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I heard from various sources since I was growing up that during hot weather one should drink warm or hot drinks and during cold weather one should rather drink cold drinks, but a quick google found no satisfying expert(ish) answer.


To clarify, if its hot outside (in temperature and also humidity), then should I drink a bottle of cold water like 10-12°C or e.g. a warm tea?

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You can delete and repost it, moving is for mods only I think. – cularis Jun 16 '11 at 10:59
Since it's a widespread claim (at least in my area), I believe it fits Skeptics.SE too. – user288 Jun 16 '11 at 12:24
Actually it does fit nicely to other water related questions, a fantastic substance, isn't it? – Sebastian Godelet Jun 16 '11 at 12:25
Homeostasis requires your body to try to control your body temperature and keep it at an optimum temperature, therefore liquids will be brought to body temperature. If the resulting temperature after the diffusion of the liquid temperature and your body is outside the control bounds, it must work to correct this. If cold, warm/hot tea can reduce the work, while is you're hot, it must dissipate the extra heat. If the body is hot, cool drinks can reduce the need to sweat, but over cooling of the core must be corrected by it right away. The same principal applies to other body functions, as homeo – user7460 Jun 8 '12 at 3:42
The usual argument in favor of hot drinks goes something like: "Your body tries to control your temperature, drinking warm tea makes the body work less to keep warm, and because of over-reaction in case of this sudden change (the tea), you'll end up colder". I've seen no credible source for this, but also no disproving of it in the only (and accepted) answer. – Nanne Jul 23 '13 at 8:31

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Your body has to bring the cold water up to its own temperature, thereby burning calories. Therefore the answer to your question has certain conditions: if you value calories over being cooled down, then yes, you should drink warm water, but if you value being cooled down over calories, then you should drink cold water.

Even if you want to be cooled down, however, you should still avoid very cold drinks if you're exercising, as they can give you a stomach ache and even make you vomit. (YMMV.)

If you simply want to know if your body burns calories warming up the water, the answer is yes. [emphasis mine]

Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

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Can you please find the CDC recommendation? – Sklivvz Jun 6 '12 at 17:47
I don't see how this answers the question. – mafu Sep 14 at 21:08

While clearly, warm beverages will warm your body up first, we also need to look at this from a medical point of view. There is evidence that warm beverages do cool you down more than cool beverages.

Deutsche Welle has an easy-to-read media article that quotes some experts:

According to Professor Peter McNaughton, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, consuming hot beverages, such as tea or hot water, will raise your core body temperature. And this makes you to sweat at an increased rate.

Nerves in our mouths and in our upper digestive tract respond to the heat of the beverage, stimulating the brain to produce more sweat. And as it evaporates, the sweat effectively cools you down.

A scientific study from 2012 performed an experiment getting 9 exercising men to drink water at different temperatures, and measured their body heat:

Under conditions permitting full sweat evaporation, body heat storage is lower with warm water ingestion, likely because of disproportionate modulations in sweat output arising from warm-sensitive thermosensors in the esophagus/stomach. Local temperature changes of the rectum following fluid ingestion exacerbate the previously identified error of thermometric heat storage estimations.

The keyword is disproportional, i.e. the body is overcompensating the seemingly too high core temperature. The regulation is done in the usual way (i.e. sweating more).

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