While it may seem like a no-brainer, drinking water to lose weight is advice that’s commonly said but rarely practiced. Really, when was the last time you made the effort to drink a full 8 glasses of water? Thankfully, with the general public taking an interest in self-care, more and more people are becoming aware of the immense health benefits of consuming enough water everyday.
But does water really help with weight loss? The short answer: yes. Many studies have proven that drinking water to lose weight is an effective method for weight loss and weight maintenance. How? Hydration is key for many factors that play a role in weight loss, as drinking water helps boost your metabolism, cleanse your body of waste, and even acts as an appetite suppressant! Not to mention, drinking more water helps your body to stop retaining fluids, leading you to drop those extra pounds of water weight.
Ultimately, making a conscious effort to drink more water is the best way to start your diet and weight loss journey. Not convinced? Here are 8 ways drinking water to lose weight is beneficial in the long-run:
Research has indicated that, by drinking water to lose weight, you burn more calories, as water can temporarily increase the body’s “resting energy expenditure,” or the number of calories burned while sedentary. In a 2014 study, 12 people who drank half a liter of cold and room temperature water experienced and increase in energy expenditure, burning 2-3 percent more calories than usual in the 90 minutes after consuming water.
Drinking cold water may further enhance water's calorie-burning benefits, because the body expends energy, or calories, by heating up the water for digestion.
Once the stomach senses that it’s full, it sends signals to the brain to decrease hunger so that you’ll stop wanting to eat. Drinking water to lose weight makes it so that the liquid takes up space in the stomach, leading to a feeling of fullness. This will “trick” your stomach into sending the “I’m full” signals to your brain, reducing hunger and ultimately leading to a reduced calorie intake, since water is naturally calorie-free.
Another thing is, a lot of people mistake thirst for hunger. A lot of the times, when you’re hungry for a snack, getting a glass of water before reaching for something to eat will curb the unnecessary snacking.
The body needs water to properly metabolize stored fat and carbohydrates. This process of metabolizing fat and carbs is called “lipolysis.”
The first step of lipolysis is “hydrolysis,” which occurs when water molecules interact with triglycerides (fats) to create glycerol and fatty acids (energy). In conclusion, drinking water to lose weight aids in lipolysis, and is crucial for burning off fat from your food and drink, as well as making sure that your body doesn’t store excess fat from dehydration.
Water, being calorie-free, is generally linked with reduced calorie intake. This is especially true when you drink water instead of other beverages, such as iced teas, sugary coffees, or sodas. These beverages are often high in sugar and calories, and often lead you to accumulate liquid calories without you noticing! Most people also don’t consider how many calories they consume when they drink sports drinks or alcohol.
When drinking water to lose weight, you should replace these beverages entirely with just water. You’ll be surprised to realize just how much you’ve reduced your calorie intake when you do! Observational studies have shown that people who drink mostly water have up to a 9% (or 200 calories) lower calorie intake on average.
Authors of a 2012 study found that replacing two or more high-calorie beverages for non-caloric drinks every day for half a year resulted in an average weight loss of between 2 and 2.5 percent in a group of females suffering from obesity.
Thus, replacing even just a few high-calorie drinks each day for water or other no-calorie beverages, such as herbal tea, helps build healthy hydration habits and could have long-term weight loss benefits.
Exercise is one of the most important components of any weight loss plan. But an essential part of exercise is proper hydration. Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramps and keeps your joints lubricated, allowing you to work out longer and harder. It’s especially important when exercising in hot, humid, or very sunny conditions, as water will help prevent dehydration and fatigue.
Water helps muscles, connective tissues, and joints to move correctly, all while helping your lungs, heart, and other organs to work effectively as you ramp up your heart rate during exercise. Being hydrated while this happens reduces the risk of things that can get in the way of a good workout, such as muscle cramps and fatigue. So always ensure you have a water bottle next to you to stay on track of your workout.
Water boosts your energy by preventing dehydration. Dehydration leads to fatigue because it impacts the flow of oxygen to the brain and causes your heart to work harder to pump oxygen to your organs, making you more tired and less alert. By hydrating, you don’t impede the flow of oxygen, keeping yourself energized and ready for the day.
When waste builds up in the body, people may feel bloated, swollen, and tired. Bloating can add inches to a person’s waist, and cause a host of other negative effects. This is caused by dehydration, as a dehydrated body can’t correctly remove waste from your stomach and intestines, leading to constipation and bloating. Water is important to the kidneys, helping your organs filter toxins and waste while keeping essential nutrients and electrolytes. When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys retain fluid, resulting in bloating, and in the worst-case scenario, hard stools and constipation.
Hydration is key to staying trim and healthy, as it de-bloats your stomach and keeps waste moving by softening or loosening hardened stools, as well as helping the body to recover from digestive problems, such as diarrhea and indigestion.
Studies have shown that dehydration leads to higher cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that triggers anxiety, shortness of breath, and other unpleasant symptoms. Stress could be especially bad for weight loss, as it could trigger binge eating or extreme loss of appetite, creating unhealthy eating habits. By staying hydrated, you keep your cortisol levels down, leaving you better equipped to handle yourself and your everyday tasks.
Most nutritionists recommend the “8x8” rule when drinking water to lose weight. 8x8 meaning eight eight-ounce glasses of water intake per day for weight loss or weight maintenance. You might need to consume more water if you live in very sunny conditions and sweat heavily, or if you exercise often. You also don’t need to drink as much water if you’re already consuming herbal teas, which are also zero-calorie and very healthy (as long as they’re decaffeinated!).
Another general rule is to check the toilet after you’ve gone to the bathroom. You’ll know you’re well-hydrated if your urine is clear or very light yellow in color. The darker your urine, the more water you need to drink, especially if you’re on a diet and weight loss is your goal.
As listed above, drinking water can be extremely helpful for weight loss. But while drinking more water has a plethora of benefits to your health and weight loss journey, it is definitely not a solution in of itself.
To lose a significant amount of weight, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just drink water. Water is just one small, but extremely important, piece of the weight-loss puzzle. But don’t be discouraged! Drinking more water is definitely the best step you can take when starting a weight loss program.
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