Health experts agree that it's important to keep yourself thoroughly hydrated when exercising by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workouts. Opinions vary, however, on the temperature the water should be, particularly related to some longtime theories on ice-cold water. One theory says that drinking ice water after exercise aids in weight loss, while another holds that you shouldn't drink ice water immediately after exercising, as the icy coldness is a shock to your internal organs.
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Hydration and Exercise
The importance of staying hydrated during exercise cannot be understated. Research published in a 2007 edition of the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" advises that dehydration can have a negative impact on both physical and mental tasks. Not only can dehydration lead to a decreased level of performance and an increased sensation of effort, it also can compromise the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, a diffusion barrier that impedes the influx of most compounds found in your blood from entering your brain.
Drinking ice water can burn calories as the body works to raise the temperature of the liquid ingested to the same temperature as the body. According to Roger Clemens of the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, the actual number of calories burned is almost negligible. As quoted on the website Chow, Clemens notes that, to burn enough calories to lose a single pound, you would have to drink 435 8-ounce glasses of ice water.
According to the Texas Heart Institute, drinking a frosty glass of ice water may seem appealing, but it's not necessarily the best thing for your body during or immediately after exercise. This isn't because the cold water will "shock" the body. It has to do with the optimum temperature at which your body absorbs water. The institute recommends that, instead of ice water, you drink cool water since your body absorbs cool water faster than cold water. This hydrates your body faster. Quicker hydration is especially important during exercise, which can cause you to lose fluids rapidly, especially if exercising in heat.
No Adverse Effects
William Evans, director of the Nutrition, Metabolism and Exercise Laboratory at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, offers a different opinion. According to Evans, there are no adverse effects from drinking ice-cold water after exercising. He points out that cold fluids empty from the stomach faster than warm fluids, which means cold liquids work faster to replace fluids lost from perspiration. Drinking ice water after exercise, says Evans, can have an immediate effect on cooling the body’s core.