Something I’ve been trying out during 2012 to reduce my body fat % to under 10 to get a 6 pack is cold showers and baths. This is an idea I got from the 4 hour body book by Tim Ferris.
The two main reason you can lose a lot of weight with cold shower/baths
1) Water “steals” a lot of your body heat at a much faster rate than air, what this means is that your body works harder to increase it’s temperature and maintain it at the normal level when in water. Think about it, calorie is actually “energy”. Your body needs this energy to heat itself up and stay at a consistent healthy body temperature.
2) There is what they call “brown fat cells” or the actual name of brown adipose tissue (BAT) around your neck and surrounding area on top of your back as the picture below shows. These brown fat cells are apparently responsible NOT for fat storage like the well known “white” fat cells but actually for the maintenance of your body’s temperature and they burn a lot of calories to do so. There’s some research all over the place about this but this NYtimes article sums it up.
So, I have been everyday starting a shower at a “somewhat” cold level (usually the middle section on the shower, 50/50 cold/hot) and then put it almost fully cold after having water on my body. And then I do 20 seconds to 2 minutes of the COLD water on my upper back to not only make me shiver a bit but to stimulate directly the area with the brown fat cells.
I also often take cold baths, especially after a workout. The best way to do this is to start the bath water with some cold water and then when it’s half full you take a quick COLD SHOWER, this makes it a LOT easier to completely put your body into the cold water bath after for up to 10-20 minutes. I tend to do 20 minutes as I use that period to meditate.
What Were the Main Cold Shower Benefits for Me?
My tenacity towards cold is now EXTREMELY high compared to before.
The most noticeable one now that the winter is approaching and I’ve done cold showers all of 2012 is I feel near impervious to cold! This is actually quite weird for outsiders, I probably was the last one in Montreal walking around with a T shirt. Currently, I’m the last one that still almost never wears a coat. Basically you “feel” that it’s cold but it does not annoy you at all, or barely. At most, some day/nights close to 0-5 degrees is my hands get a bit cold if I stay too long outside (20+minutes). Since when I leave my house it’s usually to go shopping nearby or to go to a bar/club nearby I’m always well within 20 minutes and still have yet to wear a coat.
Taking a cold bath after a workout greatly reduces next days muscle soreness.
After working out I tend to sweat obviously. So I transitioned to taking cold baths instead of a shower after a workout and I noticed that most of the time it greatly reduces muscle soreness the next day. I also tend to do high intensity muscle workouts where I go to my physical limit and would basically “kill myself” if I did not have a spotter or a machine stopping the weight at the last moment… My muscles tend to feel destroyed after these workouts and taking a cold bath works really well.
Wakes me up, extremely fast
Obviously this is not too surprising but cold showers wake me up very fast in the morning and I waste a lot less time in my shower. Growing up I usually was taking 15-20m showers… Nowadays 5m is all it takes before I have enough and want to get the f*** out of here. Quite good for productivity when you work from home like I do 😉
Other thoughts/possible benefits to test in the future
Anyway, so far I have not noticed any weight loss improvements but keep in mind I kinda distanced myself from my 6 pack goal this year as while I’m close, I need to completely drop alcohol for a few weeks and I’m not willing to drop my beloved vodka… for now. Also, a reason a lot of people are buying in the “cold therapy” is due to research showing how it might be good as an anti aging solution. Dr Jack Kruse is doing some heavy and interesting research on this. I’m not too concerted about this aspect for now but so far I saw so many benefits I’ll probably go down further into this rabbit hole in 2013…