Drinking enough water each day provides many benefits for overall health and wellbeing. One unexpected advantage of staying hydrated is that it can also support your weight loss goals. Water is calorie-free and helps reduce overall calorie intake when substituted for high-calorie beverages. Read on to learn the science behind how increasing your daily water consumption aids weight loss through appetite suppression, increased calorie burning, reduced liquid calories, and more.
When trying to lose weight, people often focus on eating less and moving more. However, don't underestimate the power of drinking more water. Staying hydrated with water has a surprising impact on the number of calories your body takes in and burns each day.
How Much Water Should You Drink for Weight Loss?
Before diving into the specific ways water supports weight loss, let's discuss how much to drink daily. The amount of water you need varies based on your body weight, activity level, and climate. As a general guideline, aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces each day.
For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, strive for around 75 ounces of water daily, which equals about 9 cups. If you exercise regularly or live in a hot climate, your water needs likely increase. The more active you are, the more fluid you lose through sweat.
Consult with your doctor if you want a more customized recommendation. They may suggest drinking more or less water based on your individual health status. Don't force yourself to guzzle excessive amounts of water that exceed your thirst level. Staying properly hydrated provides the most benefits.
Now that you know how much to drink, here are the top ways water supports your weight loss efforts.
1. Appetite Suppression
Drinking water before meals and snacks helps you feel fuller. This leads you to eat less food during the meal.
Research shows that drinking water before a meal leads to an average reduction in intake of 75–90 calories. Over time, cutting just 75 calories per meal can really add up in terms of pounds lost. Drinking water before breakfast may suppress your appetite the most.
Aim to drink one or two glasses of water 30 minutes before each meal. Be sure to give your stomach enough time to register the feeling of fullness before digging in to eat. Starting each meal already partially hydrated reduces your overall calorie intake.
2. Increased Calorie Burning
Drinking adequate water may give your metabolism a slight boost. This results in your body burning more calories throughout the day, even when at rest.
Studies show that drinking 500 ml of water (about 17 ounces) temporarily increases metabolic rate by 24–30%. The maximum metabolic boost occurs around 30–40 minutes after drinking. Your body burns slightly more calories digesting the water and circulating the additional fluid through your system.
While each single metabolic increase from drinking water is small, the calories burned add up over time. Even drinking just one or two extra glasses of water per day can lead to significant calorie expenditure over months.
3. Reduced Liquid Calorie Intake
Sugary drinks like soda, juice, sports drinks, sweetened coffee, and alcohol provide empty liquid calories. The average American gets around 400 calories per day just from beverages. Simply substituting water for these high-calorie drinks significantly reduces your calorie intake.
For example, drinking a 12-ounce can of cola contains 140 calories. Replacing that with a 12-ounce glass of water eliminates 140 calories. Drinking primarily water removes hundreds of excess calories per day that provide zero nutritional value. Cutting out liquid calories prevents weight gain and promotes loss.
4. Improved Digestion
Drinking enough water keeps your digestive system functioning properly. Constipation and bloating cause discomfort and make your stomach appear larger. Staying hydrated helps food and waste pass smoothly through your digestive tract. This prevents the sluggish digestion that contributes to excess pounds.
Some research indicates that drinking ice cold water burns extra calories because your body must work to heat the water to body temperature. While the extra calorie burn is small, it adds up over time. Drinking water before meals may be especially beneficial for digestion.
5. Better Exercise Performance
Exercising is a key component of weight loss. Drinking water before, during, and after your workouts allows you to exercise more efficiently. Even mild dehydration negatively impacts physical performance.
Drinking water before exercise helps increase your endurance. Consuming water during your workout prevents overheating and muscle cramping so you can exercise longer. Proper hydration after exercise reduces soreness so you recover faster.
When you can exercise harder and for longer durations, you burn more calories and lose more weight. Drinking enough water enhances your workouts so you gain the most from your gym time.
Additional Health Benefits of Drinking Water
While drinking more water definitely supports weight loss, it provides many other health perks too. Here are some of the top ways staying hydrated keeps your body functioning properly:
- Lubricates joints and prevents pain
- Improves digestion
- Keeps skin looking healthy
- Delivers oxygen and nutrients throughout the body
- Regulates body temperature
- Protects tissues and organs
- Prevents headaches
- Maintains electrolyte balance
Given all these advantages, it’s clear that drinking enough water should be a top priority for your health. Replacing just one high-calorie beverage per day with water makes a big difference. Developing the habit of drinking water before each meal suppresses your appetite for less calorie intake.
Tips for Drinking More Water
If you don’t drink much water currently, aiming for half your body weight in ounces daily may seem daunting. Start slowly by adding just 1-2 more glasses per day. You can steadily work your way up to the recommended intake. Here are some tips to help you drink more water:
- Carry a refillable water bottle with you throughout the day for easy sipping.
- Set a daily alarm on your phone to remind you to drink water at intervals.
- Drink a glass of water before each meal and snack.
- Choose water with lemon or lime wedges to add flavor without calories.
- Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings.
- Keep a pitcher of water in your fridge infused with fruits and herbs.
- Set a goal to finish a certain number of bottles or glasses per day.
- Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
- Sip water when you feel hungry between meals to help curb appetite.
- Infuse your water with fruits and herbs to add flavor. Try combinations like lemon and mint or pineapple and cinnamon.
- Freeze some bottles of water to keep in your freezer. Grab one when you want an ice cold drink.
- Drink a glass of warm water with lemon first thing in the morning to stimulate digestion.
- Set phone reminders to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Drink a glass of water before each meal to control portions.
- Choose restaurants based on their water quality and menu options. Staying hydrated makes dining out easier.
- Order water with meals when eating out instead of high-calorie drinks.
- Drink water on long plane flights to stay hydrated in the dry cabin air.
- Sip water slowly rather than gulping it down at once so you absorb more.
- Install a water filter to improve the taste and quality of your tap water.
- Infuse a pitcher of water in your fridge with sliced cucumbers or strawberries for a refreshing treat.
- Freeze grapes or raspberries and add them to your water for a fun way to increase intake.
- Set a goal to drink a certain number of glasses or bottles of water per day.
Overcoming Challenges to Drinking More Water
Changing habits can be difficult, so be prepared to encounter some challenges as you work to drink more water daily. Here are some common obstacles and how to overcome them:
Problem: You don't like the taste of plain water.
Solution: Add lemon, lime, cucumber or mint to add natural flavor without calories. You can also drink unsweetened sparkling water for a more interesting flavor profile.
Problem: You forget to drink water during the day.
Solution: Set hourly reminders on your phone or smartwatch to nudge you to take a sip. Carry a water bottle with you to make drinking water convenient.
Problem: You drink water, but find yourself still feeling hungry.
Solution: Be sure to wait at least 30 minutes after drinking water before considering food. It takes time for your brain to register feelings of fullness. Distract yourself with activity.
Problem: You don't like being interrupted throughout the day to use the restroom.
Solution: Drink most of your water earlier in the day. Limit intake 1-2 hours before bedtime. Go to the restroom on a schedule rather than waiting until the urge strikes.
Problem: You get bored of drinking water all day long.
Solution: Alternate between regular water and flavored sparkling water. Consume water-rich foods like fruits and veggies which add flavor.
Problem: You don't know how much water you are drinking daily.
Solution: Purchase a special water bottle that tracks ounces consumed or keep a daily log. Apps can provide drink reminders and record intake.
Problem: You dislike the taste of your local tap water.
Solution: Filter your water or purchase bottled water to improve the taste. Customize your water with fruit infusions. Cool in the fridge or add ice.
Be patient with yourself while forming a water drinking habit. Experiment to find the flavors and routines that work for your lifestyle. The health perks are well worth the temporary effort to increase your daily fluid intake.
Healthy Water Alternatives
While water is best for pure hydration, you can switch things up occasionally with these healthy alternatives:
- Unsweetened tea, hot or iced
- Decaffeinated coffee
- Low-sodium vegetable or bone broth
- Skim milk
- Sparkling water with a squeeze of citrus
- Coconut water
- Fresh juiced vegetables and fruits
Limit juice to a small glass, since it lacks fiber and contains natural sugars. Avoid sweetened coffees, teas, and alcoholic drinks which pack excess calories.
Water helps you feel satiated on fewer calories, energizes your workouts, and keeps your body functioning optimally. Drinking enough water each day powers your weight loss success. Developing the habit just takes some practice. Soon you will crave cool, refreshing water and wonder how you ever functioned in a dehydrated state.