Reading about the experiments & seeing the pictures of Ray Cronise in the book The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss was astonishing. In 6 weeks he lost a whopping 13kg (28.6lb) with a complete change of body shape.
This led me to look into the benefits of a cold shower also known as hydrotherapy when doing The 4 Hour Body Diet.
Vincent Priessnitz, a German farmer in the 1820s first touted hydrotherapy as a cure to all ailments. He turned his farm into a “health camp” where people came in the hope the cold water would cure them.
As time passed, the popularity of hydrotherapy declined and medicine took over as the main way to treat illnesses. Nowadays natural cures are making a comeback. Most people are aware that athletes use ice baths to recover from sport. It has also been shown through various modern experiments that a cold shower can help improve total well being.
One major advantage of a cold shower is a the improvement in immunity. It is believed the cold water activates the immune system to produce more white blood cells which means less cold and flu.
Another advantage is the increase in blood circulation. Good blood circulation prevents things like hypertension and overall cardiovascular health. Also good circulation improves the performance of your body making you look healthier and younger.
The big benefit we’re interested in which is the most relevant to the book – The 4 Hour Body is the weight loss benefit. Exposure to cold stimulates the production of “brown fat”. Brown fat is also known as the “fat-burning fat”. When we’re cold it uses the other fat in the body to fuel itself. It also leads to an increase in metabolism so so processes in our body become more efficient thus leading to more weight loss.
Other experiments Tim Ferriss did on top of the cold shower included placing an ice pack under a towel on the neck and upper body area. This where most of the brown fat in our body is as adults so its another way to try and stimulate it without a cold shower.
The consumption of ice water on an empty stomach on waking was another experiment mentioned in The Four Hour Body. In two studies it had been shown to increase the resting metabolic rate which as mentioned above makes the body more efficient in losing weight.
The final experiment Tim did which is for the hardcore was 20 minute ice baths which induced shivering. To increase the thermogenic effect he would also consume cayenne pepper with some protein beforehand. This experiment is not for the faint hearted though to paraphrase Tim “visible results are results”!