The other night I was watching an episode of Naked and Afraid then the announcer said this:
(every 15 minutes the contestant spend shivering from cold, they burn as much fat as they would from an hour of exercise)
This got me thinking, could switching to a cold shower really help me to burn more calories and in turn shed more weight?
The premise is that cold temperatures raise your resting metabolic rate. You lose body heat to cold air, so your heart rate has to rise, not only keep your core temperature at 98.6 degrees but also to guarantee blood flow to your brain, muscles and internal organs. To do this your cardiovascular system reduces blood flow to your skin surface and extremities by means of blood vessel constriction. Your caloric needs rise, your body taps into its glucose stores at five times the rate it does during warm weather and your body also burns more fat for internal heat. These adaptations, plus shivering–which increases muscle warmth–require increased heart rate. This is because the relationship between heart rate and calorie expenditure is relatively linear
So I came up with the most scientific test I could think of to test and see how much benefit I could gain from taking a cold shower versus a hot one.
Here is the plan:
I’ll be taking the coldest shower possible, depending on where you live, the temperature of a cold shower can vary. Where I live, it’s cold right now, and so is my cold water, coming in right around at 50 degrees fahrenheit, that’s 10 degrees celsius.
I’ll be standing in the cold shower for 15 minutes, turning my body so the cold water hits the different parts of my body continually to get me as cold as possible so I can produce the most amount of shiver possible.
To monitor myself, I wore my fitbit, which records my heart rate. This will allow me to determine how the cold affects my heart rate while in shower. Based on my heart rate and my other body measurements, my fitbit is then able to calculate how many calories I burnt in total while taking a cold shower.
Then, I will do the exact same experiment, except with a hot shower, around 105 degrees fahrenheit, about 40.5 celsius.
I’ll then compare the data between two to determine if the sacrifice is worth the reward regarding weight loss.
With a plan underway, I began my quest to collect the data.
Cold Shower Results
So despite the fact that jumping into a cold shower makes it feel like your testicles are going to ascend back up into your body, never to return again, my heart rate really only jumped up a few beats a minute, though my breathing increased rapidly.
Half way through the shower, I really began to shiver, my heart rate had climbed up to 103 beats per minute and I was in the fat burning zone, according to my FitBit. However my heart rate only stayed in the fat burning zone for approximately 5 minutes of the entire 15 minute long shower.
In total, my FitBit calculated that the shower only burnt 65 calories, far from an hours worth of exercise.
On a side note, I started out with a body temperature of 97.7 before the shower, and after the shower my temperature was so low my thermometer could even get a reading, it ended up taking over an hour to get a reading with my thermometer, which was 97.3. So I definitely got really cold and a lot of shivering happened.
Hot Shower Results
Now it’s time to measure my results in a hot shower, besides it being much more pleasant compared to the cold shower, my heart rate actually climbed to 119 beats per minute. My heart rate stayed much higher overall when compared to the cold shower, staying in the fat burning zone for nearly the entire time and after 15 minutes, my body had burnt 120 calories.
Now that I had these numbers, I wanted to see how they stacked up to just sitting still and moderate exercise. While sitting still, I had an average heart rate in the 60’s and burnt just 21 calories.
While simply walking in place for 15 minutes got my heart rate up to 108 beats per minute, with the average being in the upper 90’s and burnt 132 calories in total.
This begged the question, how many calories would I burn if I walked in place while taking a hot shower?
While walking in a hot shower I got my heart rate up to 135 beats per minute and burned 130 calories in the 15 minutes. Obviously this was just for fun, but now we know.
In conclusion, I determined that if I took a 15 minute cold shower everyday, I could theoretically lose 6.8 pounds a year. However if I stuck with a hot shower, I could theoretically lose 12 and a half pounds a year. I think I’ll stick with the hot shower.
Thanks for watching, I’ll see you in the next one.