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How Many Glasses of Water Should You Drink a Day to Lose Weight?

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
How Many Glasses of Water Should You Drink a Day to Lose Weight?
Drinking 2 cups of water before you eat may help you eat less. Photo Credit: Central IT Alliance/iStock/Getty Images

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 total amount you should drink each day specific for weight loss, drinking 2 cups before each meal seems to be very effective at helping people lose unwanted pounds. Before you start guzzling, though, talk to your doctor or consult a dietitian to help you tweak your entire diet to help you get results you want.

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Water and 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 2015 clinical study published in Obesity. If you're following a weight-loss diet, drinking 2 cups of water before each meal may help you lose even more weight, according to a 2010 clinical study published in Obesity. This study compared the effects of drinking or not drinking water before a meal on a group of obese adults following a low-calorie diet, and it found the water drinkers lost 4 more pounds than those who didn't drink the water before meals over the 12-week study time frame.

How Water Supports Fat Loss

Water helps you lose weight in two ways. First, it fills you up so you eat less. The researchers from the 2010 Obesity study report that drinking water before a meal may help people reduce their daily intake by as much as 225 calories.

Second, water may also slightly increase your metabolic rate, which is your body's calorie-burning system. Gulping 2 cups of water in one sitting increases your metabolism by 30 percent for 30 to 40 minutes, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. The increase occurs because your body is working to warm the water up from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The authors of this study report that drinking 70 ounces of water a day may help you burn almost 100 extra calories. That's a little less than 1 pound a month, assuming you're drinking 70 ounces of ice water every single day.

How Many Glasses Do You Need?

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 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 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.

Adding Flavor to Help You Drink More

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.

It's important note, however, that diet drinks do not have the same weight-loss benefits as plain water. Artificial sweeteners, similar to sugar, increase appetite, according to 2010 article published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, and this may cause you to eat more. So you might want to skip flavoring your water with powdered sugar-free lemonade.

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