Can drinking a hot drink cool you down?

One common factoid that has been circulating the internet recently is that drinking a hot beverage on a hot day will cool you down. Some immediately dismiss the claim while others swear by it.

The skeptical wonder how putting something hot into your body, while adding to its heat, could possibly cool it down. Proponents generally rely on anecdotal evidence that they have experienced first-hand. But who is right? Is there any actual scientific evidence behind this seemingly counter-intuitive claim?

Drinking something hot on a hot day can indeed cool you down, but there is a catch. A study done at the University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics showed that if you were to drink a hot beverage in a hot and dry environment, your body will overcompensate for the added heat by sweating, and sweating a lot. It’s this excessive sweating that causes your body to cool down, and cooling it down more than if you had drunk something cold instead.

As long as you aren’t wearing layers of clothes, and your skin has room to breathe, the cooling effect of the evaporation of sweat is more than enough to cover the cost of the added heat to your body from the hot beverage. However, this cooling effect only works if the air is dry, rather than humid. You cannot sweat efficiently enough to take advantage of the benefit in a muggy or humid environment.

You may have already experienced this effect when eating hot or spicy foods. Research at the University of Cambridge studied the effects of certain foods and drinks on receptors on our tongue and in our throat. They discovered that one specific receptor, the TRPV1 receptor, was responsible for sensing heat and telling our body how to respond. In many individuals, the response is to produce excessive sweat.

This is the same reason why some people break out in a pouring sweat after eating extremely spicy chili or habanero peppers. If the air around you is dry and you’re wearing light clothes, eating foods spicy enough to cause a sweating reaction will also produce the same cooling effect as drinking a hot beverage.

So to recap, this myth isn’t a myth at all. Drinking something hot can in fact cool you down if the right conditions are met. Those conditions are: 1) It needs to be relatively hot outside; 2) The environment or air needs to be dry and not humid; 3) Your sweat must be able to evaporate off your skin normally without being restricted by clothing or other materials.

So there you have it. If you’re in humid Singapore, a hot cup of coffee isn’t going to do much to cool you off. However, if you’re in a dry Australian summer during one of their heat waves, it just might do the trick to cool you off against all logic.

Check out my related post: What you wear affects how you work?

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  1. Hi.
    Greetings and thanks for the Support.

    As an Aussie…
    Love these type of Tips.
    Great Post.
    Hot Stuff in deed. Indeed
    Sounds very likely as Studies also show:

    Eating Small amounts of Chilli in a
    sensibly Planned Diet when
    Combined with Strength
    Training Exercises will also increase
    Metabolism Rates…
    …thus Calorie Burning when Dieting.

    Very Small amounts can be added to Drinks…
    and for the sweet-tooths out there:
    Dark Choco and Chilli are symbiotic
    and much Healthier than the norm.

    Thanks again.
    Take Care. Till Next… Shiro.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hi.
        Thanks much for the support and
        though… think/know am addicted.
        One of those… lost causes.?.
        Maybe should form…
        Chilli Watchers.

        Even added it to my Club
        to replace the Bacon.

        Considering the long-term
        effects… am nearly 60…
        still a six-pack… though…
        Downside to a quicker Metab…
        sweat a LOT.
        More. Even when i, Shiro. Sleep.

        Genetics and upbringing too
        may play a part don’t You think.?.
        Am partial Italian = We even
        BBQ Thems.

        Another hint is to eat Fruits/Dessert
        First… Sugars digested quicker
        than Carbs, Proteins etc…
        E.g. Eat Foods in Order of
        Digestive Time.
        Less stomach rumbly issues
        and so forth. Forthrightly

        looking forwards to the
        Post of bettermen t… Next.

        Take Care. Till Next… Shiro.

        Liked by 1 person

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