Can cold showers help with weight loss?

Dr. Zach Turner claims that cold showers have many health benefits, from reducing stress to boosting the immune system. Will they also help you lose weight and make the gym redundant?

 Illustrative image of a shower. (photo credit: PXHERE)
Illustrative image of a shower.
(photo credit: PXHERE)

Why is the entire internet telling you to swap hot showers for cold ones? Is there any truth to the claims that they can reduce stress, boost immunity and lead to weight loss? Turns out the answer is yes, for the most part. 

Eloise, 28, from Melbourne, told Dr. Zach Turner on Australian news she had seen various TikTok influencers touting the benefits of cold showers, including a 30-day challenge. She told that it sounded dubious to her and asked him to settle the debate from a medical point of view. 

Should she replace a steamy and pleasant shower with a cold and stinging one? Eloise really wanted the answer to be 'no.' 

Turner answered that the answer is both yes and no. Yes to the health benefits of cold showers, but no to replacing all hot showers with cold ones just for health. Hot showers won't kill you, but if you're into it, a few cold showers a week won't hurt.

Cold showers have several health benefits. Here are some benefits of a cold shower according to the doctor:

 Illustrative image of a man taking a shower. (credit: PIXABAY) Illustrative image of a man taking a shower. (credit: PIXABAY)

Cold showers give a pressure drop

Turner claims that a cold shower puts pressure on the body, which leads to a state of ‘hardening,’ leading to a gradual acclimation of your nervous system to this stress level. Eventually, your nervous system will be better equipped to handle the situation. 

Strengthening the immune system

Studies have shown that a cold shower increases the number of white blood cells in the body which protect your body from disease. Turner added that studies don't show how many cold showers a week to take but, he recommends aiming for 2-3 to see results.

Cold showers may help reduce depression symptoms

For those dealing with depression, cold showers can shock the body and send electrical impulses to the brain. Turner claims that this is similar to starting a car’s ignition. Cold water kicks the brain into gear and you’ll have more alertness, clarity and energy levels. Also, released endorphins lead to feelings of well-being and happiness.

What is the relationship between cold showers and weight loss?

Turner added that exposure to cold temperatures encourages the production of brown fat — a specific type of fat tissue that produces energy by burning calories. To shed the weight, he recommends taking cold showers after workouts.

Influencer Gina Stewart has said that exposure to cold revs up metabolism, according to scientists. Another advantage of cold is the reduction of inflammation, swelling and pain in the muscles. Many athletes have claimed to use ice baths to speed up recovery time after exercise.

Other celebrities who have used "cold therapy" to help their fitness include Zac Efron and Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth has claimed that cold showers help loosen up muscles and are like a "shot of adrenaline."

Cold showers leads to increased willpower

Turner said that influencers say that by taking cold showers one does something unpleasant to build toughness and a strong character. And Turner thinks that cold showers are a great way to train your brain to do unpleasant things.

So how can I become someone who takes cold showers? 

Don’t dive into the deep water.

Start with a cold shower once a week, then increase to two, then three, and soon all your showers will be cold. That's Turner's advice.

He added that cold showers are effective for us although for most of us circulation is the key, so alternating from hot to cold at intervals of 30-60 seconds has a similar effect.

Another trick is to slowly lower the temperature at the end of the usual hot shower until you feel uncomfortable. Then, stay under the cold water for two minutes.

Breathe deeply to get through that one. Next time take a colder shower and the next time an even colder one. If cold showers sound impossible Turner told Eloise that her hot showers won’t harm her or make her sick. 

There are other ways to maintain health such as drinking lots of water and eating fresh fruits and vegetables. So, don't fall for health trends and just stick to the basics.