Using Cold Water to Lose Weight

By Mike Howard


Take a curious ex-NASA scientist and a forward-thinking pop culture author, and the result may be a revolutionary (and perhaps a bit uncomfortable) weight loss method.

Using the laws of thermodynamics, Ray Cronise has hypothesized that strategic exposure to cold will accelerate weight loss. He credits this method for his 30lbs weight loss in 6 weeks. Says Cronise;

Our body temperature remains constant and it takes a lot of energy to keep it that way, no different than heating your house… I treated my body like a thermostat… to see if I could run up the utility bill and get the furnace (my metabolism) running at full blast. Source

A seed of curiosity was planted in Cronise upon hearing of Michael Phelp’s prolific caloric intake. It dawned on him that it was the cold water forcing Phelps to fight to keep its temperature.

Using swimming and something called thermal loading, where the body is exposed to cold in various ways, Cronise applied some old military research and found that he could lose up to four pounds a week. Techniques include ice baths and chugging ice water.

Therein lies a paradigm shift – while traditionally we think of heating the body up to induce a metabolic boost – Cronise suggests focusing on cooling it down.

The theory will come to fruition in the form of a book by “The 4-Day Work Week” author Tim Ferris, where Cronise is a case-study and contributor. Among Ferris’ extensive research, he discovered a technique that uses temperature manipulation to improve fat loss by 300 percent.

Bring on the Skepticism

Dr. David Katz, founder of the Integrative Medicine Center and professor at Yale University, had this to say about the concept;

Being cold is uncomfortable. Frankly, if people are willing to be that miserable to lose weight they might as well try eating well and exercising.

A valid point and one of the best quotes I’ve heard in a long time. And while the old military research offers some reason to be optimistic, most of it focused on keeping weight on soldiers and not weight loss, per se. I haven’t seen a clinical trial with a control group to support the anecdotal experiences of Cronise.

Moreover, I live in Canada – I’m cold here 8 months of the year. The last thing I want to do after coming home from a cold rainy day is soak in a cold tub, or crush glasses of ice water.

So while the theory makes complete sense, I still recommend guarded optimism – sounds like a potentially moderately helpful adjunct strategy, to the standard eating better/less and exercising more. At best I would say this strategy is evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.

Would you try this out as a fat loss method?

Image Credit: horiavarlan


  1. steve

    dude, its the 4 HOUR workweek… not 4-day

  2. Willie Lethbridge

    It’s true! This is why I always work out in a cold room. Plus something about it really gets you pumping. Check out Isabel’s stuff…she has so many good resources on exercise. It’s at The Diet Solution Program.

  3. Dan

    Even though I live in the South (Atlanta), it does get cold here at times- esp. in the mornings. Most afternoons are much warmer. I ride my bike to work at the coldest time of the day (5 a.m.). It seems to me that when I ride at that time in the winter that I just may burn a few extra calories trying to keep my body warm. I would think this is only something that adds to the calorie burn of exercise, not a replacement for exercise.

  4. Lindsay

    Sounds kind of awful and yet intriguing. I could do the occasional ice water drink, but a bath of icewater? That sounds harsh.

  5. Diet Queen

    I figured this out years ago the only problem is I live in Florida and its never cold here..The best I can do is wear shorts in the winter LOL

  6. Spectra

    I already have a low body fat content and I get cold VERY easily. I live in an old house with no insulation and it’s usually cold in every room except the living room (where the wood stove is). I HATE being cold. I think I’d rather be fat than always freezing.

  7. Jim F.

    Genius idea, but being a sun-loving person — it would be miserable.

    Pass the broccoli.

  8. angie

    Makes sense to me as well. Having worked on publishing projects about the north and south poles, I know that the researchers there need to consume loads of calories just to maintain their body weight. It is a joke among the polar researchers that they must snack on butter to survive.

  9. Daejigirl

    I couldn’t do it. I’m very sensitive to the cold and so it wouldn’t just be uncomfortable to me, it would be painful. I agree with the Yale professor.

  10. Berzerker

    This is great news for me since I can’t afford to turn on the heat this winter…Yay?

  11. Naomi

    Ya Also u can do more exercise in winter season and controlled diet at that time help you to reduce weight.

  12. Lana

    It makes sense. I know a few of bodybuilder that will keep their house colder than normal just to get that extra calorie burning before a competition. It coul dbe dangerous though I can imagine some idiot getting hypothermia because he/she decided to try doing it improperly.