The idea of taking a cold shower is usually reserved for pranks or juvenile jokes about feeling, ahem, over-amorous. Most of us would probably rather go without a good rinse than withstand frigid temperatures while trying to scrub ourselves clean, especially in the winter. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, though, you might want to think about braving a little icy water every now and then.
It all has to do with something called brown adipose tissue, also known as brown fat. Unlike regular (or white) fat, which can be difficult to burn and tends to build up in our bodies (causing unwanted weight gain), brown fat contains a lot more mitochondria, the little cell structures that burn calories and turn them into fuel for our bodies. They get activated in brown fat whenever we need to regulate our body temperatures in cold conditions — like a freezing shower. Luckily, you won’t have to stand under the water for too long to get your brown fat to start working.
We promise this isn’t an elaborate trick to turn you into a popsicle. A study published in the Diabetes journal confirmed the idea by saying, “Since cold robustly activates brown and beige fat, some investigators have suggested that moderate cold exposure could be used as a therapeutic approach.” See, it’s science! If you’re still reluctant to step into a cold shower, the research also claimed that surrounding yourself in a much less arctic temperature of 66˚F for two hours a day can help promote weight loss. Maybe this can help finally put an end to all those arguments with your spouse over the thermostat… for at least for a couple hours.
If you decide to go with the cold shower method, Healthline lists a few other benefits you might be able to enjoy:
- Waking you up (for obvious reasons).
- Calming itchy skin to help overcome the urge to scratch.
- Increasing circulation and blood flow, which can reduce inflammation and prevent cardiovascular disease (and give your skin and hair a healthy glow!).
- Relax muscles by reducing soreness post-workout.
All of that could be worth a few uncomfortable minutes under your shower head, right? Well, it at least won’t hurt too much to give a try if you’ve been struggling with shedding a few stubborn pounds.