What do survival pros and weight-loss experts have in common? They both discuss the importance of understanding water-induced thermogenesis. For years, weight loss programs have promoted drinking water as a way to lose weight. However, if you find yourself in a survival situation, the last thing you want to do is burn extra calories. You’re likely to be short on food and want to conserve all of your energy for hunting and shelter building, which is where water-induced thermogenesis comes into play.
WHAT IS WATER-INDUCED THERMOGENESIS?
Thermogenesis is the production of heat by your body cells. Water-induced thermogenesis is the production of heat by your cells caused by drinking water. When you drink water that is cooler than your body temperature, your cells have to release heat in order to warm the water to body temperature. This process burns calories, contributing to higher metabolism and potential weight loss. Studies have shown that drinking 500ml of water increases metabolism by 30%. 40% of the increase in metabolism is directly tied to the warming of the water from room temperature to body temperature.
The effect of water-induced thermogenesis is greater the colder the water is when consumed. If you drink ice-cold water, it takes more energy (more calories burned) to warm it to body temperature than if you drink room temperature or warm water.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SURVIVAL?
While the link to survival isn’t immediately clear, it is very important to understand. As all Battlboxers know, if you find yourself in an emergency survival situation, it is important to conserve your calories. Whether you are stranded in the arctic or lost in the desert, you will need to find food and construct a shelter to survive. You will also likely need to hike many miles to reach an inhabited area from which you can be rescued. All of these activities require energy and strength. Maybe you’re a legendary hunter and you can find plenty of meat in the wilderness, but chances are you will not have all the nutrients and calories you will need, as these activities will burn significant energy and put you in a caloric deficit. Therefore, you want to avoid water-induced thermogenesis as much as possible.
This does not mean you should not drink water!! It is essential that you remain hydrated in any survival situation. Finding water should always be the first priority in an emergency, as you can survive much longer without food than you can without water. Yet, when you drink water, it is best to drink it warm. While it may not be the refreshing drink you desire, it will consume much less energy for your body to warm it to body temperature if it is already warm. This will be easy in hot climates like the desert, but significantly more challenging in cold environments like the mountains. If you are in a cold area, try warming your drinking water in a container using a fire. Do not drink water that has boiled very recently as you do not want to burn yourself. Aim for room temperature or warmer. The warmer the water you drink, the more energy you can conserve for other survival activities.
Water-induced thermogenesis is great when you are trying to increase your metabolism and lose weight, but not so great when you are trying to survive in the wilderness. Conserving energy is key to successful survival and one way to do so is to drink warm water. Always remember that hydration is the MOST important and that cold water is better than no water. But if you have the ability to do so, warm your water before drinking it – your body will thank you for it!