Have you ever watched people taking an ice bath in a frigid lake and thought they were…crazy? As it turns out, those swimmers taking the Polar Bear Plunge might be doing something positive for weight loss. Thermal Dieting, as the new trend is called, rests on the notion that when your body is cold it burns more calories. Although it’s quite likely people taking those icy swims across the globe aren’t doing it to lose weight, there’s new evidence that cold can affect the body’s metabolism and help with weight loss.
The idea behind the new concept actually rests on an old idea. The people who stand behind ice baths say the cold weather is a useful tool to help your body kick-start its metabolism, resulting in weight loss. It all rests on the idea that when you’re cold, you need to warm up; exercise achieves this and burns calories by working your metabolism at the same time. Still, there’s a little more to thermal dieting than just taking an ice bath.
Brown Fat And Weight Loss
Whether you’re out in the cold walking around the block or dipping into an icy lake, your body is reacting to the environment. Brown adipose tissue, more commonly called brown fat, gets activated when the temperature dips. This critical part of your natural weight loss machine works to keep you warm and burn off calories.
Of course, there are a few different techniques to motivate your metabolism using brown fat. Not everyone lives near a lake or other body of water to chase our weight loss goals in the winter. That’s why one of the recommended ways to shed pounds through thermal dieting is with an ice bath. This is a great way to relax and lose weight from the comfort of your own home.
The ABC’s of the Ice Bath
Taking an ice bath is really quite simple. All you need to do is fill a bathtub with ice and water and stay in there for as long as possible. Presently, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support claims that these ice baths actually work. Proponents of the ice bath like Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body (an excellent read), cautions that you need to talk with your doctor about the state of your health and whether the ice bath and thermal dieting is right for you. Remember that unsupervised exposure to cold temperatures or water can result in some extreme medical problems like hypothermia and loss of muscle control.
A simple solution to this (and one that’s slightly more tolerable) is to take cold showers every day. In the shower, turn the water to cold and focus the stream on your upper-back for maximum results. Train your body to get used to it and you’ll find yourself feeling refreshed and energized in the morning, and ready to hit the sack at night.
For those who want to avoid the ice bath but still try thermal dieting, there are other solutions. Going for walks in the cold with only your extremities covered is one way to start and even just turning down the thermostat in your home is another practical starting point.
There are many different factors that compromise a metabolic rate including age and weight, so you’ll need to tread thoughtfully with this new diet to ensure you can get the best results. Despite some of these considerations, though, it’s still worth a try and can leave you feeling slimmer and much more energized.