and sustained weight loss is far more involved. One of the issues that many people aren’t aware of is that there are two types of fat in our bodies: white fat and brown fat. Another characteristic of weight loss that adds to its complexity is the sheer amount of advice and methods that claim to help you shed pounds. One of those is taking cold showers. Recent studies have shown that cold showers might have a big impact on your body’s fat-burning capabilities. And that impact is related to study results that link cold showers to stimulating brown fat activity, which in turn is linked to losing weight.
In this post, we’ll look at the differences between brown fat and white fat, and why cold showers may help you lose weight.
White Fat vs Brown Fat
The most abundant fat in our body is white fat. The term ‘body fat’ generally refers to white fat. White fat cells are where the energy you get from the foods you eat is stored until your body needs it. The extra energy that you get from overeating or from nutrient-poor foods (like those that are high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and empty calories) is also stored in white fat cells, but it doesn’t get burned. And that leads to weight gain, among many other health-related issues.
Brown fat cells are very efficient at burning calories to generate heat and regulate your body temperature. They are more abundant in infants and hibernating animals that need to stay warm and healthy. But adult humans also have small amounts of active brown fat.
In studies with mice, brown fat was shown to burn more calories when the mice were overfed. In other words, the brown fat helped protect the mice from obesity. And mice that naturally had more brown fat were shown to be healthier and slimmer.
Studies with humans have also linked higher levels of brown fat with lower body weight.
The Link Between Cold Showers and Brown Fat Activation
Cold showers have been credited with lowering depression and anxiety, reducing pain, easing inflammation, improving immune function, and increasing productivity. And cold showers have also been shown to increase metabolism, which can help you lose weight.
Research results confirm the relationship between cooler temperatures and more brown fat activity. A simple example is the shivering you do when you are cold is actually your body using energy to keep you warm.
But, studies show that you would need to spend a lot of time in colder temperatures to see even modest weight loss. A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that participants who spent two hours a day in 66-degree temperatures lost one to two pounds over the course of six weeks.
So you’d have to take really long cold showers to see any direct benefit for your weight loss. But that doesn’t mean that cold showers can’t be a valuable part of your weight management program.
How Cold Showers Can Help You Lose Weight
The fact that cold showers aren’t a standalone solution for losing doesn’t mean they can’t help lower your weight. They have many benefits beyond weight loss. And many of those benefits, among others, can contribute to the success of your weight management program.
1. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Cold showers have been found to play a role in blood sugar regulation. Greater insulin sensitivity can help prevent insulin resistance, which is often associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
2. Improves Recovery
Cold showers can reduce muscle and joint inflammation and soreness following physical activity. And, by speeding recovery, they can help you stay more active.
3. Helps You Be More Resilient
By doing something that temporarily makes you uncomfortable, like taking a cold shower, you can increase your mental and physical resilience. Conquering your ‘fear’ of cold showers can make it easier to conquer other challenges in your life, like weight loss.
4. Helps You Feel Better About Yourself
All of the benefits of cold showers we listed earlier, including less depression, anxiety, pain, inflammation, and more immunity and productivity, contribute to your overall sense of well-being. Feeling better about yourself can make you more inclined to invest the time and effort needed for self-improvement.
To find out more about healthily losing weight, call or visit your nearest Herbal One location where our nutrition counsellors are ready to answer your questions and help you.
If you found this post helpful, check out our recent article “How To Overcome Procrastination.”