The Ice Hack: Melt Away Belly Fat or a Weight Loss Mirage?
Social media platforms like TikTok have recently witnessed the rise of the “ice hack diet” or “alpine ice diet,” with claims of miraculous weight loss. These sensationalized videos promise users the ability to “melt away belly fat,” “lose weight really fast,” or “flush one pound of belly fat every day.” They have garnered millions of views and piqued the curiosity of countless individuals.
However, as with many trends, the reality behind these extravagant promises falls short of expectations. Nutrition experts and healthcare professionals are quick to point out the skepticism surrounding these viral claims. According to Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, the creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It, these fads often lack substance and are short-lived.
Debunking the Ice Hack Diet: What’s Really Behind It?
Surprisingly, the “ice hack” has nothing to do with ice itself. Instead, it’s a thinly-veiled marketing ploy promoting a supplement known as Alpilean. This supplement is advertised as containing “six alpine nutrients clinically proven to promote healthy weight loss by raising the inner body temperature to speed up the metabolism,” according to the manufacturer’s website. The supplement, available for $59 per 30-day supply, is marketed as a solution to combat obesity by normalizing body temperature.
The ice hack diet’s promotional materials suggest taking the supplement with a large glass of cold water daily, claiming it can dissolve fat “even when sleeping.” In essence, the ice hack diet is, in reality, a glorified advertisement, as noted by Tiffany Lowe Clayton, DO, an obesity-medicine specialist at WakeMed in North Carolina.
The Scientific Reality: Can the Alpine Ice Hack Aid in Weight Loss?
While there is some truth in the ice hack’s exploitation of the relationship between body temperature, metabolism, and weight, there is no scientific basis to support the claim that a supplement like Alpilean can regulate core body temperature and directly lead to weight loss. Dr. Lowe Clayton emphasizes the unfounded nature of these claims, noting potential interactions with medications as a cause for concern.
The Alpilean supplement consists of ingredients such as golden algae, dika nut, drumstick tree leaf, bigarade orange, ginger, and turmeric. Although ginger and turmeric have demonstrated anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties, neither ingredient has significant evidence supporting its role in affecting body temperature and inducing weight loss, especially without complementary behavioral modifications. Dika nut, also known as African mango, shows potential benefits for weight loss in small studies but requires further research.
Of particular concern is the use of bigarade orange in the supplement, which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has identified as a common substitute for ephedra in dietary supplements. Ephedra is banned in the United States due to its association with elevated blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Deciphering Body Temperature and Weight: What Does the Research Reveal?
The connection between body temperature, metabolism, weight, and types of body fat, such as “brown fat,” has been the subject of research. Brown fat has shown promise in calorie burning and heat generation, potentially contributing to obesity treatment. Nevertheless, the links between body temperature and weight are intricate and not fully understood, contradicting the claims made by the ice hack diet.
A 2020 study, cited by the supplement manufacturer, tracked a decrease in Americans’ inner body temperature since the Industrial Revolution, coinciding with an increase in collective weight. However, correlation does not imply causation, as numerous other factors influence body temperature, including gender, age, time of day, and even the act of telling a lie.
Dr. Lowe Clayton dismisses the claims, stating that the evidence concerning body temperature and weight is minimal at best and is not a reliable basis for obesity treatment.
Safety Concerns: Is the Alpine Ice Hack Diet Safe?
As with most supplements, Alpilean is inadequately regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), raising concerns about the accuracy of the product’s labeling. Therefore, healthcare professionals advise consulting with a healthcare provider before taking this or any other supplement. To enhance safety and verify product contents, Taub-Dix suggests looking for a USP Verified Seal, which Alpilean does not possess.