Drinking plenty of fluids is an essential part of weight loss. But, does drinking cold water vs. warm water benefit weight loss?
Let’s find out.
The Benefits of Water and Weight Loss
Consuming enough fluids is critical for weight loss. The reason for drinking more water helps individuals lose weight is multi-faceted.
Let’s now look at the various ways drinking water supports weight loss.
Reduces Calorie Intake
Research notes that consuming ~16oz (500 ml) water before a meal reduces energy (calorie) intake, which results in more significant weight loss compared to a reduced-calorie diet alone. <1>
Other research finds that drinking 500mL water before breakfast decreased the number of calories consumed during the meal by 13%. <2>
Boosts Energy Expenditure
Weight loss essentially boils down to burning more calories per day than you consume.
Research has shown that consuming water may increase resting metabolic rate (RMR) between 24–30% within 10 minutes of drinking water. <2,3>
It bears mentioning that this minor boost in metabolic rate only lasts around 60 minutes, though.
Additionally, studies in overweight women find that increasing water intake leads to an additional 4+lbs (2kg) of weight loss. <4>
Interestingly, the women in this study did NOT make any lifestyle changes (such as exercise) except adding more water into their daily diets.
Drinking Cold Water for Weight Loss
The sheer number of fitness, nutrition, and supplementation myths surrounding weight loss is simply astonishing.
One of the biggest fallacies told to dieters is that drinking cold water boosts metabolism and helps you lose weight faster. This idea stems from the notion that our bodies expend energy (burn calories) to warm up. Therefore, by drinking lots of cold water each day, your body has to burn extra calories to keep you warm continually.
Sounds pretty good in theory, doesn’t it?
The difference in the number of calories burned while drinking a glass of ice-cold water rather than a glass of warm water or room temperature water is only about eight calories.
And, while drinking more water can help you lose weight, the reason it does so isn’t due to your body having to raise its temperature to process the cold water.
You see, your metabolism is comprised of several factors, including:
- Basal metabolic rate (the bare minimum amount of energy to keep you alive at rest),
- Energy burned during exercise,
- Energy burned during non-exercise activity (fidgeting, tapping your toes, blinking your eyes, etc.), and
- Energy burned digesting and absorbing food (also known as the thermic effect of feeding, TEF)
Your resting metabolic rate accounts for about 70% of your total daily energy expenditure. In contrast, physical activity (both exercise and non-exercise activity) accounts for 20%, and digestion accounts for a paltry 10% of your daily energy expenditure.
What this means is that trying to boost your metabolic rate by drinking lots of cold water each day is a very inefficient means to do so.
Drinking 2 liters of water per day only boosts energy expenditure by approximately ~95 calories. <3> That's a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of calories your body burns each day.
So, How Does Drinking More Water Help You Lose Weight?
Simply put, when you drink more water during the day, you are replacing other sources of calorie-containing beverages like juices, gourmet coffees, energy drinks, soda, and alcoholic beverages.
Since water contains no calories and all of those other options contain a significantly higher number of calories, making the switch to water reduces your daily calorie intake, which supports weight loss.
Furthermore, when you do a water “pre-load” before a meal (drinking a tall glass of water before eating), you reduce appetite. This means you’ll consume fewer calories during your meal, which again decreases your total energy intake.
Lastly, staying hydrated also helps you perform to your best mentally and physically, which allows you to burn more calories while you are working out.
Benefits of Drinking Warm Water
Drinking warm water can help soothe and stimulate your digestive tract.
One of the most important roles water serves in the body is as a lubricant for secretions in the GI tract, which helps your body process and excrete waste. <5>
Supports Joint Health
Water also helps from lubricating fluids for joints and acts as a shock absorber during physical activity. <5>
This function is important for the brain and spinal cord and is particularly important for the fetus, which is protected by a water cushion.
We already mentioned that drinking warm water can stimulate the digestive tract and helps “move” things along as your body processes nutrients from food and excretes the waste.
Dehydration can be an underlying cause of constipation.
Drinking enough water each day can help prevent this from happening and maintain regularity.
May Improve Swallowing
Many individuals have struggled to swallow, often having the sensation of food being "stuck" in their esophagus.
Research finds that drinking warm water can help these individuals swallow and digest their food more comfortably. <6>
May Reduce Stress
Drinking a cup of warm milk or tea before bed is an age-old remedy to take the edge off and help people wind down before sleep.
Research finds that consuming hot liquids (such as coffee and tea) helped lower stress and reduce feelings of anxiety. <7>
Researchers note that some of the effects are attributed to the caffeine contained in tea and coffee. Still, they also state that the warm temperature of the liquid also contributed to the improvement in mood.
Ways to Increase Water Intake
Our bodies are made of approximately 60% water, and water plays numerous supporting roles within the body, several of which we’ve described above.
Unfortunately, many individuals don’t consume enough water each day.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to increase water intake each day:
Eat Fruits and Veggies
In addition to being packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, fresh fruits and vegetables also contain water (and fiber, too!).
These foods contribute to your daily fluid intake and help keep you hydrated (and feeling fuller).
Set an Alarm
We all have those days when we're slammed with "to-dos," be it work, family, or social obligations.
In this haste to get everything done (and keep all interested parties happy), we let our nutrition and fluid intake slide.
Setting a reminder to drink water can help make sure you stop every so often and consume additional fluids.
Use a Refillable Water Bottle or Shaker
Carrying around a refillable water bottle or shaker cup and sipping on it throughout the day is another easy way to help increase water intake.
By always having it at the ready, you’ll have a constant reminder to stop and take a sip.
Drink a Glass Immediately Upon Waking
One of the easiest ways to increase your water intake is to keep a glass full of water on your nightstand. That way, when you wake up, all you need to do is roll over and immediately drink it.
In addition to increasing your daily fluid intake, research finds that having a glass of cold water in the morning may increase wakefulness and improve alertness. <8>
What if I Don’t Like Drinking Plain Water?
A common complaint among people who don't drink enough fluids each day is that they don't enjoy the taste of "plain" water. As a result, they turn to drink soda, juice, or some other sort of calorie-containing liquid.
Rather than guzzling down an endless stream of sodas, energy drinks, and juices, you can try flavoring your water by adding in slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or other fruit.
You can also purchase an inexpensive fruit-infuser water bottle.
Some of our favorite fruit combinations are strawberry-kiwi, strawberry-lime, lemon-lime, and cucumber-lemon.
Additionally, you can also use different flavored supplements that are sugar-free.
Steel Fuel® is an all-in-one BCAA + hydration formula supplying 5 grams of 2:1:1 BCAA per serving along with essential electrolytes. Together, these ingredients support muscle repair, protein synthesis, and hydration.
Steel Multi-V™ is an advanced multivitamin and multimineral complex supplying over 30 vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients that help support the increased nutrient demands of physically active individuals.
Add a scoop of either Steel Fuel® or Steel Multi-V™ to your cup of water and enjoy a sugar-free beverage that helps you hit your daily fluid intake goals.
The Bottom Line on Drinking Warm Water vs. Cold Water for Weight Loss
In the grand scheme of things, drinking cold water or warm water will not confer any magical fat loss effects, outside of helping you stay hydrated.
Consuming enough water each day supports health and weight loss, but it’s not due to some magical “detoxification” or boost in metabolism.
The reason drinking water supports weight loss is that it helps displaces other calorie-containing beverages, and may help reduce calorie intake at mealtime, both of which decrease your overall daily calorie intake.
- Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, et al. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(2):300–307. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.235
- Davy BM, Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Wilson KL, Davy KP. Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(7):1236–1239. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.04.013
- Boschmann, M., Steiniger, J., Hille, U., Tank, J., Adams, F., Sharma, A. M., … Jordan, J. (2003). Water-induced thermogenesis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 88(12), 6015–6019. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-030780
- Stookey, J. D., Constant, F., Popkin, B. M., & Gardner, C. D. (2008). Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 16(11), 2481–2488. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2008.409
- Jéquier, E., Constant, F. Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. Eur J Clin Nutr 64, 115–123 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2009.111
- Ren Y, Ke M, Fang X, et al. Response of esophagus to high and low temperatures in patients with achalasia. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2012;18(4):391–398. doi:10.5056/jnm.2012.18.4.391
- Quinlan, P., Lane, J. & Aspinall, L. Effects of hot tea, coffee and water ingestion on physiological responses and mood: the role of caffeine, water and beverage type. Psychopharmacology (1997) 134: 164. https://doi.org/10.1007/s002130050438
- Edmonds, C. J., Harte, N., & Gardner, M. (2018). How does drinking water affect attention and memory? The effect of mouth rinsing and mouth drying on children’s performance. Physiology & Behavior, 194, 233–238. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.06.004