Though we all know the general benefits of drinking water (regulating your body temperature, eliminating toxins, keeping joints lubricated), we’re not as well informed about the temperature at which we should drink it. During the dog days of summer, there’s nothing more refreshing when you drink a glass of cold water. Or perhaps you prefer room temperature or warm water with lemon. Experts say that for the most part, water temperature boils down to personal preference, but it also might support your body in different ways than you realize.
Below, our experts give us the 4-1-1 we never knew we needed about the benefits — and potential cons — of drinking cold water.
Meet the Experts
Dr. Jenelle Kim is a doctor of Chinese medicine and the founder and formulator of JBK Wellness Labs.
The Benefits of Drinking Cold Water
Drinking cold water can feel relieving on a hot day, but here’s a closer look at its other perks.
- It may be better at removing toxins from your body. Though there isn’t scientific data to back up this theory, anecdotally, some experts feel that drinking cold water can prevent toxin buildup and strengthen your immune system,” says Dr. Jenelle Kim, a doctor of Chinese medicine and the founder and formulator of JBK Wellness Labs.
- It may help you burn more calories. Take this with a grain of salt, however. Supporters of the idea jumped on the bandwagon that cold water forces the body to regulate its temperature and helps burn more calories by working overtime to drive up the body’s temperature. “Drinking cold water reduces the body’s core temperature, which causes blood vessels to restrict. Therefore, the body has to use more energy to bring the core temperature back to normal,” she explains. But all that effort doesn’t suffice for a significant calorie burn. “The amount of work the body has to put out to increase its temperature only results in a burn of up to eight calories per glass,” she says. Therefore, don’t necessarily depend on cold water to see significant results in weight loss if that is a priority for you.
- It helps make you more alert. When you’re running on low battery, the shock of cold water can temporarily have similar effects as caffeine by giving you an adrenaline jolt — helping you to concentrate and stay alert.
- It’s the best way to rehydrate during a workout. “Cold water is great at regulating your body temperature if you are in a hot climate or working out,” says Dr. Kim. According to Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice team (a group of the university’s health specialists and public health providers), “people who work, are physically active, or live in hot areas may want to consider drinking cold water because colder fluids leave the stomach more quickly than warmer ones, which allows for faster rehydration.”
- It “tastes” better. Though distilled water, in theory, should be tasteless, there’s a reason people believe that cold water tastes better than room temp that’s more than psychological. The cooler temperatures suppress any impurities that alter the taste of pure water — say, if you’re drinking tap in a location that has more minerals in the water. Those impurities are less detectable when water is cold.
The Benefits of Drinking Room Temperature or Warm Water
Here are some potential health advantages when you prefer to reach for a glass of room-temperature water.
- It aids better with digestion. Cold water can slow down your digestive system and metabolism by restricting blood flow. However, room temperature water or water around the same temperature as your body can have the opposite effect by stimulating your digestion as it doesn’t disrupt your body’s natural state. “Ancient medicine believes that drinking warm water, especially upon waking, helps wake up the body’s systems, which helps to boost metabolism and promote proper digestion,” says Dr. Kim. According to a study, warm water helped promote gut motility (otherwise known as the ability for stuff to pass through your stomach efficiently).
- It might make you less thirsty. Though water at any temperature can quench your thirst, experts believe that warm/room temperature water doesn’t take as much liquid to replenish your body as cold water does. The caveat is that you might not drink as much water as you should, so be mindful of your intake.
- It’s less irritating. Whether your teeth are sensitive to the cold or you experience heartburn, the pros say cold water could contribute to irritation. Though drinking cold water isn’t harmful, it might be less soothing for your mouth and throat if you’re experiencing some health issues.
- It may be more soothing when you’re sick. Warm water thins out mucous when you have a cold or glue to help ease congestion.
- It helps reduce menstrual pain. You know how placing a heated water bottle on your stomach sometimes eases period cramps? According to research, warm water can have the same effect from the inside out as it has a more soothing effect on your muscles than cold water.
In the end, cold and room temperature water can affect your health in different ways, but there’s no right or wrong way to get your necessary daily dose of H2O. The bottom line is that you simply drink enough.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.