glass of cold water on desk in office

Cold vs Room Temp vs Warm Water: Which is Better for You?

Drinking water is one of the most important and easiest things you can do in order to promote wellness in your life.  In addition to drinking plenty of water in general, the temperature of the water you drink during certain situations can help boost wellness benefits even more.

Different temperatures of water including cold, room temperature, and warm water each have their different benefits and help to do everything from promoting weight loss to boosting your immune system functioning.  Regardless of the temperature of the water, though, the most important thing is that you make sure you get enough water each day.  

cold vs warm water

Benefits of Drinking Cold Water

Cold water helps your body in diverse ways including helping you to burn extra calories while also improving your athletic performance.  Even better than cold water, though, drinking ice water can be even more beneficial for your health.

1. May Aid in Weight Loss

The key to losing weight is to achieve a calorie deficit.  A calorie deficit means that your body burns off more calories in a day than it takes in.  You take in calories through food and burn them through:

  • Your basal metabolic rate
  • Physical activity
  • Digestion

While it may be obvious what physical activity and digestion are, basal metabolic rate is typically not as well understood.  Your basal metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories while at rest.  For example, as you sit and read this post, your body is pumping blood, your brain is hard at work reading, and your lungs are expanding; each of these automatic activities as well as others burn calories while you are merely sitting around. 

Moreover, your basal metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories while carrying out these automatic functions at rest.  When you drink ice-cold water, your core body temperature drops slightly below its normal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In order for your body to restore its core body temperature while digesting the very cold water, it must work harder to produce more body heat. Working harder to produce more heat means that your body will burn more calories at rest and, thus, your basal metabolic rate increases.

While it is not necessarily a significant enough amount of calories burned to result in a major weight loss, it can help you lose a few extra pounds in conjunction with decreasing your calorie intake and increasing your physical activity. If you’re trying to lose weight, then drinking cold water will increase your basal metabolic rate.  Because your body is forced to work harder, you burn more calories than you would if you were drinking warmer water.

Rehydrate and refresh.

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups for women.

2. Improves Your Exercise Performance

When you exercise, your core body temperature increases and continues to increase as long as you exercise.  As a result, your exercise performance gets worse.  Hydration of any kind is important during exercise in order to restore water and mineral levels.  But, as it turns out, drinking cold water while exercising will actually not only hydrate you but also decrease your core body temperature. 

Once your core temperature decreases, your athletic performance improves. In order to improve your exercise performance, drink ice-cold water before and during your workout.  This will mediate and delay the increase in your body temperature.  Then, you should see an improvement in your athletic performance.

3. Increases Alertness

The next time you wake up drowsy in the morning, gulp down a tall glass of ice-cold water.  This will jump-start alertness and get you out of that post-sleeping haze. Similar to how coffee works, ice water when drunk activates sensors in your body that cause your heart rate to go up and the adrenaline hormone to be released.  A little adrenaline jump is associated with a few positive health benefits related to alertness and wakefulness including:

  • Improved focus
  • Quicker decision making
  • Pain Relief

Help get your body going in the morning by drinking a glass of cold water.

Benefits of Drinking Room Temperature Water

Middle-of-the-road room temperature water, like cold water, has its own unique set of benefits.  Drink room temperature water to boost hydration after exercise and to keep your digestive system functioning at its best.

1. Effectively Hydrates You After a Workout

Drinking room temperature water will hydrate your body more effectively than cold or warm water.  As a result, you’ll feel less thirsty than if you were to drink cold or warm water.  Especially after a workout when your body needs to restore its hydration levels, room temperature water is particularly effective.

In one study where they measured the difference in hydration levels after a workout between people who drank cold water and room temperature water, the group who drank room temperature water was overall more hydrated.  The researchers found that, those who drank the room temperature water after the workout:

  1. Drank more water
  2. Sweat less 

The room temperature water influenced the participants to drink more water after the workout and caused them to sweat less.  Thus, they ended up being more hydrated.  So, if you want to be better hydrated after exercising, opt for room temperature water over cold water or warm water.

2. Improves Digestion

Drinking a glass of water, in general, helps to keep your digestive system moving.  However, room temperature water is perhaps the most effective water temperature to keep things flowing smoothly. Room temperature water helps improve digestion in a couple of ways including:

  1. Breaking down foods
  2. Reducing constipation
  3. Reducing bloating

First off, drinking room temperature water while eating helps to break down the foods in your intestines.  While your stomach and intestines are filled with acid and enzymes which help break down food, water is needed to activate those enzymes and keep the food moving through your system. Second, room-temperature water reduces constipation.  Because foods are broken down more smoothly, bowel movements become more frequent and your system is less backed up. 

Therefore, feces and other toxins will move out of your system faster.  As a result, you’ll have less stuck in your system and your stomach won’t feel as uncomfortable. Lastly, reduced constipation from drinking room temperature water reduces stomach bloating.  Less bloating means less stomach pain and a flatter tummy.  Overall, you’ll both feel and look better as a result of drinking room temperature water.

3. Improves the Condition of Your Skin

Drinking room temperature water helps keep your skin looking in pristine condition.  Some of the key ways it does so include:

  • Promoting a healthy gut
  • Tightening the skin
  • Reducing puffiness

First off, drinking enough water is essential to having a healthy gut and blemish-free skin.  A healthy gut has a balance of the right amounts of healthy bacteria and few toxins.  Lots of healthy bacteria plus few toxins in your gut help keep your skin in check.  As a result, you’ll have less acne and an overall brighter complexion.

Second, drinking room temperature water helps keep your skin tight and reduces signs of premature aging.  When you don’t get enough water, you lose elasticity in your skin and it starts to sag.  Room temperature water helps keep your skin plump and wrinkle-free.

Third, room temperature water reduces puffiness.  Skin puffiness occurs when you don’t drink enough water; in order to prevent you from dehydrating, your body locks onto water which results in puffiness.  When you drink enough room temperature water, your body won’t latch onto water and your skin will naturally depuff.

Benefits of Drinking Warm Water

Lastly, drinking warm water is a well-known reliever of coughs and colds in the west as well as a tradition in the Ayurveda system of medicine in the east.  Specifically in India, the Ayurvedic way of drinking water is to drink it slightly on the warmer side in order to achieve better wellness.  Whether you live in the east or the west, though, warm water provides some great health benefits.

1. Relieves Congestion

Just about everyone has experienced nasal congestion in their life before.  The common cold, the flu, and allergies are all causes of nasal congestion.  Drinking warm water and warm liquids, in general, is one of the best ways to relieve that congestion.

When you are congested, your nasal passages are stuffed up with excess fluid and mucus.  We call it a stuffy nose because congestion makes it difficult to unstuff all of the mucus out of your passageways. The water vapor and steam that come off of warm water increase the velocity of the fluids in your nasal passages and unclogs them.  Moreover, the water stimulates the movement of mucus so you can blow all of it out of your nose.

2. Improves Central Nervous System Function

Probably the most essential function of water and warm water, in particular, is to keep your central nervous system functioning well.  Specifically, electrolytes in water help the brain send signals and generally provide support for brain cells. In one recent study, participants who drank more water while performing certain physical activities experienced improvements in brain activity and mood.  Improvements in brain activity were attributed to a better functioning central nervous system.

Stress Level on blackboard.

Warm water reduces stress because staying hydrated lowers the stress hormone cortisol.

3. Helps Decrease Stress Levels

A warm cup of water can help reduce the stress and anxiety that you may be experiencing.  In one particular study, people who normally drank low volumes of water saw big boosts in their mood once they started drinking more water.  Also in the study, people who normally drank high volumes of water saw their mood become worse when they decreased their water intake. There are a couple of different potential causes of this stress reduction including:

  1. Decreased cortisol
  2. Better nervous system functioning

As we’ve already discussed, drinking warm water could help your central nervous system function better.  When your central nervous system is working properly, you could see a decrease in your stress levels. The other potential cause in the reduction of stress is that warm water reduces cortisol levels in your body.  Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in your body and, when released, is responsible for supercharging stress-related responses including:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Headaches

Drinking warm water could help alleviate stress-related symptoms that you’re experiencing by reducing your cortisol levels.

4. Improves Blood Circulation

Drinking warm water helps improve blood circulation throughout your body.  Blood circulation improves when your blood vessels, including the arteries and veins, expand and carry blood more effectively throughout your body. Good blood circulation is vital to overall wellness and has so many different health benefits including:

  • Proper organ functioning
  • Lower risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Improved oxygen flow
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better energy levels

If you want to have good health, then having healthy blood circulation is crucial in order to ward off many different health problems.

The Best and Worst Scenarios to Drink Cold, Room Temp, and Warm Water

Whether cold, room temperature or warm, all water is good for you.  As you’ve seen, though, different temperatures of water are better at different times for different situations.  Knowing when it’s best to drink different temperature water could help you increase the benefits you get from drinking water. 

The Best Time to Drink Cold Water

To maximize the benefits of drinking cold water, the best times to drink it is:

  • Before and during workouts
  • On hot days
  • When you have a fever

In each of these scenarios, your core body temperature heats up above its normal 98.6-degree temperature.  As a result, you can become tired and dehydrated.  Drinking cold water will help lower your core body temperature back down to its normal level and you’ll start to feel better.

When Not to Drink Cold Water

Unless you’re exercising, it’s very hot out, or you’re sick, it’s best to avoid drinking cold water throughout the day.  Drinking cold water can cause:

  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Blood vessel contractions

Therefore, avoid drinking cold water before or during meal times in order to avoid slowing down or disrupting the digestion of your food.

The Best Time to Drink Room Temperature Water

The best time to drink room temperature water is basically anytime other than right before or during exercise.  Room temperature water helps your body maintain all of its regular functions throughout the day and is best for keeping your body hydrated.

When Not To Drink Room Temperature Water

The only time you should really avoid drinking room temperature water is right before or during exercise because it could hinder your performance by raising your body’s core temperature.  Otherwise, drinking room-temperature water is always a good idea.

The Best Time to Drink Warm Water

Warm water helps your body carry out regular automatic bodily functions.  It also helps you out when you’re feeling sick or congested.  Drink warm water during these times:

  • After waking up
  • Before bed
  • When you feel sick
  • Throughout the day

When Not To Drink Warm Water

Like room temperature water, it’s best to avoid drinking warm water before or during exercise.  Drinking warm water will only further increase your core body temperature and result in poorer performance.

Bottom Line: Is Cold, Room Temp, or Warm Water Best For You?

In conclusion, neither cool, room temperature, nor warm water is necessarily better for you than the other.  The three different temperatures of water, however, are best for you during different times and for different situations. If you want to get the most health benefits out of your drinking water, then pay attention to its temperature.  Drink the different temperatures of water during the times when it’s best for you in order to maximize its hydrating benefits.

Bonus tip: In addition to different temperatures of drinking water, there are also different types of purified water that each have their own pros and cons.  Check out our distilled versus spring water guide and get the best drinking water for your health!

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Joshua Perkins

Joshua spent ten years as a water systems technician in California before settling down with his wife and two young children in Nashville in 2018. Through all of his experience, he learned the benefits and shortfalls of so many different types of water filtration systems, from pitchers to whole-house installations. He started Water Filter Authority in 2019 to empower other families to make the right decision for their long-term health and wellness.