Taking a cold shower can burn anywhere from 35 to 150 calories depending on the duration and temperature of the shower. A 5 minute cold shower may burn around 35-50 calories while a 15-20 minute cold shower could burn 100-150 calories. The colder the temperature, the more calories you’ll burn shivering and warming up.
How Does a Cold Shower Burn Calories?
A cold shower burns calories because your body has to work harder to maintain its core temperature. When exposed to cold water, your body reacts by contracting blood vessels to prevent heat loss. This causes shivering as the body tries to warm itself up through muscle contractions. The energy for this shivering burns calories.
The colder the water, the more violent the shivering and the more calories burned. Very cold showers around 50-60°F can increase metabolic rate by 80-100% compared to warm showers at 98°F.
Calories Burned Per Minute in a Cold Shower
On average, taking a cold shower burns about 5-7 calories per minute. However, this can vary based on:
– Water temperature – Colder water leads to more calories burned through shivering. 60°F water may burn up to 15 calories per minute.
– Duration – The longer the shower, the more overall calories burned. However, shivering intensity diminishes over time as the body adapts.
– Body composition – People with more muscle mass tend to burn more calories shivering.
– Gender – Men tend to have more muscle mass and brown fat, burning slightly more calories.
– Age – Younger adults tend to burn more calories than elderly in the cold.
– Brown fat levels – People with more brown fat burn more calories to generate heat.
So while 5-7 calories per minute is a reasonable estimate, an obese woman over 65 may burn only 3-4 calories per minute in a moderately cold shower. A fit 25 year old man could burn 10+ calories per minute in very cold water.
Calories Burned in 5 Minute Cold Shower
Taking a cold shower for just 5 minutes can burn about:
– 35-50 calories at moderate temperature of 68°F
– 50-75 calories at very cold temperature of 60°F
A 5 minute cold shower serves as a good introduction for beginners before building up to longer showers. It’s enough exposure to cold water to boost metabolism, but won’t leave you shivering for too long.
For most people, a 5 minute cold shower will burn 40-60 calories depending on factors like water temp and body composition.
Calories Burned in 10 Minute Cold Shower
Extending your cold shower to 10 minutes lets you burn more calories:
– 70-100 calories at 68°F
– 100-150 calories at 60°F
Doubling the shower duration from 5 to 10 minutes approximately doubles the calories burned.
However, remember that shivering intensity starts diminishing after the first few minutes as the body adapts to the cold. So the calorie burn per minute is lower in the last 5 minutes.
For a 10 minute cold shower, most people can expect to burn 80-120 calories.
Calories Burned in 15 Minute Cold Shower
Taking your cold shower to 15 minutes can help you burn:
– 100-150 calories at 68°F
– 150-225 calories at 60°F
A 15 minute shower is a significant calorie burner, especially in very cold water. However, after 10-12 minutes, the shivering response starts reducing substantially for most people.
So while a 15 minute cold shower can burn 150+ calories, a majority of the calories are burned in the first 10 minutes. Expect to burn about 100-175 calories during a 15 minute moderately cold shower.
Calories Burned in 20 Minute Cold Shower
A long 20 minute cold shower can burn approximately:
– 140-200 calories at 68°F
– 200-300 calories at 60°F
By 20 minutes, most people have adapted to the cold water and shivering intensity reduces. So the calorie burn per minute continues dropping.
While a 20+ minute very cold shower may burn up to 300 calories, it’s tough to sustain. Expect to realistically burn about 150-225 calories during a 20 minute cold shower.
Cold Shower Calorie Burn By Temperature
|Water Temperature||Calories Burned Per Minute|
|100°F (Warm Shower)||2-3 calories|
|70°F (Cool Shower)||6-8 calories|
|60°F (Cold Shower)||10-15 calories|
|55°F (Very Cold Shower)||15-20 calories|
|50°F (Near Freezing)||20-30 calories|
As shown, the colder the shower temperature, the more calories burned. Warm showers above 90°F don’t burn many calories. But as temperature drops below 70°F, calorie burn increases significantly through shivering and thermogenesis.
At 50-60°F, some extreme cold shower enthusiasts can burn up to 30 calories per minute. But such freezing water is tough to sustain for most people.
Cold Shower vs Hot Shower Calorie Burn
|Shower Type||Temperature||Calories Burned (for 10 minutes)|
|Hot shower||100°F||20-30 calories|
|Warm shower||90°F||30-40 calories|
|Cool shower||80°F||40-60 calories|
|Cold shower||68°F||70-100 calories|
|Very cold shower||60°F||100-150 calories|
Hot showers around 100°F barely burn 20-30 calories in 10 minutes. But cold showers around 60-68°F can burn 100-150 calories, over 5 times more calories!
The optimal temperature for fat loss seems to be 60-68°F to maximize calorie burn while still being tolerable. Going below 60°F burns slightly more calories but is tough to sustain for most people.
Tips to Burn More Calories in a Cold Shower
Here are some tips to help you burn even more calories in your cold shower:
– Gradually decrease water temperature. Start with warm water and slowly make it cooler over several minutes. This allows your body to slowly adapt and shiver more intensely. Going straight into freezing water can be shocking and may numb the cold response.
– Target 60-68°F water temperature. This seems to be the sweet spot for maximizing calorie burn while still being bearable. Buy a shower thermometer to monitor temperature.
– Do short cold cycles. Alternate between warm and cold water instead of staying in cold the entire time. The sudden change in temperature will keep making you shiver.
– Move around. Walk, jog or jump around in the shower to burn extra calories through movement and engage more muscles.
– Take deep breaths. Deep breathing activates the vagus nerve and helps increase cold thermogenesis.
– Practice regularly. Your body will adapt to cold showers over time, reducing shivering. Take at least 3-4 cold showers per week to keep burning calories.
– Increase intensity slowly. Going from hot showers to very cold showers will be too shocking for most. Gradually decrease temperature over several weeks to condition your body.
Whole Body Vs Partial Body Cold Exposure
You can burn calories from cold exposure by:
– Whole body exposure – Total body cold showers, ice baths, cold swims etc.
– Partial body exposure – Cold packs on torso, ice vest, hands/feet in cold water.
Whole body cold exposure like cold showers tends to burn significantly more calories as it causes systemic shivering across all muscle groups. It also exposes more surface area to the cold.
Partial body exposure tends to create more localized shivering around the exposed areas. But it burns overall fewer calories than total body immersion.
So while partial cold exposure has some metabolic benefits, whole body cold showers, immersion or cryotherapy will burn the most calories.
Cold Adaptation: Does Calorie Burn Decrease Over Time?
When you first start cold exposure, you’ll likely shiver strongly and burn a lot of calories. But as your body adapts over time, you tend to shiver less and burn fewer calories each session.
This cold adaptation is mediated by increased levels of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in the body. BAT helps produce heat to keep your body warm.
Some research has found cold adapted individuals can burn up to 300% fewer calories when re-exposed to cold vs their first exposure.
So expect your calorie burn to decrease as your body gets more efficient at heat production and insulating itself against the cold. But even after adaptation, cold showers still burn significantly more calories than hot showers.
Proven Benefits of Cold Showers
Here are some of the scientifically proven benefits of taking regular cold showers in addition to burning calories:
– Increases metabolism – As discussed, cold exposure activates shivering and BAT to produce heat and burn calories. It drives up metabolic rate.
– Burns fat – The calories burned during cold exposure often come from fat stores. Over time, this can lead to gradual fat loss.
– Builds brown fat – Regular cold showering activates brown adipose tissue (BAT), increasing the amount in your body over time. BAT burns calories and fat.
– Improves insulin sensitivity – Cold exposure can improve insulin sensitivity, helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
– Eases depression – Cold showers help release endorphins and other feel good brain chemicals that lift mood. The cold also has anti-depressive effects.
– Boosts immunity – Brief cold stress followed by rewarming activates the immune system and increases defensive white blood cells.
– Reduces inflammation – The cold can help decrease chronic inflammation levels in the body.
– Improves circulation – Alternating hot and cold showers enhances vasodilation and blood flow.
– Increases willpower – Withstanding uncomfortable cold regularly can strengthen mental resilience and willpower.
So in addition to burning calories, cold exposure offers many other physical and mental benefits. But it requires grit and discipline to sustain the practice consistently.
Is Cold Shower Weight Loss Significant?
While cold showers can burn 100-150 calories per session, keep in mind:
– A pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories.
– To lose 1 lb of fat per week, you need a daily deficit of 500 calories.
So clearly, cold showers alone won’t contribute major weight loss given the relatively small calorie burn.
However, when combined with a healthy diet and exercise, they can help enhance your calorie deficit and fat loss results over time. The metabolic boost may also improve fat burning during other activities.
But by themselves, the weight loss from cold showers will be modest and gradual. Don’t expect overnight results. Consistency over months and years leads to the best fat loss.
Who Should Avoid Cold Exposure?
Cold showers are safe for most people but certain groups should exercise caution or avoid them:
– Those with heart conditions – The cold can raise blood pressure and strain the circulatory system. Consult your doctor.
– Anyone with Raynaud’s syndrome – Cold exposure can exacerbate circulation issues.
– People with asthma or breathing problems – Cold air can trigger bronchoconstriction.
– Those with cold allergies like rhinitis – It may aggravate reactions and symptoms.
– Individuals with hypertension or migraine disorders.
– Children under 15 yrs – Their thermal regulation systems are still developing.
– Pregnant women – Cold exposure may not be completely safe. Maintain warm temperature.
– Elderly individuals – Thermoregulation and cardiac function may be impaired. Take care.
If you’re unsure about cold exposure, consult your physician beforehand. Don’t take health risks.
Taking regular cold showers can burn anywhere from 35 to 150 calories depending on the water temperature and duration. Colder water around 60-68°F maximizes calorie expenditure while still being tolerable. While cold shower calorie burn is modest, the practice offers many other proven health and mental benefits. Combined with diet and exercise, it can accelerate fat loss over time. Just be cautious about overdoing it and ease yourself in gradually.