But does drinking water help you lose weight, or is it a myth? Here’s what science says about water and weight loss.
Can you drink water to lose weight?
Research suggests weight loss may be one of the many benefits of drinking water.1 Try these tips to apply these science-backed benefits to your routine:
1. Drink water before your meals.
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Try to avoid mistaking thirst for hunger pangs by having a glass of water before eating. One study found that middle-aged and older adults who followed a low-calorie diet and drank 16 ounces of water before eating their breakfast, lunch and dinner lost more weight than those who didn’t drink water before their meals.2 The researchers think water intake may have made participants feel more full, which helped prevent overeating. In a separate study, the University of Oxford found that overweight adults who drank 500 milliliters of water (just over 16 ounces) before their meals ate fewer calories and lost approximately 2.8 more pounds over twelve weeks than those who simply imagined their stomachs were full before sitting down to eat.1
2. Skip the sugar-sweetened drinks.
Since water is a naturally calorie-free beverage, swapping a sugary beverage for a glass of water is a smart choice to cut out extra calories. In fact, one study showed that those who drank plenty of water throughout the day had fewer sodas and fruit juices, and ate 194 fewer calories per day.3
3. Enjoy a glass of water to help jump-start your metabolism.
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Water can do more than manage your appetite: Drinking it may also help to temporarily boost your metabolism. An hour after study participants drank 500 ml of water, there was a 30% increase in their bodies’ ability to use energy.4 (These tips may also help increase your metabolism naturally!)
Here’s how much water should you drink daily
An easy way to remember how much water to drink each day is to think of the 8x8 rule: drinking a minimum of eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This is a basic guideline to follow, but you will likely need to drink more water especially if you’re in a warm environment, feel thirsty or are exercising. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend that healthy, sedentary adult men should aim to get 3.7 liters of water per day, while adult women should have 2.7 liters.5 These amounts include the water found in beverages, as well as in foods. Everyone’s needs will differ, so when in doubt, listen to your body.
Drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated and stick to your weight loss goals. You can also enjoy fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables that are great sources of water. And don’t be afraid to have a cup of coffee or tea – one study suggests that enjoying a caffeinated drink won’t have a significantly negative impact on hydration.6
Additional health benefits of drinking water
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While you can support your weight loss efforts by staying hydrated, there are other health benefits associated with drinking water. The body expels water in a variety of ways, like sweating and breathing, so it’s important to replenish what’s being lost by eating and drinking. Without enough water, your body may start to feel the effects of dehydration, including fatigue, dizziness, dry skin and dry mouth.7
Keeping yourself well-hydrated may also help support other parts of your body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:8
- Joints: Staying hydrated helps promote joint health. Your joints are cushioned by synovial fluid, a natural substance that’s made up of water and several other components.9 It also helps to transport nutrients to cartilage and remove waste.10
- Kidneys: Water flushes out the kidneys to remove waste. The National Kidney Foundation recommends drinking plenty of water to help prevent kidney stones and treat urinary tract infections.11
- Digestive system: Drinking water during a meal can help your body to process food and won’t disrupt digestion, the Mayo Clinic states.12 Water helps to break down food and ease bowel movements to prevent constipation.
- Cardiovascular system: Experiencing less than 2% dehydration – when you start feeling thirsty – could negatively impact how your blood cells function, according to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition.13 Staying hydrated will make it easier for your heart to pump blood through your blood vessels, says the American Heart Association.14
Water is one of the best beverages to help keep you hydrated and assist with healthy weight loss. And unlike soda, fruit juice and sports drinks, it won’t add unneeded calories to your diet. If you’re not used to drinking water regularly, make it easier to quench your thirst by keeping a water bottle close by. For a flavorful twist on plain water, try infusing your drink with fresh fruit!
Learn more about how to support your weight loss with a balanced meal plan and personalized support — contact Jenny Craig today to get started.
Stephanie Eng-Aponte is a copywriter for Jenny Craig and has written for the health and wellness, tech, and environmental industries. Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies. They employ an “eat first, write later” approach to food blogging and enjoy the occasional Oxford comma. Outside of writing, you can find them photographing a muttley crew of rescue pups, brewing kombucha, or exploring San Diego.
Favorite healthy snack: green apple slices with sunflower butter
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including a scientific, peer-reviewed paper. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.
Edited by Stephanie E - Jenny Craig