A woman in activewear drinks water from a blue bottle during a workout.

Cold water vs warm water: what are the benefits?

Posted by for Nutrition

Is cold or warm water better to drink? Nutritionists discuss which temperature is more beneficial for your health.

As someone with sensitive teeth, I sit firmly on the fence in the discussion about which temperature of water is better, but I’m no expert.

The debate surrounding warm versus cold water has been widely discussed in relation to facial cleansing and hair washing, and is now extending to internal nourishment.

There are so many ways to stay hydrated. You can combine nutrition and hydration in a filling shake, up your water and five-a-day intake in one go with a smoothie, or replenish your electrolytes with a tasty bone broth. Whichever delicious ways you choose to consume water, however, you have to ensure that you’re hydrating adequately. The NHS advises drinking six to eight glasses of water a day.

If you’re not in the habit of drinking water regularly throughout the day, that might sound like a lot. But staying on top of your water intake has huge benefits on your overall health. Ro Huntriss, clinical-lead dietitian and nutritionist for EXALT, says, “Water is an essential component of our diet as it supports many of our core functions including temperature regulation, kidney function – so we can eliminate waste, digestion and brain function to name a few. Simply speaking, we need water to survive.”

Given that there are many ways to consume water that all boast different advantages, could temperature be another way of further boosting the advantageous effects of drinking water? We asked the experts which is better to drink: cold water or warm water.

IS COLD OR WARM WATER BETTER TO DRINK WHEN WORKING OUT?

Raising your heart rate while working out causes the body to lose water and electrolytes through sweating. Replenishing your hydration stores is essential to any post-workout recovery.

According to Huntriss, the temperature of water you drink while working out is especially important. She says, “When we exercise, our body temperature increases. Drinking cold water can help to reduce core body temperature and prevent you from over-heating. Therefore, a colder water temperature may be more useful when exercising and may help to improve your performance.”

She even recommends a temperature to aim for if you’re especially interested in reaping the fitness benefits of drinking cold water: “Cold tap water can help us to feel refreshed and can help to cool body temperature. Research suggests that drinking water at 16°C could be optimal for rehydration after exercise.”

Sana Khan, nutritionist and founder of Avicenna wellbeing agrees: “Studies have indicated cold water may be more beneficial because as the core temperature is raised during exercise, the cold water can help lower this and therefore aid with performance. ”

IS COLD OR WARM WATER BETTER FOR DIGESTION?

There are various reasons to stay on top of your gut movement and general digestive health. What goes on in your gut can affect your emotional wellbeing and immune health.

So, does being mindful of what you drink go a long way towards helping you maintain better gut health?

Kim Plaza, nutritional advisor at Bio-Kult, says, “Cold water can have an adverse effect on digestion. One study noted that when patients drank cold water, gastric contractions decreased and energy intake was reduced compared to drinking warmer fluids.”

She explains, “Reduced gastric contractions means that the digestive process may slow down compared to when you drink warmer liquids. Reduced gastric contractions have been identified as a possible issue in cases of indigestion, constipation, and bloating.”

Although there isn’t enough research to provide conclusive evidence, Huntriss says, “It’s suggested that drinking warm drinks could aid digestion or sleep.”

However, the dietician advises against going too far in search of these benefits because, “if you drink anything that is too hot this could create trauma in your mouth and also further down in your digestive system.”

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