Using Thermodynamics to Lose Weight?

Ever wondered why all swimmers often seem so lean?

It’s not your imagination, but good old thermodynamics. It all sounds very difficult and fancy, but it all comes down to this: the body is not a closed system. Your skin has a tremendous surface and is constantly in contact with the outside world. There is one thing it always exchanges, which is heat (or cold depending on how you look at it). Why is this significant? Well, what if I told you that the single most important energy expenditure of your body is keeping you warm… Getting the hint?

Burning calories, while doing absolutely nothing

For all the calorie counters out there, I hope you are aware of the fact (though I’m aware of the fact that most of you are not) that over an average day you burn the most energy doing nothing? The energy your body uses purely to stay alive equals the energy expenditure of the Mother of All Cardio Workouts. If you have ever compared your RDA of calorie intake (around 2,000 kcal) to the calories your burn in cardio (say around 300 kcal), you will come to the depressing conclusion that you ought to be the size of a small moon by now. However, taking into account that your body is continuously fighting to keep you warm, the balance is leveled out. Of course there are many more factors (like testosterone in men), but using science in daily life requires baby steps.

How to lose weight with a glass of water and a shower of two

So if your body’s main energy expenditure is heat, why not make it work a bit harder? This is what many thermogenic weight loss pills do, on the downside those are chemical hand grenades destroying you from the inside out. Luckily lowering your body temperature at the tight times for the right interval you can create the same effect. Try these steps:

  1. Take a glass of ice water first thing in the morning (500mL) – This will kickstart your internal thermostat and stimulate detox as a bonus
  2. Take cold showers – This is more powerful that I can explain in a mere blog post, but taking 10 minute cold showers upon waking and going to bed is amazingly effective
  3. Put an icepack in your neck – Do this in the evening for optimal results (by the way, you can make ice packs yourself by adding 1 part of pure alcohol to one part of water and putting two ziploc bags around it)
  4. Drink a big glass of cold water every meal – Water is a wondertonic, and cold water a thermodynamical afterburner

I outlined these techniques in a previous post and combines them with diet and habit advice for those who are serious about managing their weight.


I am a life sciences student in the Netherlands with a passion for health and fitness. I am an avid follower of the Paleo diet and are a self proclaimed body hacker (and thus guinea pig). I'm currently working on a vitamin store, which started out as a pet projects to cater to my own supplement needs. I blog at Skill Collector and work at Hoasted Webhosting.

4 thoughts on “Using Thermodynamics to Lose Weight?

  • June 20, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I beleive thermodynamics assist in weight loss.
    Alot of the photos that are taken of swimmers are directly after they have swum.
    The effects of cold water to tighten skin is quite dramatic also and will make the swimmers appear to be more ripped than usual.
    Not attempting to take anything away from Professional swimmers, they are incredible athletes.

    • June 21, 2011 at 3:06 am

      This effect is not simply because of the skin tightening effect of cold water. Although this is often the case, even when warmed up swimmers have a better body with less effort. Personally these tricks have worked awesome for me :)

  • June 6, 2011 at 4:21 am

    I think you kind of misread the article my friend… The point is not that they burn calories by using a lot of muscle (though that helps too), bt the fact that they lose heat. This is the major energy expenditure of the body :)

  • June 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Yes swimming is the exercise which use most muscles in our body. No other exercise use as many muscle as swimming and no wonder swimming require most calories and they are slim for that.


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