Can the Ice Hack Help You Lose Belly Fat?

“Melt away belly fat!” “Lose weight really fast!” “Flush one pound of belly fat every day!” These are some of the captivating claims about the so-called “ice hack diet” or “alpine ice diet” that are circulating on TikTok — and amassing millions of views.

The videos tout a new “diet secret” involving a glass of ice and a mysterious white powder, and show before-and-after photos of relatives who purportedly lost 60 to 80 pounds using that secret — no diet or exercise needed. Viewers are urged to check the link with the details quickly, before the posts get taken down for “exposing the lies of the weight loss industry.”

If this all sounds a bit gimmicky, it absolutely is. “Once you hear that you don’t have to move your body or think about what you’re eating, you know this is a fad and probably not true,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, the creator of BetterThanDieting.com and the author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label to Table. “Just like TikTok videos, all of these fads are short lived — hopefully.”

So why has the ice hack diet been so popular, and what exactly are the claims behind this mysterious fat-loss method? Here’s what nutrition experts say you should know about the latest weight loss craze.

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What Is the Ice Hack Diet (aka Alpine Ice Diet)?

People clicking links for the ice hack diet in hopes of discovering some kind of secret about the cubes in their water glass are bound to be disappointed. In spite of the name, this so-called diet hack is not about ice at all, but rather a promotion for a supplement called Alpilean that contains “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 manufacturer sells a 30-day supply of the supplements for $59.

The company claims that low internal body temperature is the culprit of obesity, and that by “normalizing your internal body temperature,” higher-weight people can become thin. Purportedly, these supplements can help achieve that. The only nod to ice in the brand’s promotional materials is the suggestion to take the supplement with a big glass of cold water daily in order to dissolve fat “even when sleeping.”

Essentially, the ice hack diet is a glorified advertisement, says Tiffany Lowe Clayton, DO, an obesity-medicine specialist at WakeMed in North Carolina. “It’s grabbed traction because social-media influencers are putting it out there as the best thing since sliced bread, but it’s not based on any professional opinion.”

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Can the Alpine Ice Hack Can Help With Weight Loss?

Another possible reason the alpine ice hack has taken off is that it plays on an element of truth: The relationships among body temperature, metabolism, and weight has been studied (more on that in a minute). However, there is no scientific evidence to bolster the claim that any supplement can regulate core body temperature, or that doing so directly leads to weight loss, despite the company’s claims.

“The claims they’re making are unfounded,” says Dr. Lowe Clayton, adding that some of the ingredients could also have risky interactions with medications. That’s a key reason why she recommends talking to a healthcare provider before taking Alpilean or any supplement.

Alpilean capsules contain golden algae, dika nut, drumstick tree leaf, bigarade orange, ginger, and turmeric. While ginger and turmeric have been shown to have some anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties, neither ingredient is well studied as a tool to affect body temperature and induce weight loss — especially without behavioral modifications, too. Dika nut, also known as African mango, has been linked to some potential pound-dropping benefits, but the studies are small and more research is needed.

Perhaps most concerning is the supplement’s use of bigarade orange, which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says is commonly used in dietary supplements as a substitute for ephedra, which is banned in the United States because it raises blood pressure and is linked to heart attack and stroke.

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What Does Research Tell Us About Body Temperature and Weight?

There is some connection between body temperature, metabolism, weight, and even types of body fat. So-called “brown fat,” for instance, has been shown to burn calories and generate heat, and may play a role in treating obesity, research suggests.

But the links between weight and body temperature are more complex and not as well understood as the ice hack diet’s founders posit, says Lowe Clayton, who is also an assistant professor and director of clinical education at Campbell University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Buies Creek, North Carolina.

In the study published in 2020 cited by the supplement seller, for instance, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine tracked how Americans’ inner body temperature has been decreasing since the Industrial Revolution. At the same time, our collective weights have gone up.

Correlation, however, does not necessarily equal causation. There are a host of other factors linked to body temperature, including gender, age, time of day, and even whether you’ve just told a lie.

“The company took the study and ran with it; they grossly misinterpreted it,” Lowe Clayton says. “The evidence about body temperature and weight is minimal at best, and it’s nothing that obesity medicine specialists would rely on for treatment plans.”

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Is the Alpine Ice Hack Diet Safe?

Like all supplements, Alpilean is not well regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so it can be difficult to be sure that what’s on the label is what’s in the bottle. That’s why, in addition to talking to a healthcare provider before taking them, Taub-Dix recommends looking for a USP Verified Seal, which helps cross-check a product’s safety and contents. Alpilean lacks this stamp.

Any pill, no matter how “natural” it’s advertised to be, can cause side effects, too. For instance, supplements containing bitter orange, another name for bigarade orange, can cause chest pain, anxiety, headaches, muscle and bone pain, an increased heart rate, and higher blood pressure, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements says.

Even the word “proprietary,” which is used in the pill’s promotional materials, as well as lofty claims like to “melt fat” without diet and exercise, raises red flags, notes the NIH.

“When we look at manufacturers of supplements, they understand that weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry,” Lowe Clayton says. “They play on a person’s desire to get to a healthier weight.”

Bottom Line: Should You Try the Ice Hack Diet?

There is little to no evidence supporting the ice-hack diet’s claims, experts say. At best, the product might encourage people to drink more water, which is good for dehydration and can suppress hunger, Taub-Dix says. But drinking a warm herbal tea can have that effect too — and the expensive supplement is unnecessary, if not potentially harmful.

“If you think there’s any credibility to this diet, and drinking ice water doesn’t make your teeth cold or force you to wear a heavy sweater, drink the water and skip the supplement,” says Taub-Dix. “Save your money.”

For healthy and sustainable weight loss or management that works, recruit the help of a medical professional trained in weight loss and management, Lowe Clayton emphasizes. “Obesity is a complex chronic disease state, and we have to treat it as such,” she says.

That means focusing on nourishing foods, physical activity, stress management, high-quality sleep, and, in some cases, medications or interventions with scientific support. “There is no magic bullet, there is no magic pill,” she says.