The ice hack to lose weight is increasingly trendy on TikTok, accounting for millions of views. However, is the ice hack for weight loss proven? Does it work? Is it safe to do the ice hack? Are there any potential consequences of following the #icehack trend on TikTok?
The ice hack to lose weight trend is controversial and requires a good understanding of whether science supports it. Additionally, safety concerns are always a priority when using new methods to lose weight. Let’s delve into the facts about the ice hack to lose weight.
What Is the Ice Hack?
The core of every ice hack to lose weight is to lower the body’s core temperature. Here are some methods people use ice hacks for weight loss:
Let’s discover how each weight loss ice hack is claimed to work and whether any science supports them before you try to lose weight with them. After this, you’ll see methods to lose weight safely, even using ice to support your journey.
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The Ice Hack to Lose Weight: Does It Work?
The ice hack to lose weight claims to provide potential benefits, but you should know the possible risks in using these fast fixes. A diet that suggests you don’t need dietary or lifestyle changes is realistically too good to be true. Let’s see what the science says.
What Science Says About Ice Hacks – The Biology
Every ice hack to lose weight finds its premise in a 2020 study (9). The study suggests that the average core body temperature has declined by 0.03°C every decade since the 1800s. How does this promote ice hacks? Let’s share some biology.
What Is the Cold-Induced Thermogenesis Theory for Weight Loss
Recent research states that cold-induced thermogenesis is the process of using cold temperatures to alter the functions of energy consumption in brown adipose tissue (6). Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a specific fat cell type that burns energy (calories) to generate heat.
The Japanese researchers suggest that diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT) may also promote an increased metabolic rate and brown fat cell energy consumption. However, this recent research shows a list of ingredients that may promote DIT (6):
- Capsaicin found in chilis
- Specific tea catechins and caffeine
The relationship between your sympathetic nervous system’s chem-esthetic receptors explains how certain ingredients may promote DIT. However, the small effect of DIT can easily be outweighed when a high-fat or high-calorie diet accompanies the above ingredients. You’ll discover more about this in the Safer Ways to Lose Weight section.
What Is the Ice Method for Weight Loss? – Cold Exposure
The Japanese research confirms that cold exposure to the body may induce the desired fat-burning effects (6). The cold activates the SNS to encourage the BAT cells to consume more energy and calories. It also promotes more fat-burning in white adipose tissue (WAT).
Chris Hemsworth’s swim in the icy waters was one example of cold exposure therapy. Another example is wrapping ice patches around specific body parts or applying ice packs to your belly or thighs. Ice bath submersion is another famous ritual to practice this method.
Various methods exist to use cold exposure therapy. Although cold exposure can activate brown fat, we don’t know how this might relate to weight loss, and cold exposure can have its downsides. Chronic cold exposure can raise blood pressure and may promote atherosclerosis. Physiopedia also lists potential setbacks, dangers, and precautions of ice exposure therapies (7).
- It might cause topical hives
- It could increase pain
- It may produce more hemoglobin to cause dizziness
- It may raise your blood pressure
- It may impair cognition
- It could impair blood circulation
- It might cause hypothermia
Cryotherapy as an Ice Hack to Lose Weight
Cryotherapy is an extreme form of cold exposure therapy. Physiopedia describes cryotherapy as submerging your body or a specific part in an ice bath (7). Unfortunately, cryotherapy has many contraindications and potential side effects.
Cryotherapy may lead to hypothermia, impaired cognitive functions, and restricted blood flow. Anyone with Raynaud’s Disease, open wounds, circulation problems, or underlying health conditions should avoid using cryotherapy.
Some people also use the Wim Hof Method, combining ice baths with specific breathing strategies. Medical News Today states that you may experience hypoxic brain injury, hyperventilation, oxygen deprivation, or fainting with the Wim Hof method (20). People with anxiety, circulation problems, and previous brain injuries should avoid it.
The Ice Hack to Lose Weight – Alpine Method
The ice hack for weight loss reviews lead you to believe the diet is safe for anyone. But you can’t believe a method is safe until you know the ingredients. The ice hack, also known as the Alpine method, is a supplement that promises to lower your core temperature.
The ice hack ingredients found in the Alpilean capsules promise components found in the Himalayan mountains, said to help your temperature change to burn fat naturally. Let’s focus on the ingredients to determine whether this ice hack is safe or suitable for everyone.
Original Alpilean Capsules Ice Hack Ingredients
Original Alpilean capsules contain golden algae, dika nut, drumstick tree leaf, bigarade orange, ginger rhizome, and turmeric rhizome (2). No evidence exists to show these ingredients promote weight loss together. However, let’s look at the individual sciences.
Golden Algae (Fucoxanthin)
Malaysian scientists found that fucoxanthin may help with weight loss by affecting lipid metabolism (15). However, the study’s conclusion confirms further studies are necessary. Any algae form has potential interactions and precautions (19).
Some side effects of overuse may include dermatitis, hypothyroidism, and digestive discomfort. You can’t use it with warfarin or other blood thinners, as it contains high amounts of vitamin K.
Dika Nut (African Mango Seed)
African mango seed or Irvingia Gabonensis (IG) has shown weight loss benefits when combined with other ingredients, such as Cissus quadrangularis (1). Dika Nut is also claimed to lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides. The seed is high in soluble fiber, which is likely where any benefit comes from.
Unfortunately, registered dietician Marisa Moore says the claims are controversial because most studies on these supplements were paid for by dietary supplement manufacturers (1). It’s always a red flag when minimal evidence exists, and the manufacturers provide most or all of the studies.
Also, WebMD suggests dika nut may cause headaches, sleeplessness, and flatulence (14). Studies have suggested it is possibly safe to take the crude seed extract orally for up to 4 weeks or 10 weeks if using the IGOB131 extract. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a doctor before use. The ingredient may also interact negatively with diabetes medications and may affect testosterone levels, especially if you are taking testosterone.
Drumstick Tree Leaf (Moringa Leaf)
A Mexican review found that moringa leaf components have many potential benefits, including the reduced risk of heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, and bad cholesterol (4). The chlorogenic acid also has anti-obesity properties in animal studies.
However, WebMD states that the widely studied plant may also have some negative drug interactions (16). Some parts of the plant aren’t safe for pregnant or breastfeeding moms, and it may interact negatively with any medication that changes liver functions or diabetic medicine. Also, the root and root bark contain toxic substances.
Bigarade/BitterOrange (Citrus Bioflavonoids)
An Omaha review of 20 bitter orange studies found that the ingredient alone or with other herbal components may have slight positive changes in obese individuals (3). All the studies combined only included 360 people, and further, longer-term studies are necessary to conclude any weight loss benefits.
Unfortunately, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health revealed potentially frightening side effects and interactions (5). They refer to a report that one woman experienced a faster-than-normal heart rate after taking bitter orange.
Also, some people experience angina, fainting, heart attack, and stroke after using the product with other ingredients. Admittedly, the adverse effects resulted from combined ingredients, and the conclusion is that bitter orange may or may not be the culprit.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association banned bitter orange because it’s a stimulant (5). It may be unsafe to use while pregnant, breastfeeding, or using heart or blood pressure medication.
Ginger Rhizome (Ginger Root)
New York researchers found that ginger may promote thermogenesis and reduce feelings of hunger, but it didn’t impact total resting energy expenditure (12). Ginger is a healthy natural ingredient. However, WebMD suggests doses of five or more grams daily may cause heartburn and digestive issues (13).
Also, high ginger oral doses aren’t safe during the last trimester of pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Avoid it if you live with blood disorders, have a heart condition, or post-surgery. It may interact with blood clotting or thinning medications, diabetic medicine, cyclosporine, metronidazole, losartan, or nifedipine.
Turmeric Rhizome (Turmeric Root)
Polish scientists reviewed how turmeric curcumin might promote weight loss through various mechanisms, but noted that systematic and targeted clinical studies are needed l (8). However, WebMD suggests that most people use doses of up to 1.5 grams of turmeric daily for up to 9 months (21).
Higher doses may cause digestive issues and dizziness. Also, curcumin may interact with anticoagulants, diabetic medicine, talinolol, sulfasalazine, tacrolimus, amlodipine, warfarin, and cancer medication.
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Alpilean Ice Hack Conclusion
Some ingredients in the Alpilean ice hack to lose weight have suggested benefits in small, short-term studies. However, every ingredient has interactions and potential side effects when overused. Also, much of the research calls for further studies, and no evidence suggests the ingredients work together to create thermogenesis.
Please consult a healthcare provider before attempting the Alpine ice hack or weight loss. No evidence suggests complete safety or efficacy. The Japanese scientists didn’t mention any Alpilean capsule ingredients to induce DIT, showing a lack of evidence (6).
Does Drinking Ice Water Burn Fat?
Drinking water is a healthy ritual you should practice daily to stay hydrated along with the coming ways to lose weight. Spanish research suggests that a glass of ice water activates BAT cells 40-60 minutes after drinking it, while tap water doesn’t (17).
The activation of BAT is associated with reduced body fat (6). However, exactly how specific interventions like drinking cold water and others translate to possible weight loss has not been established. Drinking iced water may not burn fat overnight, but it might help you lose weight as part of a comprehensive strategy of dietary and lifestyle changes.
Safe Ways to Lose Weight in Just 3 Steps
The ice hack may help some people with no contraindications or high risks for side effects. However, knowing how to safely use an ice hack with realistic lifestyle and dietary changes may help you shed pounds faster than the Flash can run.
Step 1: Ice Hack Recipe for Beginners
The ice hack recipe requires a go-ahead and supervision from a healthcare provider before attempting to alter your body’s natural functions. Drinking ice water instead of room temperature water might help to activate brown fat (17). Start by doing that daily.
Once you have the go-ahead from a healthcare provider to introduce your body to cold therapy, you can do the following to avoid side effects as much as possible (7):
- Start with an ice pack wrapped in a towel against your skin to grow accustomed to the temperature change without harming your skin.
- Keep the ice pack on a specific region for 15-30 minutes before moving it to another body part. You may require multiple ice packs as they’ll melt between body parts.
- Repeat the process every second day, making sure that you take breaks in between for a slow, gradual introduction to the ice hack.
Alternatively, you can gradually grow accustomed to ice baths if you experience no side effects and it’s safe for you to practice them. Gradual introduction may help you avoid side effects (7). Stop the practice immediately if you experience adverse effects, and consult your doctor.
Submerge yourself for a few minutes, gradually increasing to 15 minutes over the days.
- Start by tapping lukewarm water into the bath on days 1-2.
- Change to using only cold tap water on days 3-4.
- Add a small amount of ice on days 5-6.
- Add double the ice to the water on days 7-8.
Step 2: Add Weight Loss Flavors to an Ice Hack
The Japanese research suggested that capsaicin and tea catechins may promote DIT (6). So, add more chili powder, cayenne pepper, or any capsaicin ingredients to your food. Also, drink iced green tea to promote double the potential benefits of catechins with ice.
Step 3: Adding to the Ice Hack for Sustainable Weight Loss
The ice hack alone doesn’t show any evidence that it magically dissipates fat. Instead, you need lifestyle and dietary changes. Add these two changes to your ice hack journey as a safe and realistic alternative to the unrealistic “overnight craze.”
Exercise Aids the Ice Hack
A review by Providence Medical Group realistically explains how exercise supports dietary and other weight loss efforts (18). Exercise alone modestly affects weight loss, but using it with other lifestyle changes will help you see better results. Aerobic exercise three times weekly is an excellent starting addition to your weight loss efforts.
Dietary Changes to Add to the Ice Hack
The National Library of Medicine suggests changing your food patterns to include more vegetables, fruit, and micronutrients may help with weight loss (22). Eat more nutrient-dense foods and reduce your calories by about 500 less than you eat daily now. Also, eat healthy fats, focus on whole grains, and enjoy lean protein sources.
To Discover Healthy Ways to Use Water:
Does Baking Soda and Ice Help You Lose Weight?
Medical News Today says to avoid using baking soda with water for weight loss (10). No evidence suggests the safety of baking soda alone or with water for weight loss. Consuming too much baking soda could even negatively affect the kidneys or cause dehydration, bleeding, inflammation, ruptured blood vessels, and a brain hemorrhage.
What Happens if I Drink Ice Water Every Day?
Some evidence suggests that ice water may activate brown adipose tissue to burn more fat and calories at rest (17, 6). Combining ice water with proven weight loss methods, like regular exercise and dietary changes may speed up your weight loss journey, but it’s not guaranteed (18, 22).
Is it Good to Drink Ice Water Before Bed?
Spanish researchers found that drinking ice water activated brown fat about 40-60 minutes after drinking the water (17). You can do this before bed , or any other time of day. Lowering your body’s temperature before sleep may also help you sleep better (11).
The Bottom Line
The ice hack to lose weight has gained too much traction from influencers who don’t share the scary realities of this risky, unrealistic method. Instead, know the facts and discuss the possibility with your physician. Get started on your journey and ensure safety today!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- African Mango: What to Know About Irvingia Gabonesis (2016, webmd.com)
- Alpilean (n.d., alpilean.com)
- A Review of the Human Clinical Studies Involving Citrus Aurantium (Bitter Orange) Extract and Its Primary Proto Alkaloid P-Synephrine (2012, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Bioactive Components in Moringa Oleifera Leaves Protect against Chronic Disease (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Bitter Orange | NCCIH (2020, nccih.nih.gov)
- Brown Adipose Tissue, Diet-Induced Thermogenesis, and Thermogenic Food Ingredients: From Mice to Men (2020, frontiersin.org)
- Cryotherapy – Physiopedia (n.d., physio-pedia.com)
- Curcumin and Weight Loss: Does It Work? (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Decreasing Human Body Temperature in the United States Since the Industrial Revolution (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Drinking Baking Soda for Weight Loss: Does It Work? (2023, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Drinking Water Before Bed, and How It Affects Sleep (2023, amerisleep.com)
- Ginger Consumption Enhances the Thermic Effect of Food and Promotes Feelings of Satiety Without Affecting Metabolic and Hormonal Parameters in Overweight Men: A Pilot Study (2012, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Ginger: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, and More (n.d., webmd.com)
- Irvingia Gabonesis: Overview, Uses, Side-Effects, Precautions, and More (n.d., webmd.com)
- Marine Algae as a Potential Source for Anti-Obesity Agents (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Moringa: Overview, Uses, Precautions, Interactions, and More (n.d., webmd.com)
- (PDF) Activation of Brown Adipose Tissue through Drinking Ice-Water as Determined by Infrared Thermography (2019, researchgate.net)
- Role of Physical Activity for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Seaweed: Uses, Benefits, and Dosage (n.d., drugs.com)
- The Wim Hof Breathing Method: How to, Benefits, and More (2023, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Turmeric: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, and More (n.d., webmd.com)
- Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies: Weight Management: State of the Science and Opportunities for Military Programs (2003, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)