We’ve all heard about the benefits of hydration. Drinking enough water each day can have a tremendous impact on our energy levels, brain function, and overall physical health. As more and more people are coming to terms with the importance of hydration, many are getting curious about how they should consume their daily intake of water. How much is enough? Does it need to be filtered? Is it better to drink cold or warm water?
While it’s true that virtually any water is good for hydration, there are some benefits of drinking cold water specifically throughout the day. That’s especially true if you’re focused on fitness. Whether you’re hoping to lose weight, run a marathon, or just feel a bit more energized each day, cold water and regular exercise are the solutions.
Benefits of Drinking Cold Water
There are many benefits of drinking cold water that kick in with your very first sip of the day. Very little digestion occurs when we sleep, which is why we need to drink water as soon as we wake up. Cold water can be beneficial if we wake up with a headache; we grow dehydrated in the night, and a little water can do wonders to wake us up and get us moving again. Before starting your day with coffee or tea, try to drink a nice, cold glass of water first. It’ll help you get a headstart on your hydration goals and ensure you’re not chugging caffeine on a totally empty stomach.
The benefits don’t stop with your first glass of cold water. In fact, drinking cold water throughout the day can have a tremendous impact on your vagus nerve. This nerve controls all of the involuntary functions of your body. Drinking an icy cold glass of water can actually decrease your heart rate and make you feel more relaxed. That’s why so many experts recommend taking a cool drink of water when you’re experiencing a panic attack. It’s a great way to hack your physiology when you’re experiencing unpleasant emotions.
Increased alertness is another often overlooked benefit of drinking cold water. When you’re feeling low on energy, a cold drink can have a caffeine-like effect by naturally producing adrenaline in your body. This can be extremely helpful for those looking to cut back on their reliance on caffeine to get through the day.
The Impact of Cold Water on Fitness
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is always important, but that’s never more true than when you’re exercising. A well-hydrated body will respond better to the exercises you put it through. While you might expect all water to hydrate you in the same way, that’s not exactly true. Drinking cold water can keep your core body temperature lower, allowing you to exercise for longer.
Think about your last workout. Perhaps you were going for a run or lifting weights in the gym. The hotter your body temperature, the faster fatigue begins to set in. No matter your preferred form of exercise, drinking cold water when hot can help you exercise for longer without feeling exhausted.
Cold water stops your body’s temperature from rising too quickly. It’s refreshing, and cools you off fast. Drinking cold water during a workout means a lower heart rate, lower body temperature, and better performance overall. Of course, you should begin drinking water well before your workout begins. You’ll want to be as hydrated as possible before, during, and after you exercise. Experts recommend drinking at least 16 ounces in the hours leading up to your workout and another eight ounces in the 10 or 20 minutes before you exercise. During your actual workout, be sure to stop for a sip or water every 15 or 20 minutes to ensure maximum hydration.
Fail to drink enough water and you might begin to see diminishing returns in the gym. Even the slightest bit of dehydration can result in altered body temperature control, a decrease in motivation, and an increase in fatigue. Exercise just feels more difficult when you’re not drinking cold water when hot.
A Note About Calories
Much has been made of the connection between cold water and weight loss. You’re likely wondering: does drinking cold water burn calories? The answer is yes – technically. Drinking a glass of cold water is estimated to burn about eight calories. Your body works to turn cold water to your body temperature, which indeed does burn off some calories. It’s not a significant amount, though – you’re unlikely to find anyone who has lost a lot of weight solely through drinking cold water.
Does cold water help you lose weight? In conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, cold water can play a role in weight loss efforts. Rather than focus on the calories shed from drinking a single glass, though, it’s better to center your cold water intake on its impact in the gym. Getting hydrated means you’ll be able to perform better and longer while working out, which will have a more significant impact on your weight loss goals.
Cold vs. Hot Water: Which is Better?
Is it better to drink cold or warm water? The question has been mulled over for centuries. While nothing quenches your thirst quite like a cold glass of H2O, there are benefits to drinking warm water, too. Warm water can relieve congestion, prevent bloating, and even aid in constipation issues. Drinking warm water vs cold water often comes down to your goals and your own personal preferences.
There is an elephant in the room we’d like to address, though. Many people find themselves asking: is drinking cold water bad for you? The answer is unequivocally no. Warm and cold water can impact the body in a variety of ways, but neither will cause any harm. Ultimately, your decision to drink warm or cold water comes down to personal preference.
Cold Water and Digestion
While cold water will certainly help you get hydrated and perform better in the gym, it’s actually not ideal for digestive purposes. If there’s ever a time to opt for warm water for drinking, it’s when you’re feeling constipated. That’s because warm water breaks down food faster than cold water. That’s not to say all your water with meals needs to be warm, necessarily. Most people can drink cold water and digest their food just fine. If you know you have challenges with digestion, though, it’s a good idea to swap that glass of ice water out for something room temperature or warmer.