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Why Doctors Say Putting Ice in Your Water Helps You Lose Weight

ice in water weight loss

Can putting ice in your water help you lose extra pounds? Doctors believe so. Imagine losing 10 pounds without changing your diet or exercising -- all because you put ice in your daily glasses of water!


Can the Temperature of the Water You Drink Impact Weight Loss?

If you're diet- and weight-conscious, then you know drinking plenty of water is essential for weight loss. But did you know that the temperature of that water can impact your weight loss?

It's true! Drinking ice cold water burns more calories than drinking tepid or moderately cool water. This occurs because your body is consistently working to maintain a stable body temperature of 98.6 degrees, so you spend a few extra calories heating that ice water to body temperature.

According to FitDay.com, drinking an ice cold glass of water (a glass equals 8 ounces) helps you burn eight additional calories. And while many are quick to dismiss these eight calories as too little to make any significant difference, it's important to consider the cumulative effect over time. After all, weight loss is a long-tail game, right?

So let's do the math. You're burning eight calories to heat each glass of water to body temperature. The American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide recommends that a healthy, sedentary adult should drink a minimum of 9 to 12 cups of water per day. A cup equals 8 ounces of fluid.

But note that this water consumption recommendation is for sedentary adults. If you're trying to lose weight, then chances are, you've been exercising. You're probably a bit more active than a typical “sedentary” adult. As a result, your water intake requirements will be a bit higher. There's also a bit of variation depending upon your body size and activity level. A large man who's exercising for two hours a day will need a lot more water than a small woman who's exercising for 30 minutes a day.

For our calculations, let's say you're drinking 12 glasses of water per day since you're active and exercising. It's not always possible to drink ice water while you're out and about because ice has a fault: it melts. Let's just say that 10 of your daily 12 glasses of water are ice water. 10 times 8 is 80 -- this means you're burning 80 calories a day on heating that ice water to body temperature!

According to the Mayo Clinic, one pound of fat is comprised of 3,500 calories. So if you're expending 80 additional calories per day on drinking ice water, this adds up to one pound of weight loss in just under 44 days (43.75 days, to be precise). Over the course of a year, this adds up to more than eight pounds of body weight! That's not too shabby for doing absolutely nothing different other than adding a few ice cubes.

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Consider the impact over a longer timeframe and the true impact is clear. Those 80 calories per day equates to 40 pounds over the course of five years or 80 pounds over the course of a decade! This is great if you're never able to stay on strict diets – you can lose those extra dozens of pounds in a couple of years. It's better than spending years wishing you had gone on a diet!

So while you're not going to shed gobs of weight overnight by drinking ice water, it will make a difference over time. What's more, many people find that they drink more water when it's ice cold, which is yet another benefit that will help promote weight loss and overall good health.

Can You Drink Too Much Water?

Yes! It's definitely possible to drink too much water. It's relatively rare because, let's face it, few people are going to sit down and drink gallons of water in a short timeframe.

The condition is called "hyponatremia" and it occurs when you drink far more water than your kidneys can expel (about half a liter per hour). This dilutes the concentration of your body's sodium levels. Sodium serves as a balancing mechanism in your body's cells. But when sodium levels are skewed, your cells can absorb too much water – think of it as cellular bloating. This causes major problems in certain areas of your body, like your brain, where swelling can cause brain damage. The most common symptoms are headache, seizure and coma, along with vomiting and diarrhea – the body's attempt to expel the excess fluid.

Generally, though, water intoxication shouldn't be a concern because it's extremely difficult (if not impossible) to drink that much water accidentally. Usually, it's the result of an extreme act, like a college fraternity stunt, where a person drinks far more water than what's comfortable.

Other Tricks for Losing Weight With Water

Water offers lots of great options for weight loss. Replacing just one or two high-calorie drinks with water is a well-known strategy for losing weight.

You can also drink a glass of water before every meal if you struggle with portion control. This will make you feel fuller, sooner, so you eat less.

And if swimming is your preferred exercise, opt for slightly colder water whenever possible. The colder the water, the more calories your body will expend to keep your body temperature stable. Though as with everything in your weight loss regime, use common sense and moderation. Turning down your pool heater by a few degrees is one thing, but swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New York in November definitely isn't such a great idea!