Drink Up! How Drinking Water Can Help You Lose Weight

Losing weight is not just about what you eat—it’s also about what you drink. Not only is the humble glass of water a no-calorie, healthful and free beverage, it may also help you in your efforts to slim down.

How much water should you drink?

Health experts say you should consider a range of factors including age, activity level, body size, temperature and humidity, health issues, and sun exposure when determining how much to drink. In addition, you meet your need for water not only through drinking H2O, but also through other beverages and the food you eat. One recommendation, from The National Academies of Sciences, recommends that women consume approximately 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of water from all foods and beverages in a day, and that men take in approximately 125 ounces (3.7 liters).

One way to see if you’re drinking enough is to check the bowl after you urinate. Your urine should be light to clear and have little to no odor. The darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are.

Ways water may help you lose

The first and most obvious way drinking water can help you lose weight is by reducing the number of liquid calories you take in. Swap plain water for a soda, sugary coffee drink, or juice and you’ll automatically ingest fewer calories and less sugar. One study found that this simple substitution resulted in average weight losses of 2 to 2.5 percent.

Drinking water helps you feel full, which can help you to eat less. Simply put, water takes up space in your stomach. Drink a glass of water before each meal, and you may take in fewer calories than you normally would. (This practice seems to be most effective in middle-aged adults.)

Since the symptoms of mild dehydration sometimes masquerade as hunger, drinking water may keep you from eating snacks your body doesn’t need. If you’re feeling headachy, cranky, or are having trouble concentrating, you may be tempted to eat when you’re really thirsty. Sip some H2O instead of eating unnecessary calories.

Water is essential to keep your metabolism humming smoothly. Your body needs water for just about every function, from burning fat, to digestion and absorption of nutrients, to flushing toxins through sweat, urine, and bowel movements. Proper water intake helps keep you from becoming constipated as you make dietary changes, particularly as you start eating more fiber-rich foods like vegetables. You’ll feel better, lighter and less bloated when your body’s processes are working smoothly.

Proper hydration makes exercise easier and more effective. Among other things, water keeps muscles and joints lubricated so you can work out more comfortably and longer. Not drinking enough water can also affect athletic performance and/or cause muscle cramping.

Drink up

Make staying well-hydrated one of your new healthy habits. Spread your water intake throughout the day, and don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink. Here are some suggestions to help you drink more:

  • Drink water with each meal
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you
  • Keep a glass of water at your desk
  • Drink as soon as you wake up
  • Eat more water-rich foods such as soups, smoothies, and fruits and vegetables like lettuce, berries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and melons.
  • Drink before, during, and after exercise
  • Remind yourself to drink more water—stick a note on your computer, set an alarm on your phone, etc.
  • Prepare and freeze water bottles the night before so you’ll have ice cold water to drink throughout the day
  • Flavor plain water with lemon juice or other sugar-free flavoring
  • Try carbonated water

Drinking water is not a magic cure for losing weight, but it can certainly be a simple, inexpensive, and helpful part of your weight loss plan.