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How Many Calories Does a Cold Shower Burn?

If you crave hot showers, you’re not alone. But there may be one reason why you might want to skip the warmth for a chilling cold shower – weight loss!

Showers, whether hot or cold, typically have a sole purpose – hygiene. Certainly, no one expected that they could also help burn more calories, but cold showers do! While surprising, the phenomenon is truly fascinating when you understand what cold water in the shower does to your body.

That’s right – cold showers, no matter how chillingly uncomfortable they may sound, can burn a shocking number of calories. We’re not saying you should skip the gym but braving a cold shower can help you lose some fat too.

cold water shower

Here’s everything you have to know about cold showers and weight loss and exactly how many calories a cold shower can burn.

Does Cold Shower Help Burn Calories?

Cold showers can feel incredibly uncomfortable at first, especially if you’re not used to them. They are like a shock to the system, but they do have some health benefits.

Some benefits of taking cold showers include:

  • Waking you up
  • Calming itchiness
  • Increased circulation
  • Relieves sore muscles after a workout
  • Glowing skin and hair
  • Boosting weight loss

But like everything else, not all cold showers are the same. When it comes to burning calories, choosing the ideal “coldness” or water temperature is crucial. If you want help in burning some fat while basically doing nothing except your usual shower routine, it is best to stick to a water temperature that’s at least 60-degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’re still curious about learning how taking a cold shower can help burn calories, here’s how!

How Do Cold Showers Help Burn Calories?

When it’s cold, like when you take cold showers, brown fat generates heat to keep you warm.

But what is brown fat? How does it help with weight loss?

Let’s back up a bit to the two types of fat – one “bad” and another “good.” The bad fat is what everyone knows as white fat; the terrible guy everyone is complaining about and struggles to get rid of. Then there’s the brown fat, often referred to as the “good” fat because it burns calories to generate heat.

Unfortunately, brown fat isn’t always active. You need a button that can turn on and activate the brown fat to start burning calories to generate heat.

And you guessed it – cold showers activate the brown fat to generate heat, burning a considerable number of calories and acting as a fantastic assistant in your weight loss goals.

Cold Shower Tip for Weight Loss: The next time you take a cold shower, make sure the icy water beats down where you have the most brown fat: back, neck, and shoulders. 

This idea of experiencing cold temperatures to lose weight isn’t a new concept. In fact, studies about the phenomenon have been available for decades, the earliest was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 1985.

It’s a simple cycle, really – as your body temperature dips due to the cold water, your body enters a phase called “non-shivering thermogenesis,” where it burns calories in an attempt to generate body heat. As the temperature drops further, the number of calories you burn increases. Eventually, you will start shivering, which is also your body’s attempt to generate more heat by burning calories.

How Many Calories Can a Cold Shower Burn

The number of calories you can torch while taking a cold shower depends on a couple of things: water temperature and how long your shower is.

For instance, if you take a cold shower with a water temperature of a minimum of 60-degrees Fahrenheit, you can burn around 75 calories in five minutes. That’s taking into account that your shower produces at least 5-gallons of cold water per minute.

If you do the math, you can look at potentially burning around 225 calories if you usually take 15-minute showers. If you take showers in the mornings and evenings, you’re working your way to burning up to 450 calories daily while doing nothing, except your usual shower routine and braving the cold.

Do You Need the Entire Shower to Be Cold to Burn Fat?

Luckily, you don’t need to shower in cold water the entire time. If showering with cold water seems impossible to you, you can always start off with a lukewarm shower and gradually switch to a colder water temperature from there. Switching from lukewarm to cold can still trigger your brown fat to generate heat once your body temperature goes down. This means you can still burn around 75 calories if you stay under the cold water for five minutes, even if you started with a lukewarm shower.

Hot Showers vs. Cold Showers for Weight Loss – Which Is Better?

You can burn calories while showering, no matter the water temperature. But one thing is clear – you torch more calories when taking a cold shower than a hot shower.

Hot showers are relaxing and work as a mini massage to your back, shoulders, and neck. It can also burn fat, about 140 calories per hour. But who has time for an hour under a hot shower (no matter how relaxing it is)?

If you do the math, hot showers only burn about 35 calories per 15 minutes. But taking cold showers for around the same time can potentially burn more than six times as much. This is certainly enough reason to start switching from hot to cold water the next time you take a shower.

Are Cold Showers A Safe Way To Lose Weight?

Imagine burning 225 calories in a 15-minute shower – it is tempting to stay under the cold water for 60 minutes to burn even more fat. But of course, no one could, or should, spend an entire hour in an icy cold shower in the name of weight loss. Not only will it be a remarkably horrible experience, but it’s also terrible for your health and puts you at risk of hypothermia.

Too much is never good, including cold showers.

Still, taking cold showers is a fantastic way to burn fat without doing anything other than what you normally do when you’re taking a shower. While it won’t likely lead to extreme fat burning, cold showers are a nice supplement to your weight loss plan.