Does drinking cold water encourage weight loss?

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There should be little controversy about water being a healthy beverage choice, given that the majority of our body is comprised of water and water is calorie-free.  Can it, however, affect our body’ metabolism?  There’s certainly talk about cold water causing a temporary increase in metabolism.  Let’s review some research.

In 2003, Boschmann et al. published a study demonstrating that drinking 500 mL of cold water (22 degrees Celsius) increased metabolism by 30% compared to baseline, while drinking water at 37 degrees Celsius produced a smaller increase in metabolism, as measured by whole-room indirect calorimetry.  This effect was evident within 10 minutes, peaked at 30-40 minutes, and lasted over 1 hour. 

This study, however, was the only one that demonstrated such a positive effect of water on metabolism. 

Then, in 2006, another group of researchers (Brown et al.) challenged this assertion with a study of their own, because other groups had attempted similar studies but were unable to replicate those results, citing that water had no effect on metabolism.  Brown et al. used a more accurate form of indirect calorimetry and used distilled water to eliminate the possibility of an ionic effect on metabolism.  Their study did indeed demonstrate an increase in metabolism after drinking cold water, but it was minimal.  That change was likely due to the energy required by the body to bring that water to its internal temperature.  In general, though, the results of this better-designed, more careful study demonstrated no significant effect of water ingestion on metabolism. 

Is water of any benefit in weight loss?  Absolutely, but probably not because of its effect on metabolism.  More importantly, it provides a sense of fullness, and thirst may be misinterpreted as hunger that really just requires a drink of water rather than a snack.  Don’t stop drinking water, but don’t count on it to be your miracle weight-loss agent.

  • Boschmann, et al.  (2003).  “Water-Induced Thermogenesis.”  Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.  88 (12).
  • Brown, et al. (2006).  “Water-Induced Thermogenesis Revisited: The Effects of Osmolality and Water Temperature on Energy Expenditure after Drinking.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.  91 (9).
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3 Responses to “Does drinking cold water encourage weight loss?”

  1. thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!

  2. If you want to read a reader’s feedback 🙂 , I rate this post for 4/5. Decent info, but I have to go to that damn yahoo to find the missed parts. Thank you, anyway!

  3. weight loss should be easy to achieve if you combine proper diet with lots of exercise `

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