Of all the ways to lose weight, drinking water may be one of the easiest. It's calorie-free, helps fill you up and may even help your body burn more calories. While there's no set amount you should drink each day for weight loss, drinking 2 cups before each meal can help you shed unwanted pounds.
Drinking 2 cups of water before meals can encourage weight loss and overall good health. In general, to meet your daily water needs, you should drink about 4 cups of water for every 50 pounds of body weight.
Drink Water for Weight Loss
Drinking water can help you lose weight, whether you're restricting your calories or not. Consuming 2 cups of water before a meal helped a group of obese adults lose 2 pounds over a 12-week period without making any other changes to their usual intake, according to a September 2015 clinical study published in the journal Obesity.
Harvard Health Publishing also noted the benefits of increasing consumption of plain water, as reported in a study published in February 2016 in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. The study examined the eating and drinking habits of 18,311 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2012.
Of those surveyed, people who drank the most plain water consumed fewer calories and fewer sweetened beverages as well as less fat, sugar, salt and cholesterol. The research supports prior studies showing that drinking water before meals and consuming fewer sweetened beverages can reduce overall calorie intake and aid in weight loss and maintenance, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
How Water Supports Fat Loss
Water helps you lose weight in several different ways. For one, it fills you up, thereby sending a signal to your brain that you're satiated. As a result, you may eat less and therefore decrease calorie intake.
According to research published in June 2014 in Acta Physiologica, drinking water may also slightly increase your metabolism, which is your body's calorie-burning system. When you drink cold or room temperature water in particular, your body works to warm up the water to intra-abdominal temperature levels. This process slightly increases energy expenditure in the 90 minutes after consumption.
In addition, water works to metabolize stored fat, a process known as lipolysis. A June 2016 mini review published in Frontiers in Nutrition hypothesized that increased water consumption boosts lipolysis and the associated fat loss, based on animal studies. The findings also point to water's potential for decreasing the risk of Alzheimer's, obesity, diabetes and other diseases.
Read more: Can Cardio Boost Metabolism?
How Many Glasses Are Needed?
Drinking 2 cups of water before each meal is a good place to start. However, you may need to drink more or less, depending on a number of factors, such as your age, gender, how active you are, the temperature, what you eat, the types of medications you take and medical conditions. In general, you need 4 cups of water for every 50 pounds of body weight, according to the Clemson Cooperative Extension. So a person weighing 175 pounds would need 14 cups.
Talk to your doctor to help you determine your daily water needs not just for weight loss, but also overall health. Drinking an adequate amount of water each day keeps your body hydrated, supports the delivery of nutrients, promotes muscle strength and keeps your skin and organs moist.
Tips to Add Flavor
If plain water is just too plain, use herbs, veggies and fruit to add natural flavor. Make your own spa water to drink throughout the day by filling a pitcher with water and ice and adding slices of cucumber and mint, lemon and oranges or strawberries and limes. If you like bubbles in your liquids, seltzer water works just fine. Add flavor with a spritz of lemon or drop of 100-percent cranberry juice.
Read more: 12 Ways to Make Water Taste (Much) Better
It's important to note, however, that diet drinks do not have the same weight-loss benefits as plain water. Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium and saccharin provide the sweet taste of sugar without the calories.
Yet consuming these sweeteners may have negative long-term health effects, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, according to research published in June 2016 in the journal Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. So you might want to skip flavoring your water with powdered sugar-free lemonade.
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- Obesity: "Efficacy of Water Preloading Before Main Meals as a Strategy for Weight Loss in Primary Care Patients With Obesity: RCT"
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: "Fluid Needs"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Big Benefits of Plain Water"
- Wiley Online Library: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: "Plain Water Consumption in Relation to Energy Intake and Diet Quality Among US Adults, 2005–2012"
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Acta Physiologica: "Cardiovascular and Metabolic Responses to Tap Water Ingestion in Young Humans: Does the Water Temperature Matter?"
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Frontiers in Nutrition: "Increased Hydration Can Be Associated With Weight Loss"
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences: "Not-So-Healthy Sugar Substitutes?"