So in my last post I explained how beginning a cold shower regimen has jump started my weight and body fat loss. I figured I would give an overview of what I have learned from my own research and experience. First the principle it works on is most easily explained by Michael Phelps.
As Tim Ferriss explains in The 4 Hour Body even rigorous training schedule that Phelps followed couldn’t have burned the 10 or 12 thousand calories a day he was eating. The had to be another explanation to why he wasn’t gaining a ton of weight. The answer lied in thermodynamics. In order to keep his core body temperature from dropping while in the pool for that many hours his body had to burn calories. Simply maintaining that core temperature is enough to raise one’s metabolic rate fairly quickly. The detailed story, which involved a NASA scientist, is available in the book but that is the general premise.
So there are three options to take advantage of this metabolic boost:
- Ice Baths: filling the tub up with water and a bunch of ice until you’re laying totally submerged.
- Ice Pack: a large ice pack rested on the back of ones neck in the evening for 30 minutes.
- Cold Showers: 5 to 10 minutes of cold shower water running over you.
In a perfect world we’d all be using options number one. Unfortunately Mr. Ferriss reported seizure like shivering which didn’t sound like it was worth it. Option number 2 was very easy to do but I haven’t been seeing any real results from it. that left option three which isn’t as comfortable as the ice pack but definitely not giving me any seizures.
My typical shower consists of three minutes of a normal shower temperature for washing purposes and then a rapid change to an all cold shower for 5 minutes. During the cold phase I turn from facing away from the shower and then facing the shower every minute. I also make sure to wet my head and face a bunch of times. I also spray my legs, arms and under arms a couple times as well to make sure that my body is work as hard as possible to keep me warm. That is way being submerged is much more effective but this still does the trick.
Most people I tell about my cold showers say one of two things:
- I could never do that, I need my warm shower in the morning.
- That can’t work as well as you think it does, it is just a coincidence.
Well, I can’t really help number one except to say that it is just like jumping into a swimming pool. It is really cold at first and then you acclimate. If you are able to do that you can do this. In fact I feel much more refreshed and alert after the cold shower then I ever have from taking a warm one. The second one I can more easily refute. I have the data that shows diet and exercise being equal I lost more weight and body fat with the cold showers than I do without them.
I’ve seen many other people talk about skin, circulation and hair quality benefits for cold showers as well which if true really makes taking them a no brainer for most people.