It’s essential to drink water regularly. The CDC recommends adults drink about 2-3 liters of water each day, roughly equal to 8 to 12 cups. Drinking Water helps our bodies perform essential functions like maintaining blood pressure and temperature and keeping organs working properly. Hence, it makes sense that making sure you stay hydrated will help keep your body healthy.
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But what about the idea that drinking more water can help you lose weight? That may be true in some cases, but unfortunately, there isn’t much science to back up the claim. One study found that drinking 500ml of water 30 minutes before meals helped people lose weight and reduce their appetite. Still, the results were only statistically significant for men—not women—and the effect was small enough that it shouldn’t be used as a tool for weight loss on its own.
Another study found similar results among overweight children and adolescents; both groups lost more weight when they drank 500ml of water 30 minutes before breakfast compared to when they didn’t drink any water at all—but again, it didn’t make a difference for participants who were already within their recommended BMI range.
All this leaves us with some interesting questions: Does drinking lots of water make you feel full? Does it prevent dehydration during exercise? Will it boost your metabolism during workouts? Unfortunately, those questions haven’t been answered yet either—so if you want answers about how much liquid you should be consuming or whether or not drinking cold water can burn calories (spoiler alert: no), check out our guide on how many calories are in different types of beverages here.
Why Is Water Important, Anyway?
Water is critical for optimal health, and drinking enough water is important for your body to function properly. You need water to carry out many of your body’s vital processes.
Water helps you remove waste from your body through urine and sweat.
Water regulates both blood pressure and body temperature.
Drinking enough water keeps you cool when it’s hot outside or during a workout. Sweating helps regulate core temperature, but sweat will only be effective if you have enough water.
While there are no scientifically proven benefits that higher water intake improves weight loss specifically, there are other health benefits to drinking more H2O that may help offer mental clarity, boost metabolism, provide energy, aid in digestion, and reduce fatigue (which can lead to snacking on sugary items).
Can Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight?
The short answer: Yes, but not by much.
Let’s be clear: Drinking water isn’t a magic bullet that will make you lose weight. However, it can help support your weight-loss goals in a few ways:
- Water is almost calorie-free. This means you can drink as much of it as possible without breaking your daily caloric budget or gaining weight. Many sugary drinks (like soda and juice) are packed with calories—so by replacing these with water, you could save enough calories from losing some pounds.
- Drinking water before meals may reduce your appetite and make you eat less at mealtime. Studies had shown that people who drank two cups of water 30 minutes before their meals lost 44% more weight than those who didn’t drink water beforehand. Drinking water may help stretch the stomach, which helps decrease hunger pangs and overall appetite—which explains why this strategy works to help people lose weight!
- When you’re dehydrated (not getting enough fluid), your body has to work harder to perform its normal functions like digesting food and flushing waste from the body in urine or sweat—and dehydration is associated with an increased risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections too. Dehydrated bodies don’t function efficiently, so they struggle to burn off excess calories. So if you’re dehydrated, your metabolism gets a little slower, which may contribute to weight gain over time.*
1. It Might Reduce Your Intake of Carbohydrate-Rich Foods
- It Might Reduce Your Intake of Carbohydrate-Rich Foods
Carbohydrate-rich foods are the main source of energy for your body, and they’re found in foods like potatoes, bread, and pasta — all things that we typically eat a lot of in America. By not drinking water before these carb-heavy meals, you might find yourself hungrier than usual and have an increased calorie intake. However, if you drink water right before eating, your stomach may feel fuller quicker and reduce the amount of food you consume.
Decreasing your carbohydrate intake will cause weight loss because it reduces calories consumed each day, which helps create a calorie deficit. A review published in Nutrition Reviews established that people who drink two cups (16 oz.) of water 30 minutes before eating their meals lose more weight than those who don’t drink water before their meals. The reason why is because consuming two cups of water right before eating a meal reduces total energy intake by 75 calories on average due to increased satiety — the feeling of fullness or satisfaction after eating a meal — according to this review.
2. It Could Make You Feel Fuller Before a Meal
Think of your body as a car. If you’ve just filled up the gas tank, it’s probably not going to get very far without having to stop and refuel. Similarly, if your stomach is empty, you may eat more than you need to feel satisfied.
Sipping on water throughout the day or drinking a glass before each meal may help keep you from overeating during meals by making you feel fuller beforehand. Remaining hydrated can also help curb cravings by preventing brain fog (which sometimes masquerades as hunger). Your digestive system can work more smoothly when food enters the picture (prompting fewer IBS flare-ups).
3. It Could Slightly Increase Your Metabolism
The name for the process by which your body converts the nutrients and calories you get from food into energy is metabolism. Metabolism can be affected by several different things, including how much water you drink, what type of food you eat, the amount of sleep you get, how much exercise you do, and your stress levels.
While it may not seem like something that happens in your body daily would be impacted by whether or not you drink enough water, it does make sense that dehydration could slow down how well your body processes its fuel sources. Think about it: if anything in life needs liquid to function properly (or even at all), it’s most likely going to be machinery or an engine—and a dehydrated person is probably not pumping as efficiently as one who’s getting enough H2O every day.
How Much Water Should You Drink to Lose Weight?
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people should drink 8-12 glasses of water each day. That’s about a half-gallon per person. Drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest ways to facilitate weight loss. Ideal amounts will vary from person to person, but generally speaking, it’s important to stay hydrated and drink enough after exercise.
As far as your water intake goes, there are no magic numbers that will work for everyone (unless you’re chugging along with a gallon challenge). If you don’t like guzzling straight H2O all day long, try adding some slices of lemon, cucumber or mint leaves for a more pleasant flavor. And because caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea count toward your daily consumption, you can knock back one or two cups without worrying about falling behind on your hydration needs.
The Key Takeaways
So, there’s no magic bullet for weight loss, but drinking water-huge amounts of it every day certainly plays a vital role in helping you achieve your weight loss goals. When you’re feeling hungry between meals and tempted to snack on some chips or a candy bar, that’s worth remembering. If you’re not sure whether you may be thirsty rather than hungry, try downing a glass of water the next time a craving strikes.
You might find that, happily, the unwanted calories are avoided! In addition to an extra dose of hydration, studies have shown that dieters who drink plenty of water tend to lose more weight than those who don’t get up their water intake-so it’s well worth making sure you’re hitting your daily quota.