‘Ice Diet’ May Turn Cold To Your Advantage

(CBS) — We’ve all heard of the low-carb diet, and the high-protein diet. But what if all the exercise and healthy eating wasn’t enough? 

Could adding “cold” to your life help you lose that unwanted fat? CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist looks at the “ice diet.” 

It’s been a long, cold winter. And many Chicagoans are sick of it. But what if the secret to losing weight was buried in snow and ice? 

Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Body,” says it is. He takes three ice baths a week loading 20 pounds of ice into his bathtub. He calls it thermal loading.

“See, your body wants to be 98.6 degrees,” he says. “And if your body temperature is lower, it will do everything it can to get back to 98.6 degrees.  And it burns calories as heat and most of those calories come from fat.” 

Ferriss says he advises people to start slowly, first trying ice packs on the back of the neck before moving on to cold showers. If you can handle that, maybe you’re ready for an ice bath.

Former NASA scientist Ray Cronise says he lost 30 pounds in just six weeks. 

He says the aerospace industry has studied the issue of people losing weight when exposed to cooler temperatures.  So he worked out in cooler temps, wore fewer layers, turned down the thermostat, slept without covers and would take walks without bundling up.

But does this science hold water?

Dr. Stacey Ingraham studies exercise physiology. She says Ferriss has his science backwards because cold actually slows down metabolism.

“To burn the most calories, sauna and room temperature — not cold water immersion,” Ingraham says.

She adds: “Long-term exposure in cold water can start lowering your core body temperature, and that can be very dangerous.”

But will people really go for the ice diet?  

Gillian Hobson says she’d do just about anything to lose weight, but when she tried the ice bath, she couldn’t do it.

“I got halfway down and it was too cold,” she says.

  • Sandra Denk

    I just watched the ice diet on your news. So stupid of you and irresponsible.
    Do you have any idea how many anorexia and bulimic kids are going to try this. I hope they heard the part from the lady who said it could be dangerous.
    I hate when the news teaches people how to do stupid things or how to be a better crook. Do you people even realize what you are doing sometimes?

  • JeanSC

    First, “ice diet” is a misnomer because it doesn’t involve actually eating ice. Second, it’s 100% guaranteed that if you burn calories faster than you are eating them, you’ll lose weight if you do this long enough. Since our bodies do make every effort to maintain a constant temperature, cold exposure is a valid way to burn calories faster. I don’t think ice baths are a good way to do this. But Dr. Ingraham is wrong, too, when she says “cold actually slows down metabolism.” That’s only true for cold-blooded animals like your average reptile. I suggest people read an excellent little book “Hypothermia: Killer of the Unprepared” by Theodore G. Lathrop, published in 1975 by The Mazamas. And anyone who doesn’t think that cold exposure – and too few calories, even without lots of exercise – will burn off excess fat, should ask the survivors of the 1972 plane crash in the Andes who, when they weren’t scavenging, just huddled together in the torn fuselage waiting for rescue, trying to keep warm enough to stay alive. They all lost a lot more weight than they might have wanted to.

    • Tony

      “cold exposure is a valid way to burn calories faster” Got any science to back that comment up? How about a research paper?

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  • Vicky

    Then why are people so obese in Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota? Sounds like a crock to me.

    • JeanSC

      You talkin’ to me?

      • Steve "cold stone"Austin


  • franklin808

    I used to weigh over 330 pounds. If I get all that weight back, I’m going to try the ice diet.

  • Wonder Weirdo

    Someone is going to end up dying from hypothermia.

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  • jesuispomme

    i want the icecream diet!

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