Daily Water Intake for Weight Loss

The best diet drink out there costs pennies, is proven to help you shed those unwanted pounds and you already have it in your kitchen. The miracle beverage? Water. Numerous studies indicate that consuming more water throughout the day--particularly a full glass before meals--will help you get to your target weight faster.

Woman drinking glass of water after exercising (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Benefits

Drinking water before sitting down to eat can help you lose weight, according to a study published in the Feb. 18, 2010, issue of Obesity. In this study, overweight middle-aged and older adults who consumed a 16-ounce glass of water preceding a meal reduced their calorie consumption and lost more weight than those who did not drink the water before eating. For the greatest benefits, don't sip water throughout the meal--which can actually hinder proper digestion--but instead drink it before you start the meal.

Theories

One possible explanation for water's role in weight loss is that thirst can easily be mistaken for hunger. When study participants satiated their thirst, their feelings of hunger diminished. Another possibility is that the volume of water consumed directly before the meal provided a short filling sensation in the stomach, reducing the space available for food. Another theory scientists propose is that water plays a role in fat metabolism, though more research is necessary to confirm exactly how this works.

Misconceptions

As helpful as water is in weight loss, you may think fruit juice or even soda would do the trick. Unfortunately, consuming soda and juice actually hinders weight loss. Calories should come from food, not beverages, for successful weight maintenance. Even diet soda may hinder weight loss due to its interference with the brain's response to sweet substances, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Recommendations

The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends drinking at least 96 ounces of water daily -- that's a whopping 12 eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Luckily, a few simple habits can help to increase your water intake slowly until you reach the recommended amount. For example, purchase a fun, sporty water bottle that you'll enjoy carrying around to ensure that you always have water at hand. If you don't like the taste of water on its own, tossing a slice of lemon or lime into your water will make it easier for you to meet your water consumption -- and weight loss -- goals.

Warning

Although most Americans don't drink enough water, drinking too much poses serious health risks. Hyponatremia is a condition in which concentrations of sodium in the blood dip too low and can result from drinking too much water too quickly. To avoid hyponatremia, consult your physician if you believe you need to consume significantly more than the recommended amount of water. If this is the case, your doctor may recommend supplementing with sports drinks to replace lost electrolytes.

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