Will drinking water reduce belly fat? It can certainly help. Not only is water a calorie-free way to quench your thirst, but it also helps fill you up so you eat less. Staying hydrated is also key to whittling your waistline.
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Drink Up, Slim Down
As much as 60 percent of your body is made of water, according to USGS. Your brain and heart are nearly three-fourths water, your lungs are 83 percent water, and your muscles and kidneys are almost 80 percent water. Even your bones are 31 percent water.
Needless to say, it's crucial to drink enough liquids every day to replace losses through sweat, urine and other fluids. But not all liquids are created equal. Soda counts as a liquid; so do milk and sweetened tea. A sugary coffee drink could count towards your daily hydration, too.
But water has something going for it that those other liquids don't — it's calorie free. You can drink as much of it as you want, and you don't have to worry about it adding calories to your daily total.
Just cutting out one can of sugary soda at lunch and replacing it with a tall glass of cold water — or sparkling water — can save you 155 calories a day. Do that over a week, and you'll save 1,085 calories. According to Mayo Clinic, there are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat. Giving up a soda every day for a month and drinking water instead could, theoretically, help you lose 1.25 pounds of fat.
Not all calories burned are from fat. Especially when you first start dieting, your body may burn other substances for fuel, including stored carbohydrates and protein, according to a research review published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in June 2014. After maintaining a calorie deficit for several days to weeks, your body will begin burning fat at a faster rate.
Curb Your Appetite
Try this: Next time you're really hungry, pour yourself a big glass of water, drink it down, then see how you feel. Chances are you won't feel as voracious as you did pre-hydration.
Water is calorie- and nutrient-free, but it still takes up space in your stomach. So you can drink a glass of water when you're feeling peckish but it's not yet mealtime, and you'll avoid adding extra unnecessary calories to your total. You can also drink a big glass of water before you sit down to a meal, and it may help you eat less.
Additionally, people often mistake hunger for thirst, reports Mayo Clinic. You may be tempted to reach for a snack when in fact what you need is a tall glass of water. When hunger strikes between meals, the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation recommends drinking a glass of water, then waiting 15 minutes to see if you're still hungry. Staying hydrated so that you don't become thirsty (thirst is a sign that you're already dehydrated) can help prevent these mixed messages.
You can't spot-reduce fat. You may be eager to get a flat belly by a certain deadline, but your body doesn't really care. It's going to mobilize fat stores from the most convenient places, without regard to your hopes and dreams. But be patient; if you stick with your diet, you will start to shed stomach fat.
Make Water Interesting
Drinking glass after glass of lukewarm tap water every day can make it even harder to refuse a cold can of soda. So get creative.
First of all, invest in a water filter that makes your water taste clean and fresh. Keep some chilled water in the refrigerator, which often tastes better than room-temperature water. If you're used to the fizz of soda, drink your water with bubbles. There are many brands of sparkling water with natural flavors and no calories available on the market.
A more budget-friendly and environmentally-conscious option is to flavor your water yourself. Adding cucumbers, mint, fresh raspberries, ginger, lemon or orange slices, or any combination tantalizes your taste buds and helps stave off hunger. There are endless options, so water never has to be boring again.
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Time to Correctly Predict the Amount of Weight Loss With Dieting"
- Mayo Clinic: "Want to Stay Hydrated? Drink Before You're Thirsty"
- Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation: "Hunger vs. Thirst: Tips to Tell the Difference"
- ACE: "Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn"
- USGS: "The Water in You: Water and the Human Body"