December 6, 2023

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Ice Hack for Weight Loss: Does It Work?

Another diet trend on TikTok has gone viral. This time it’s the #icehack, which has amassed over 122 million views on the platform.

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While some ice hack videos show fancy ice cubes for cocktails or clever ways to de-ice your windshield, most are promoting the ice hack for weight loss. Influencers have bombarded TikTok with testimonials on how the ice hack can miraculously melt belly fat.

Many videos contain strikingly similar claims: “This is a diet secret that’s been in the news but the videos keep getting taken down because it’s exposing the lies of the weight loss industry.” Then, influencers show before and after pictures of their mom, aunt or grandmother who have lost 60 to 80 pounds using the ice hack, all without diet or exercise. 

Is it too good to be true? Yes, it is.

Rank Diet Overview
No. 1 WeightWatchers WeightWatchers is focused on inspiring healthy living and improving overall well-being. That includes taking a holistic approach to help members eat healthier and move more.
No. 2 Dash Diet DASH diet, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, is a flexible, balanced and heart-healthy eating plan promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to stop (or prevent) high blood pressure.
No. 3
Mayo Clinic Diet Using evidence-based behavioral science, the Mayo Clinic diet is a 12-week program that is designed to establish healthy habits for life.
No. 3
TLC Diet The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet calls for eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, bread, cereals and lean meats. The guidelines are broad enough that you’ll have a lot of latitude with what you eat.
No. 5 Flexitarian Diet With a flexitarian diet, also known as a semi-vegetarian diet, you don’t have to completely eliminate meat to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism.

What Is the Ice Hack Diet (aka Alpine Ice Diet) and How Does it Work?

While the videos may show glasses filled with cubes of ice, the hack’s focus is not ice. The online onslaught is actually trying to sell an expensive dietary supplement called Alpilean, capsules full of ingredients derived from the Himalayan Alps, which is why it’s also being called the alpine ice hack.
Like many popular diet trends or supplements, there’s frequently a nugget of scientific evidence buried deep beneath the claims, yet it’s often overblown or misinterpreted. In this case, the Alpilean sellers claim the real cause of belly fat is low inner body temperature. They’re basing this revelation on a 2020 study conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine that showed our collective inner body temperature in the U.S. has decreased an average of a 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit every decade since the 1800s.

The Alpilean creators jumped on the premise that our declining inner body temperature is to blame for the rising rates of obesity in the U.S. Yet, co-author of the Stanford study, Julie Parsonnet, a professor of medicine, epidemiology and population health at Stanford University, told me it’s not that simple.

She said it’s true that as the population has gotten heavier, our body temperature – a crude marker of metabolic rate – has dropped. But many other things have happened at the same time, she says, including more calorie-dense food, sedentary lifestyle, reduced infectious diseases, and even air conditioning and heating.

“Our immune systems – which also consume calories and would raise temperature – were likely much more active in the past than they are today. Even the bacteria that live in our bodies are different and they also produce heat,” she says.

So, we may have weighed less for many reasons that are not fully understood.

“Over time, we’ve gotten taller, fatter, cooler and healthier,” she says. “How these all relate to one another is unclear.”

Does the Ice Hack Diet Work for Losing Weight?

The diet blames low inner body temperature as the culprit in obesity, yet the entire premise is faulty. While studies have explored the relationship between body temperature and body weight throughout the years, the evidence has been conflicting.

Some researchers hypothesize that a low body temperature could predispose someone to obesity by what’s called a “thermogenic handicap,” or the difficulty of burning off calories efficiently.

Yet, the latest consensus is that obesity is not associated with a reduced core body temperature.

The Alpilean website cites a Swiss study published in the International Journal of Obesity that actually conflicts with their premise. The study found that body temperature increases with weight, not decreases, as the company asserts.

What Are the Alpilean Supplement Ingredients?

The Alpilean supplement contains six plant ingredients that the company claims will increase inner body temperature and “ignite your calorie-burning engine.” The ingredients are supposedly from the Thangu Valley in the Himalayas: dika nut (also known at African mango seed), golden algae (fucoxanthin), drumstick tree or moringa leaf, bigarade or bitter orange, ginger and turmeric root.

Yet no evidence is provided to back up the temperature-raising claims of this “proprietary complex.”

“Individually, these supplements have minimal evidence in animal studies showing improvements in body temperature regulation but not in humans,” says registered dietitian Colleen Tewksbury, assistant professor of nutrition science at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

For instance, a review of supplements for weight loss found that extracts of bitter orange – one of the ingredients in Alpilean – should not be recommended for the treatment of obesity because the quality of evidence is low.

How Much Does the Ice Hack Diet Cost?

The supplements are only sold on the company’s website, although there are multiple Alpilean websites that contain slightly different information. Various versions of Alpilean weight loss capsules are also sold on Amazon, and while some contain similar ingredients, others have a completely different formula.

Each bottle of Alpilean is $59 for a 30-day supply; a minimum of three to six months is recommended “so it has enough time to work throughout your entire body to target your inner body temperature, reach your desired weight, and lock it in for years into the future,” the website says.

How to Follow the Alpine Ice Hack

The alpine ice hack is not a specific diet.  In fact, the company claims no changes in diet or exercise are required to start melting belly fat, which is a big red flag for any weight management plan. 

While the online videos tout the benefits of ice, the Alpilean company behind the ice hack trend says the only thing you need to do is take their weight loss pill and you will begin to “dissolve fat even when you are sleeping.”

To follow the program, you are instructed to take one capsule daily with a glass of cold water. No other recommendations are made.

In contrast, effective and evidence-based weight management programs include behavior modification, along with changes in eating and activity habits.

What Is the Role of Ice?

Even though the ice hack is not really about ice, this isn’t the first time ice has been declared to be the secret to losing weight. In 2014, Dr. Brian Weiner, a physician in New Jersey, created The Ice Diet, claiming that eating ice burns calories because it requires energy for the body to melt the cubes.
Yet, in reality, the cold exposure has a negligible impact on metabolism, says Tewksbury. It could even have an opposite effect.

“A few animal studies have found that chronic cold exposure leads to overeating, something that hasn’t been studied in humans but would make weight loss more difficult if it does occur,” says Tewksbury.

Studies have also shown that athletes who drank cold water during exercise were able to delay the increase in core body temperature, which actually reduced their metabolic rates instead of raising it as the ice theory proposes.

Ice Hack Alternative

To make matters even more confusing (and misleading) some of the ice hack posts are sending viewers to another video promoting the “Mediterranean ritual” to miraculously melt belly fat. The influencers use similar talking points and show glasses of ice water, but they’re selling a different supplement from a company called Liv Pure with ingredients from the Mediterranean instead of the Himalayan Alps.

Liv Pure is purported to detoxify and regenerate your liver. Rather than blaming obesity on a low inner body temperature like Alpilean, the Liv Pure company claims that a compromised liver is the hidden cause of stubborn belly fat. Many of the TikTok videos are tagged with @slimmingsquads and prompt viewers to click the link in the bio to watch the testimonial video featuring founder Dan Saunders, a firefighter from Sarasota, Florida, who created Liv Pure to help his wife lose weight. Each bottle of Liv Pure is $69 for a 30-day supply.

Liv Pure has multiple websites promoting the supplements, and they appear strikingly similar to the Alpilean websites in their design and language.
Beyond TikTok, the companies are using Facebook ads, YouTube testimonials and a staggering amount of paid advertorials, or sponsored articles, on mainstream media sites to promote the ice hack and the two dietary supplements.

The companies have made it difficult for anyone to do research online to check the validity of the claims because they’ve flooded the web with positive content including videos and articles that say “honest reviews,” “truth exposed,” or “don’t buy before you see this.” You may be seeking objective information about the ice hack, but instead you’ll only find more promotions for the supplements.

Bottom Line: Should You Try the Ice Hack for Weight Loss?

The well-funded social media campaign to sell these supplements uses influencer testimonials rather than traditional advertising. Promotion also attempts to use a halo of science, including co-opting the prestige of Stanford University, but the claims are far from science-based.

“The ice hack is a gross extrapolation from our work,” says Stanford’s Parsonnet.

“I do think temperature, weight and metabolism are linked, but I also think this relationship is extremely complicated and won’t be fixed by simple dietary supplements,” she says. “I don’t see any reason to believe that eating ice or taking these supplements would cause weight loss.”