Ice baths are a well-known and controversial post-workout recovery method among athletes. Cooling down the body really well by jumping into a 10-15 degree cold bath is said to improve recovery by reducing inflammation and clearing out the waste products that you accumulate during a workout. It is said to be especially effective after tough workouts with all the waste products that you accumulate during these sessions.
I read about another less familiar effect of regularly cooling the body in Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Body. According to Ferriss, you can triple your fat burning by using different methods to cool down your body.
This is really nothing new if you think about it. Most of us know that the body reacts to cold by mobilizing more energy to maintain body heat and therefore burns more calories. Nevertheless, it is rare to hear about cooling treatments as a method of weight loss.
Cooling increases energy metabolism
According to the traditional approach to calorie counting, weight gain or weight loss = calories in-calories out. However, according to Ferriss, the human body is an open thermodynamic system that also has a number of other options for how it deals with ingested calories.
Examples include Michael Phelps and the fact that during his active career he ate about 12,000 calories per day – something he later admitted was a bit of an exaggeration. But it is confirmed that he and other top swimmers regain and consume up to four times more than a normal person’s diet.
According to the traditional way of looking at energy expenditure, with exercise and resting metabolism as the only controllable parameters, it would be an impossible equation to burn these amounts of calories in one day.
This is regardless of the type of metabolism the person in question has. The only logical explanation in this case is the water load and the fact that the body also consumes a lot of energy to maintain body heat in the cold water. In Phelps’ case, he spent several hours in the water during a normal day of training.
Cold therapy for weight loss – different methods
Without going into all the chemical reactions described in the book, it can be said that ice and cold therapy can have an effect on weight loss because the cold itself forces the body to produce heat (energy) to maintain balance.
The book mentions some interesting methods to try. Some of the methods:
- 5-10 minutes of cold showers before breakfast and/or before bedtime.
- This is quite a challenge for me because I like to shower hot, especially in the morning. Immediately after exercise, however, it works – especially now that I live in warm Malta.
- Placing an ice bag on the neck or trapezius for 20-30 minutes in the evening.
- This is a pretty nice method that doesn’t require much effort.
- Half a liter of ice water on an empty stomach immediately after waking up.
- According to studies, this can increase resting metabolism by up to 30% (!) for the rest of the day.
- Ice bath in a bathtub for up to 20 minutes at a temperature of 10-15 degrees.
Personally, I prefer to jump into the sea after my runs, which is possible most of the year here. Even though the water is not so cold here, this also has a nice cooling effect on the body, which helps to speed up recovery.
Another method that was indirectly mentioned above and which is also really good for injury prevention is swimming or water running. If you can also accelerate weight loss through the cooling properties of the water, it’s just as well.
Good products for cooling treatment
Nowadays there are many good products on the market for those who want to run with cooling treatment. Here are a few favorites:
Lumi Recovery Pod
An international success is the Lumi Recovery Pod™ Ice Bath. This is a removable insulated capsule with three layers of heat-insulating TPE protection that keeps the water at an even temperature.
In fact, regular tap water is enough, without even adding ice. You get a cold water therapy at a consistent water temperature of 15°C degrees or lower when placed outdoors.
Collapsible bathtubs more practical than ever before. These tubs have become extremely popular because they are easy to move both indoors and outdoors, as well as put away.
Targeted cooling therapy
If you want cooling treatment for certain areas, including the aforementioned Trapezius, this reusable ice pack from Arctic Flex is also an excellent product for targeted cooling therapy. The contoured ice pack soothes and relaxes the neck and shoulders, relieving pain and tension – and thus can also contribute to weight loss.
Read about the effects of cold therapy
Wim The Iceman Hof has become a social media phenomenon with his ice baths. According to him, ice baths are not only good for weight loss – they can also help you overcome diseases, improve your mental health and physical performance.
This is a really interesting book for those who want to learn more about the effects of cold therapy on the body.