Wake up, roll over, turn off the alarm, shuffle to the shower, dry off, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to work, get your butt to the gym, come home, eat dinner, go to sleep, repeat.
Your morning shower, like much of your routine, is most likely a repeating act that you do pretty much on autopilot.
But what if you could not only lather, scrub, rinse… but also lose fat?
It’s not an exaggeration or a pipe dream — there is extensive scientific evidence backing up multiple ways you can take your fat burning from the gym to the shower or bath.
And why not? If you have a few pounds to lose, the more you can work weight loss into your everyday routine, the faster you’ll be looking and feeling fantastic.
Maybe you’ve been trying the usual techniques like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking at the far end of the parking lot. Take things up a notch by optimizing your shower or bath for fat loss too. Put these six things in your bathtub or shower to burn more fat:
1. Cold water
Have you heard about the cold shower trend? Some people even experiment with ice baths. There are a number of purported benefits, including increased alertness and mental performance, faster muscle recovery, improved mood and a turned-on fat-burning mechanism.
The weight loss claims definitely have a scientific backing, with research showing that exposure to cold increases the activity of brown fat tissue. This type of fat revs up the metabolism to keep the body warm — as opposed to white fat, which is the type that stubbornly accumulates on the body.
Try jumping into a cold bath, or turn the shower onto cold, for two to four minutes. Avoid using warm water afterward, rather, allow your body to warm itself up, as this is where the beneficial effect comes from. Studies used water temperatures between 38 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Hot water
Interestingly, other research shows that exposure to hot water can activate a different fat-burning mechanism in the body whereby molecules called heat shock proteins are increased, and blood sugar levels are reduced. Overall this helps optimize the metabolism and prime the body for burning fat.
The evidence supporting the positive effects of both cold and hot water bathing suggests that there was some wisdom in the ancient ritual of alternating temperatures, like in Roman baths and Turkish hammams. You can create this effect at home using a hot bath followed by an invigorating cold shower, and repeating for two cycles.
3. Essential oils
Ancient cultures like the Greeks, Romans and Mayans used essential oils for medicinal bathing, and for good reason. Modern science has allowed us to understand how these potent plant extracts work with the body.
A 2012 study demonstrated how lavender oil can decrease anxiety and improve mood. This affects nervous system function and hormones in turn. When you are relaxed, cortisol levels go down and your body is free to burn fat.
Adding a few drops of essential oil to your bath or shower can help trigger processes in the body that will ignite your inbuilt fat burning engine.
4. Epsom salt
Taking an Epsom salt bath helps you lose weight in more ways than one. Of course, there’s the relaxing, stress-relieving effect of taking some time to yourself in a hot bath. But adding a cup or two of Epsom salt can kick things up a notch.
Magnesium plays an important role in the body’s metabolism and energy production, helping activate enzymes and use nutrients. Having too little magnesium can exacerbate the destructive effects of stress, leaving you tired, anxious, moody and unable to sleep well. Scientific research has shown significant ties between low magnesium levels and many chronic inflammatory illnesses, including obesity. It’s no surprise then, that increased magnesium intake can, directly and indirectly, prevent overeating and help the body metabolize excess fat.
5. Dry brush
Try this ancient Ayurvedic practice to support detoxification and weight loss. All you need is a natural bristle brush — find one at your local pharmacy or health store. Start from your feet, one leg at a time, and brush your skin vigorously in brisk sweeping motions. Traditionally, the brushing should move upward and inward toward the heart. This practice gets the blood and lymph fluid circulating, which invigorates the body and expedites the removal of toxins, which can otherwise cause the body to hold on to extra weight.
Leave your dry brush in the bath or shower to remind you to take a moment for the ritual each time you bathe. Dry brushing will not only detoxify your body but also support the integrity of the collagen underneath the surface of the skin. This is that elastic network that keeps skin looking firm and youthful. Dry brush regularly to ward off cellulite and help the skin contract as you lose weight.
6. Natural bathing products
Did you know that all those scrubs, shampoos and serums sitting around your shower or bath could be causing your body to hold on to fat?
It’s true — conventional products contain many chemicals and compounds which can disrupt the body’s endocrine system, otherwise known as your hormones. And what do hormones do? They regulate things like blood sugar, energy levels and fat metabolism, just to name a few. So if you want to cut down a few pounds, try phasing out those drugstore brands and switch to natural ones, or better yet, make your own non-toxic self-care products.
How to make the ultimate detox and weight loss bath
For the ultimate detoxifying, fat-busting bathtime experience, try making this specially designed cocktail. You’ll feel relaxed and energized, emerging with smoother skin and a cleansed body.
Simply combine two cups of Epsom salt, one cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup sea salt or Himalayan salt, 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar, and 20 drops of lavender oil into a warm bath. Swish the ingredients around, then enjoy the bath for at least 20 minutes. Take time to relax afterward as your body detoxifies. Repeat this process once or twice a week to support you on your weight loss journey.
To complement your new bath or shower routine, why not try a fat-burning herbal tea.
— Liivi Hess