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Drinking cold fluids for weight control

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  • Forbes-Ewan, Chris
    On a non-professional, general science email discussion group the claim was made recently that drinking cold water will help with weight control because of the
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 2, 2002
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      On a non-professional, general science email discussion group the claim was
      made recently that drinking cold water will help with weight control because
      of the need to release energy (as heat) in response to the resulting
      decrease in body temperature.

      I doubt that this is correct, but would like the following reasoning to be
      constructively (or even destructively, if appropriate) criticised.

      When the body loses small amounts of heat, this deficit is, I believe,
      countered simply by switching on heat-conservation mechanisms such as
      peripheral vaso-constriction.

      My understanding is that thermogenesis can be either by shivering or
      'non-shivering' mechanisms. Shivering is an extreme response to exposure to
      very low temperatures and isn't relevant to this discussion. Non-shivering
      thermogenesis is used by rats (among other animals) and evidently occurs
      largely in brown adipose tissue. People do not have brown adipose tissue (or
      don't have much), so non-shivering thermogenesis doesn't play a big role in
      humans.

      If this correct, then drinking cold water will not make much (if any)
      difference to daily energy balance. This is because it does not induce
      thermogenesis, only 'thermoconservation' (to coin a new word).

      Am I on the right track?

      Chris Forbes-Ewan

      Task Coordinator, Nutrition
      Defence Nutrition
      DSTO-Scottsdale
      76 George St
      SCOTTSDALE Tas 7260
      AUSTRALIA

      Phone: Int + 61 3 6352 6607 (03 6352 6607 in Australia)
      Fax: Int + 61 3 6352 3044 (03 6352 3044 in Australia)

      E-mail: chris.forbes-ewan@...

      The opinions expressed in this message are those of the author and should
      not be taken to represent the official position of the Defence Science and
      Technology Organisation or of the Australian Department of Defence

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    • Eric Drinkwater
      I d like to elaborate on human versus rat use of brown adipose tissue for thermogenesis and the stress effect of cold stress. When rats get so cold that they
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 2, 2002
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        I'd like to elaborate on human versus rat use of brown adipose tissue for
        thermogenesis and the stress effect of cold stress.

        When rats get so cold that they stop shivering they shift to using brown
        adipose tissue (BAT) to generate heat. Humans also have BAT and also stop
        shivering when we get very cold so many assume that we switch to BAT burning
        too. To support this, some will cite that Lean and James (1) report that the
        24% increase in thermogenesis to cold exposure observed by Astrup (2) was at
        least partially due to BAT. This was not the conclusion of Astrup at all,
        who concluded that there was no evidence of using BAT for thermoregulation.
        Of course Lean and James is unfortunately cited more.

        The catecholamine response to even mild cold exposure (16 degrees Celsius
        air temperature) does increase 24-hour energy expenditure though this was
        reported to be from increased carbohydrate metabolism (3) and not BAT.

        It may be possible that that the catecholamine response from the stress of
        drinking enough cold water may increase energy expenditure not so much for
        thermoregulation but simply due to sudden cold stress. The effects may be
        minimal from a few glasses of cold water but nevertheless present.

        1) Lean, MEJ. James, WP. Brown adipose tissue in man. In: Brown Adipose
        Tissue, P. Trayhurn and DG Nicholls (Eds). London: Edward Arnold, 1986, pp.
        339-367.

        2) Astrup, A. Thermogenesis in human brown adipose tissue and skeletal
        muscle induced by sympathomimetic stimulation. Acta Endocrinol. 112 (Suppl
        278): 1-32, 1986.)

        3) Buemann B, Astrup A, Christensen NJ, Madsen J. Effect of moderate cold
        exposure on 24-h energy expenditure: similar response in postobese and
        nonobese women. Am J Physiol 1992 Dec;263(6 Pt 1):E1040-5

        __________________________________
        Eric Drinkwater
        Ph.D. Scholar, Victoria University (Melbourne)
        Department of Physiology
        Australian Institute of Sport
        PO Box 176
        Belconnen ACT
        Australia
        2616
        Phone +61 2 6214 7887
        Fax +61 2 6214 1603
        eric.drinkwater@...

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Forbes-Ewan, Chris [mailto:Chris.Forbes-Ewan@...]
        Sent: Monday, 2 September 2002 5:53 PM
        To: 'SPORTSCIENCE@... '
        Subject: Drinking cold fluids for weight control


        On a non-professional, general science email discussion group the claim was
        made recently that drinking cold water will help with weight control because
        of the need to release energy (as heat) in response to the resulting
        decrease in body temperature.

        I doubt that this is correct, but would like the following reasoning to be
        constructively (or even destructively, if appropriate) criticised.

        When the body loses small amounts of heat, this deficit is, I believe,
        countered simply by switching on heat-conservation mechanisms such as
        peripheral vaso-constriction.

        My understanding is that thermogenesis can be either by shivering or
        'non-shivering' mechanisms. Shivering is an extreme response to exposure to
        very low temperatures and isn't relevant to this discussion. Non-shivering
        thermogenesis is used by rats (among other animals) and evidently occurs
        largely in brown adipose tissue. People do not have brown adipose tissue (or
        don't have much), so non-shivering thermogenesis doesn't play a big role in
        humans.

        If this correct, then drinking cold water will not make much (if any)
        difference to daily energy balance. This is because it does not induce
        thermogenesis, only 'thermoconservation' (to coin a new word).

        Am I on the right track?

        Chris Forbes-Ewan

        Task Coordinator, Nutrition
        Defence Nutrition
        DSTO-Scottsdale
        76 George St
        SCOTTSDALE Tas 7260
        AUSTRALIA

        Phone: Int + 61 3 6352 6607 (03 6352 6607 in Australia)
        Fax: Int + 61 3 6352 3044 (03 6352 3044 in Australia)

        E-mail: chris.forbes-ewan@...

        The opinions expressed in this message are those of the author and should
        not be taken to represent the official position of the Defence Science and
        Technology Organisation or of the Australian Department of Defence

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      • Forbes-Ewan, Chris
        Last month there was some discussion on- and off-list about the effect of drinking cold water on energy expenditure. Below my signature block are all the
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 7, 2002
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          Last month there was some discussion on- and off-list about the effect of drinking cold water on energy expenditure.

          Below my signature block are all the relevant messages that I received about this, including (for completeness) those that were on-list. They are in the order I received them. I haven't included the names of the senders, in case they would rather remain anonymous.

          In summary, no-one supported the idea that drinking cold water would make a substantial contribution to weight loss via increased thermogenesis. One respondent (fifth reply below) suggested the possibility of a small effect on energy expenditure through a catecholamine response to sudden cold stress.

          Chris Forbes-Ewan

          Task Coordinator, Nutrition
          Defence Nutrition
          DSTO-Scottsdale
          76 George St
          SCOTTSDALE Tas 7260
          AUSTRALIA

          Phone: Int + 61 3 6352 6607 (03 6352 6607 in Australia)
          Fax: Int + 61 3 6352 3044 (03 6352 3044 in Australia)

          E-mail: chris.forbes-ewan@...

          The opinions expressed in this message are those of the author and should not be taken to represent the official position of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation or of the Australian Department of Defence

          ORIGINAL MESSAGE TO SPORTSCI
          On a non-professional, general science email discussion group the claim was
          made recently that drinking cold water will help with weight control because
          of the need to release energy (as heat) in response to the resulting
          decrease in body temperature.

          I doubt that this is correct, but would like the following reasoning to be
          constructively (or even destructively, if appropriate) criticised.

          When the body loses small amounts of heat, this deficit is, I believe,
          countered simply by switching on heat-conservation mechanisms such as
          peripheral vaso-constriction.

          My understanding is that thermogenesis can be either by shivering or
          'non-shivering' mechanisms. Shivering is an extreme response to exposure to
          very low temperatures and isn't relevant to this discussion. Non-shivering
          thermogenesis is used by rats (among other animals) and evidently occurs
          largely in brown adipose tissue. People do not have brown adipose tissue (or
          don't have much), so non-shivering thermogenesis doesn't play a big role in
          humans.

          If this correct, then drinking cold water will not make much (if any)
          difference to daily energy balance. This is because it does not induce
          thermogenesis, only 'thermoconservation' (to coin a new word).

          Am I on the right track?

          Chris Forbes-Ewan


          FIRST REPLY
          I would have to concur with you on the cold water conundrum. I'm inclined
          to think that it wouldn't take long for the body to heat the water and
          thus would not confer much additional energy expenditure. I'd suggest you
          post a reply message on the other list saying they'd be much better off
          taking a brisk swim IN the cold drinking water rather than drinking it!


          SECOND REPLY
          My initial thoughts are that this is probably a fairly simple issue, and, as
          you say, unlikely to involve any 'active' thermogenic mechanisms.
          Behavioural thermoreg is sufficiently strong in humans that most of our
          lives are spent under sufficiently low thermal stress that our heat
          content or temperature are adequately regulated simply by increasing
          or decreasing constrictor tone of cutaneous vessels (= energetically
          economical). We have an obligatory ~100 W of heat to eliminate
          anyway, at rest, so drinking a modest volume of cold water would
          presumably just be detected as a minor change in body thermal state
          and result in an appropriate increase in which VC tone. ie., No effect
          on energy expenditure. Huge amounts of very cold water, if tolerated,
          would make unconstrained people more inclined to seek warmth before
          any energetically meaningful shivering thermogenesis developed.
          Besides, even when shivering is the maximally induced, the average of
          the increased energy expenditure is only about half of that associated
          with sustained aerobic exercise. Moral of the story should be pretty
          obvious.


          THIRD REPLY
          I suspect ... that you are correct in your assumptions on this one. I
          haven't read anything specific on this, but just working through the anatomy
          & physiology of this, I can't imagine how cold water would elicit a large
          upward regulation in thermogenics.

          Lets say you are putting 4 degree water into the stomach - essentially a
          thin-walled vessel that is heated at 37.5 degrees (give or take) from the
          outside. The water temperature is slowly going to increase over time & as
          it is absorbed. There may or may not be some localised vasoconstriction
          around the surrounding tissues to reduce blood flow & subsequent blood
          cooling as it passes the tissues filled with water. There may also be a
          slight increase in peripheral vasal tone to reduce radiation & we have
          probably all had 'goosebumps' after ingesting cold liquids or foods.
          These reactions no doubt represent the body's ability to buffer temperature
          fluctuations within a few degrees via non-shivering reflexes without
          resorting to other forms of thermogenesis that require significantly greater
          energy input.


          FOURTH REPLY
          I think the issue also encompasses the concept of thermogenic
          response to eating (drinking) otherwise in terms of thermodynamics it
          would be easier to have a cold shower, or sit in a cold water pool
          etc.

          So the idea is that in the process of eating we increase our
          metabolic rate - if the nett increase in the metabolic rate is
          greater than the derived energy from the food then the process is
          "losing weight". I would think that cold water may actually optimise
          the gastric emptying rate and therefore minimise the thermogenic
          response (especially if the receptors are in the stomach). Rather
          than water, eating celery which has very few calories could be used
          since it would have a slow gastric emptying and would necessitate
          some digestion - > "lose weight".

          One theory of obesity is that some people have a "defective"
          thermo-genic response - hence they on average get more calories out
          of the same food when compared to individuals with a thermogenic
          response to eating.

          I have also heard that eating hot curries exaggerates the response
          and as a result provides the corollary (or is a paradox) to the pure
          thermodynamics theory.


          FIFTH REPLY
          I'd like to elaborate on human versus rat use of brown adipose tissue for
          thermogenesis and the stress effect of cold stress.

          When rats get so cold that they stop shivering they shift to using brown
          adipose tissue (BAT) to generate heat. Humans also have BAT and also stop
          shivering when we get very cold so many assume that we switch to BAT burning
          too. To support this, some will cite that Lean and James (1) report that the
          24% increase in thermogenesis to cold exposure observed by Astrup (2) was at
          least partially due to BAT. This was not the conclusion of Astrup at all,
          who concluded that there was no evidence of using BAT for thermoregulation.
          Of course Lean and James is unfortunately cited more.

          The catecholamine response to even mild cold exposure (16 degrees Celsius
          air temperature) does increase 24-hour energy expenditure though this was
          reported to be from increased carbohydrate metabolism (3) and not BAT.

          It may be possible that the catecholamine response from the stress of
          drinking enough cold water may increase energy expenditure not so much for
          thermoregulation but simply due to sudden cold stress. The effects may be
          minimal from a few glasses of cold water but nevertheless present.

          1) Lean, MEJ. James, WP. Brown adipose tissue in man. In: Brown Adipose
          Tissue, P. Trayhurn and DG Nicholls (Eds). London: Edward Arnold, 1986, pp.
          339-367.

          2) Astrup, A. Thermogenesis in human brown adipose tissue and skeletal
          muscle induced by sympathomimetic stimulation. Acta Endocrinol. 112 (Suppl
          278): 1-32, 1986.)

          3) Buemann B, Astrup A, Christensen NJ, Madsen J. Effect of moderate cold
          exposure on 24-h energy expenditure: similar response in postobese and
          nonobese women. Am J Physiol 1992 Dec;263(6 Pt 1):E1040-5




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