Should you drink hot or cold drinks to cool down during the heatwave?


Temperatures are set to top UK records this week, potentially climbing higher than 40C in some parts of the country.

The weather is expected to be so hot across Monday and Tuesday that it could be a risk to life, the Met Office has warned.

With the mercury rising during the heatwave, parched Brits are likely to be reaching for the coldest drink they can find – and even an ice cream to go with it – in a bid to stay cool.

But while the natural instinct is to drink ice-cold beverages when it is roasting, could hot drinks be better for lowering the body temperature?

One study thinks it could have its benefits.

Should you have hot or cold drinks in hot weather?

A study has suggested that hot drinks such as teas and coffees may surprisingly be more effective at keeping your body temperature down.

A study in 2012 by researchers from the University of Ottawa looked at the effect of drinking hot drinks on body temperature.

The results revealed that a hot drink can cool you down, but only in dry conditions.

Speaking to the Smithsonian Mag, Dr Ollie Jay, one of the authors of the study, explained: “If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that’s produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate.”

How it works

The experts found that when a person ingests a hot drink, they start sweating more.

If the sweat is able to evaporate, it actually cools the body down, more than compensating for the added heat to the body from the fluid.

While sweating can be embarrassing, it’s an essential bodily function to help keep us cool.

As the sweat evaporates from the surface of the skin, it removes excess heat by converting the water from a liquid to a vapour.

When isn’t it a good idea to drink hot drinks in warm weather?

In humid conditions, the cooling effect via sweating is less effective, so drinking hot drinks won’t have the same desired effect.

Dr Jay explained: “On a very hot and humid day, if you’re wearing a lot of clothing, or if you’re having so much sweat that it starts to drip on the ground and doesn’t evaporate from the skin’s surface, then drinking a hot drink is a bad thing.

“The hot drink still does add a little heat to the body, so if the sweat’s not going to assist in evaporation, go for a cold drink.”

Overall, the lesson is that in hot, dry conditions, hot drinks will cool you down, but if you’re in a humid location, it’s best to stick to cold beverages.

Experts recommend drinking plenty of water and low-sugar diluted juices to keep hydrated, and to stay away from fizzy and sugary drinks in the heat.