Q. Does the temperature of drinking water matter? I have heard that lukewarm water is absorbed more quickly and that cold water helps burn calories. Is that true?
A. Volume appears to matter more than temperature. A review of hydration during exercise from the American College of Sports Medicine says that the rate at which fluid leaves the stomach to be absorbed from the intestine into the blood depends on a complex interaction of factors. The biggest factor is sufficient fluid volume in the stomach, the study says, and a big factor in ingesting enough fluid is palatability. Therefore, the study recommends that fluids “be cooler than ambient temperature” — 59 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit — “and flavored to enhance palatability and promote fluid replacement.”
A 2006 study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism casts doubt on the idea that cooler water helps burn calories. In the study, done in Switzerland, resting energy expenditure after drinking cooled, distilled water was measured in healthy young volunteers and compared with the results after drinking room-temperature liquids.
The study found a very small difference, “well below the theoretical energy cost of warming the water to body temperature,” and the results “cast doubt on water as a thermogenic agent for the management of obesity.”
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