Physics trivia

Is it possible to lose weight by drinking cold water?

When we ingest cold water, our body consumes energy in the form of heat to warm up. But is it possible to lose weight this way?

Low cup temperature condenses moisture from the air around it
Is it possible to lose weight just by drinking cold water? When we ingest water at a temperature lower than that of our body, we give up calories until thermal equilibrium is established. In addition, the human body needs to maintain a minimum temperature for all its metabolic processes to work properly. To do so, it uses the energy provided by eating food. Each food, according to its composition, is capable of providing a specific amount of energy to the body – a number that can always (and should) be checked in the nutritional information table , present on product labels.

The daily energy requirement varies greatly from one individual to another. Some factors such as sex , age , height , weight , diseases and the practice of physical activities can change the recommended amount of calories. That’s why it’s important to always consult a nutritionist to analyze your eating habits. The World Health Organization ( WHO ) indicates that a healthy individual should consume about 2500 kcal daily.

What are calories?

When we ingest a food, the human body uses part of the energy contained in the chemical bonds present in it, producing heat and other forms of energy. This energy is measured in kcal , that is, an amount equivalent to 1000 calories.

1 calorie is the amount of heat required to raise a mass of 1 g of water from 14.5°C to 15.5°C . Therefore, our body needs approximately 2.5 million times ( 2500 x 1000 ) that energy every day.

How do we lose weight?

Quite simply, if our energy consumption is less than our caloric intake, our body stores the energy surplus in the form of fat. On the contrary, if we expend more energy than we take in calories, we lose weight.

Is it possible to lose weight by drinking cold water?

When we put a glass of ice water out of the fridge, we soon see several droplets form around it. This happens as a result of the condensation of water droplets present in the air. Because of the large temperature difference , the air gives off heat to the water, lowering the temperature as its moisture liquefies.

The fundamental equation of calorimetry defines that the amount of heat needed to change the temperature of a given body is given by:

Q = mc  ΔT

In the equation above: Q is the amount of heat, m is the mass of the body in grams, c is its specific heat and ΔT is the change in temperature suffered by it.

Let’s calculate the amount of energy consumed by the human body to bring a glass containing 200 ml of water at 4ºC to thermal equilibrium . Remember that the density of water is 1 kg/L – so a volume of 200 ml of water corresponds to 200 g . The specific heat of water, in turn, is 1 cal/g °C . Considering the temperature of the human body as 37 °C , we have:

Q = 200  1  (37 – 4)
Q = 6600 cal = 6.6 kcal

Some estimates indicate that, in order to lose 1 kg , it is necessary to reduce caloric consumption or practice physical exercises until 7500 kcal are burned – or a total of 1136 cold glasses of water.


There are healthier ways to lose weight that don’t involve drinking thousands of glasses of water. It is worth mentioning that adequate water consumption is essential for maintaining a healthy body. So, drink water and exercise regularly.

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