University of Western Australia (Perth) researchers had trained men run for 40 minutes on a treadmill and then immediately sit for 20 minutes in bath water that was a chilly 59 degrees. The scientists reported in a 2011 issue of the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that after the cold bath, the subjects ate about 200 calories more at a buffet-style breakfast than when they skipped the bath.

This greater food intake may be due to a decrease in leptin and an increase in ghrelin — two hormones that regulate appetite and satiation.

So if you’re trying to get lean, soaking in a cold bath after workouts may not be your best bet. However, for those of you who have trouble eating enough to pack on mass, consider taking a cold bath after workAccoouts. If you can’t stand the cold, opt for a warmer bath. The researchers found that even when the subjects sat in a 90-degree bath for 20 minutes after workouts they ate about 250 calories more at the buffet.

— Tabatha Elliott, PhD

REFERENCE: R.E. Halse et al., “Postexercise water immersion increases short-term food intake in trained men,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(4):632-638, 2011.