Today I would like to do a short overview of the importance of taking cold showers or baths in the plan I am following. There is some evidence that cold showers help to increase the bodies ability to metabolize calories. In other words, its a good way to burn fat.
A Short Scientific Introduction:
The story starts with a man by the name of Ray Cronise, a NASA scientist for 15 years. One evening he was watching a television show covering Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. The story reported that Phelps consumed 12,000 calories per day and yet maintained his swimmers physique. Cronise knew immediately that the numbers did not add up.
Even with a healthy metabolism and swimming practice for 3-5 hours a day Phelps should have been a huge blob based on his calorie consumption. Cronise started to ask questions. Was Phelps misinforming the media about the number of calories he consumed? Was he some how able to burn calories like no one else on earth?
Cronise did some calculations. He knew a competitive swimmer burns about 860 calories per hour at competitive swim rates. So in order to burn off the additional 9000 calories per day Phelps would have to sustain more than 10 hours of continuous swimming everyday. Cronise knew that this was not possible. Not even for Michael Phelps.
To save you some time with the middle part of the story, Cronise eventually came to the conclusion that when figuring calorie consumption for Michael Phelps he had to also include the thermal load of the water. What does that mean? It means that as Phelps was in the water for swim practice his body had to work to offset the cooling affect the water had on his body. His body had to heat itself up, and that burned calories.
That is the basic summary of how cold showering became a big deal in health and fitness circles. From there Cronise went to work with self experimentation by enduring cold weather and cold water. During the six weeks following his discovery he lost 28 pounds.
Research has now shown that cold therapy fires up brown adipose fat (BAT). BAT, unlike white fat, which merely stores calories, burns them to produce heat. When your body gets cold, this metabolically active tissue kicks into gear to warm you up. This is all very interesting to me but it may not be to you. If you want to get a lot more in detail you can check out this article that Wired magazine did back in 2013. This article goes into greater depth with the science behind the cold.
Crazy Enough to Try:
I don’t want to bore you with any more scientific information. I have done o lot of reading and research on this topic and based on that I think it is worth giving it a shot. (It can’t hurt, right?!?!) So that is why I have included it in this plan. The evidence suggests that cold showering and ice baths can increase metabolism anywhere from 8 to 80 percent (a broad range I know). But the point here is that it does increase metabolism.
Based simply on that I am willing to give it a try. So cold showers here I come. You should join me.
My goal is to build up to 10 minute cold showers over the next 30 days. ( I outline the plan here) Beginning with 3 minutes and adding incrementally until I reach the 10 minutes. By the way 10 minutes is an arbitrary goal I have set for myself. I have not found any research that suggests an ideal length of time to submit to cold therapy.
Yesterday I began 20 Pounds in 30 Days – An Experiment to see if I could drop 20 pounds by the new year. Click the link above to see the outline of the plan. Here are my beginning numbers and the first day results.
Beginning weight: 240 pounds
Beginning Waist: 39 inches
Beginning Belly: 42 inches
Right Arm Measurement: 15 inches (Mid bicep)
Left Arm Measurement: 14 1/2 inches
Right Thigh Measurement: 22 inches (mid thigh)
Left Thigh Measurement: 23 inches
Beginning Chest Measurement: 43 inches
I am measuring weight and body measurement to indicate overall results. I believe on this plan I will lose fat and gain muscle and weight alone will not be a good indicator of the overall results.
Day 1 Progress:
I followed the eating plan completely.
On the workout part lets just say I failed to plan so I planned to fail. I did great with the push-ups and the squats. But the pull-ups are another story. I don’t have a good pull-up bar at the house. So you see, I failed to plan. I will fix that today and get back at it.
I would love to hear your feedback. Leave a comment below with your initial reaction to the thought of taking a cold shower or bath. Or, if you have already tried it let me know what it was like.
Have a great day!