The path to successful weight loss starts with adding one healthy habit at a time. Many of us need to start with something simple that is easy to commit to. For me, that was making sure I drink enough water each day. Now maybe you are thinking…seriously?! Will drinking water help you lose weight? Well it certainly helped me, and research supports the fact that drinking water does assist in weight loss, as well as many other health benefits.
How much water is the right amount?
The truth is, water requirements vary from one person to another. Individual water needs vary with physical activity, climate, age, etc. You should always drink when you are thirsty and drink enough to quench your thirst. The most common recommendation is to drink 8 glasses, or 64 ounces, of water daily. Some health experts suggest 1/2 oz for every pound you weigh. For example: A 140 lb person should try to drink 70 oz of water per day. Research suggests that drinking 1-2 liters of water per day should be adequate to help with weight loss. I generally aim for at least 64 ounces. There are some really great water bottles available that make it easy to track your water intake, thus increasing your odds of success. It is otherwise common to over-estimate the amount you are drinking if you aren’t keeping track.
Why is drinking water so important?
Water is essential for life. Nearly 2/3 of our body, by weight, is made up of water. Staying properly hydrated is important for improving energy, having a healthy immune system to ward off illness, improving memory and problem-solving, stabilizing mood, and clearing toxins from the body. Adequate water consumption reduces the risk of osteoporosis, helps with constipation, is necessary for the regulation of body temperature, and improves kidney function, reducing the risk for kidney stones. Water is essential for transporting oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. If you find yourself to be irritable, struggling to concentrate, having low on energy, or having frequent headaches, it is quite possible that you are dehydrated. Studies have shown a reduction in migraine frequency and intensity for subjects who drank 1.5 liters of water daily. Staying hydrated also greatly improves the look and feel of your skin. Hydrated skin is more plump and radiant, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and revealing a more youthful-looking reflection in the mirror. Who doesn’t want that?!
How does water help you lose weight?
Now that you understand some other health benefits of drinking water, let’s look at the ways in which water consumption helps with weight loss.
- It is calorie-free. Replacing sugared or other caloric beverages with water is an immediate and easy reduction in daily calories consumed. Fewer calories consumed means greater odds of weight loss.
- It improves fat loss. Without adequate water intake, you will not be able to effectively flush out the by-products of fat breakdown, thus hindering potential weight loss. If there isn’t enough water in your body to dilute waste products, kidney function can become impaired. If that happens, your liver may have to pick up the slack for the kidneys, which reduces its ability to best perform all of its normal functions. Unfortunately, burning fat then falls lower on the priority list.
- It reduces appetite. Sometimes thirst or the need for water can be misinterpreted as hunger. Drinking water before meals can decrease your appetite and cause you to eat less at meals. Studies have shown significant reduction in calories consumed by older and middle-aged adults who drank water prior to each meal, resulting in more weight loss when compared with those who did not drink water prior to meals.
- It promotes metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30 percent. The increase in metabolic rate was seen within 10 minutes of drinking the water and reached a maximum after 30-40 minutes. An increase in metabolic rate helps promote weight loss.
How can you make water more appealing?
Some people enjoy drinking water and naturally choose it over other beverages. If, however, you are someone who prefers flavored beverages or don’t like the taste of tap water, making the switch to water can be more difficult. There are a number of ways to enhance or improve the flavor of water. Some common methods:
- Filter your water. There are several options for filtering tap water. You can add a filtration attachment directly to your tap, buy a filtration system, or simply use a filtration pitcher.
- Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruit such as lemon, lime, and orange are the most commonly used fruits to enhance water. Other options are strawberries, raspberries, and even cucumbers (pair well with mint). They can be added directly to the water, or you can use a water infuser. There are many great options for infusion pitchers and even infusion water bottles.
- Add fruit to ice cubes. An alternative to putting fruit directly into the water is to chop it and freeze, with water, in an ice cube tray. Add the fruity ice cubes when you pour a glass, and you have gradual infusion of fruit flavor as the ice melts.
- Add sugar free flavoring. There are many options for adding drops of flavor to water. It is best to look for those that have no artificial sweeteners. Stevia is a natural sweetener found in some more recently available products.
- Add ice. Sometimes making your water taste better can be as simple as making your water cold.
Water is a Win-Win
To answer the question, “will water help you lose weight?”, I would say it definitely helps. Not only does it help with weight loss efforts, it has many other health benefits. To achieve the greatest success in your weight loss efforts, drinking adequate water must be combined with proper nutrition and other healthy habits. Healthy habits happen one at a time. Drinking more water each day is a great place to start. Find a way to increase your odds of success with that first goal, perhaps using some suggestions above, and take credit for committing to make a positive change. Seeing success and feeling the benefits from it will help inspire the next healthy habit. Here is to step one on the road to better health…drink up!