I've worked with many people over the years who have been trying to get healthier and lose weight. One question that often comes up is, "How much water should I drink?" Every weight loss program seems to require a certain amount of water. Some people have been told that drinking water helps them lose weight and some believe that water flushes the fat out of the body. The big question: Does drinking water really help you lose weight?
Unfortunately, water is not this magical fluid that zips through your body like PacMan chewing up fat cells and flushing them away! If only that were true... Water does, however, help flush out the by products of fat metabolism after your body burns off stored fat for energy. And that's a good thing.
That being said, water may in fact help with weight loss. Many people know from personal experience that drinking water helps them lose weight, but research on this was lacking. In 2010, Dr. Brenda Davy, a Virginia Tech associate professor of nutrition, provided the first research on this subject. She found that people who drank 2 glasses of water 20-30 minutes before each meal lost more initial weight and had a significantly higher total loss when compared to people who did not drink water pre-meal. It may be that water offers a way to fill up with a zero calorie price tag. In earlier research, Davy found that water drinkers ate 75 calories less at lunch and at dinner. That may not seems like much, but if you did that every day for a year and made no other changes to your calories in or out, you would lose 15.5 pounds in one year!
Dehydration reduces the rate at which you burn calories. Even if your body is just 1% dehydrated, your metabolic rate goes down, and you burn fewer calories. Staying well hydrated is very important both for weight loss and for overall health.
Some experts think that many of us mix up our body's thirst and hunger signals. Yep. This was certainly true for me. I used to think that any message my body was sending me said, "Eat Peanut M&M's." That was over 50 pounds ago! After I was drinking water regularly, I began recognizing when I was actually thirsty and not hungry---amazing. Filling up on foods high in water content can also help. Try reaching for soups, fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, yogurt, and other water-rich foods.
Why water and not any beverage? Water is perfect: at zero calories it quenches thirst and gives your stomach a sense of fullness. For most of us, water comes to us clean and ready-to-drink right from our taps, very environmentally friendly. All those benefits for absolutely zero calories. The all too popular soda, lemonade, "foo-foo" coffee drinks and smoothies, among others, offer way too many sugar calories and not much in the way of good nutrition.
Can drinking water help you lose weight? It certainly won't do all the work for you by off-setting an overdose of chips and dip. But, it's starting to look like drinking water may just help!