Just about everyone who is on a diet of any sort spends some time researching different ways of speeding up the weight loss process. One of the most common questions is “Does drinking water help you lose weight?”
If by drinking water you are replacing a fizzy (sugar laden) drinks habit, you are going to see a significant effect on your weight loss.
With water making up about 60% of your body, every cell is dependent upon getting the right amount of fluids in order to function properly, and being correctly hydrated is vitally important.
Until fairly recently water was the main drink for everyone. However, this has been gradually reduced as people turn to milky coffees or Fizzy drinks.
Fizzy drinks contain a massive amount of sugar and it’s now common knowledge that the average fizzy drink has a lot of sugar.
They are bad for your health and can completely stall your weight loss efforts.
Some drinks such as Ginger Beer were found to have an amazing 13 teaspoons of sugar in each 330ml serving. Coke and Pepsi both have 9 teaspoons per 330ml.
If you’re on the keto diet that’s 52g of carbs in a Ginger Beer and 36g carbs in a Coke or Pepsi.
Nearly two days allowance of carbs in one can of fizzy drink!
So it’s easy to see why these sorts of drinks will ruin your keto diet, or any other diet you may be on.
With those levels of sugar, it can’t be healthy to consume these drinks even if weight loss is not one of your goals.
Coffee and tea are both carb free, and will not harm your weight loss as long as you don’t add Milk or sugar.
So, water is definitely a much better than any drink which contains carbs.
If water is the only drink you consume, how much should you drink each day and does water in itself actually help weight loss?
How much water should you drink?
There are no hard and fast rules about the amount of water you should drink each day.
The amount of water varies depending on the climate where you live and how active you are, but as a general rule you should aim to drink about 2.7 liters for a woman or 3.7 liters for a man.
You will need more if its hot, or you are exercising.
Some people manage on less, but the commonly held belief about drinking 8 glasses of water a day is more or less right.
There is some fluid in the foods you eat, especially in vegetables and fruit.
If you are drinking enough water your urine should be clear and colorless. Very dark, or deep yellow urine is a sign that you need to drink more.
So, does drinking water actually help with weight loss?
There is plenty of evidence that drinking water does help with weight loss.
This study of middle-aged men and women demonstrated a weight loss that was ~2 kg greater in the water group than in the non water group. The only difference was that the water group were given an extra 500ml water with each meal.
This study showed that there was an increased amount of weight loss in overweight dieting women aged 25 – 50, independent of any other changes to diet or exercise.
These findings have been replicated by many other studies too (1).
There is overwhelming scientific proof that by increasing your water intake by about 500ml each day you can increase your weight loss, reduce your BMI and show a slight increase in your metabolic rate.
However, it’s important to note that drinking too much water can be a risk for your health. Excess water can cause Hyponatremia, which can be a life-threatening condition.
Although it’s rare, it’s worth making sure that you are not continually drinking, but are actually thirsty when you do drink.
What happens when you drink the right amount of water
When you are drinking the right amount of water your urine will be a pale yellow colour and having no color at all could be a sign that you’re drinking too much.
Needing the bathroom more than 10 times a day may also be a sign that you’re overdoing things at the water tap.
Headaches can be a sign of too little or too much water. Headaches are a common side effect when beginning the keto diet due to its ability to release fat cells and hence the water they contain too.
When you’re drinking the right amount of water you will notice a decrease in your appetite especially if you take a drink immediately before a meal.
This is going to help you lose weight although the effect is quite small.
Sparkling water may help food remain longer in your stomach, which can trigger a greater sensation of fullness.
This study found that drinking sparkling water had a profound effect on the intragastric distribution of the meal.
Drinking both before and during a meal has been shown to decrease the amount of food eaten by as much as 250 calories.
Being properly hydrated helps to lift your mood and increase your focus on day to day tasks. This is due to the fact that the brain is dependent on receiving the correct amount of fluids to function correctly.
Another fact is that it is quite common for people to misinterpret thirst as hunger, and so being dehydrated can lead to unnecessary snacking.
It’s worth having a drink when “hunger” strikes, and see if the feeling goes away.
Other health benefits include the proper functioning of your digestive system. A lack of fluids can lead to constipation.
Being well hydrated will keep your digestive system in good working order.
Adequate amounts of water also help to detox your body as the fluids support kidney function.
Water will help you to clear your body of anything not so healthy that you may have consumed, for example – too much alcohol the night before.
Being hydrated reduces the risk of problems that can get in the way of being able to complete a good workout, such as muscle cramps.
Always drink water before, during, and after exercise to avoid dehydration, especially if you’re exercising in a hot climate.
One place where a lack of water very quickly becomes apparent is your skin. A dehydrated skin will appear dull and less elastic.
Try pinching a small amount of skin on the back of your hand. Hold the skin for three seconds and release.
Check how quickly your skins returns to its normal shape. Well hydrated skin will snap back into position within a second or two.
If your skin stays in a peak it’s a sign that you could be dehydrated.
By keeping well hydrated you also minimize the chances of having bad breath due to the fact that bad breath is often caused by your mouth being too dry.
The take home message
There is a lot of evidence, and the findings from the latest research show a very positive relationship between drinking water and weight loss.
Increasing the amount you drink will increase you metabolic rate.
Even a small amount of dyhdration has been shown to slow down weight loss.
This is due to the fact that fat cells contain a lot of water, and if the body is seeking to preserve water it will hold onto the fat cells to reduce fluid loss.
As well as weight loss there are many health benefits to making sure that you’re taking in the right amount of water every day.
Every cell in our bodies require correct hydration and yet this is often overlooked.
If you’re getting thirsty often, and your bathroom visits have reduced make sure that you increase your intake.
There is no need to get your total daily water from plain water alone. You will get some from your food, and fruits such as watermelon are almost 100% water.
You can also drink black coffee, tea or herbal tea.
I don’t recommend that you use drinks that contain artificial sweeteners as there is evidence that these are not good for your health and should be avoided.
Water is your friend, and if you increase your daily consumption by about 500ml you will be helping your weight loss diet as well as gaining some extra health benefits.
It’s also free and easy to store, just remember to drink about 8 glasses a day. Check that your urine is pale yellow and that you are not overdoing it by drinking too much.
The weight loss benefits appear from the studies to be small, but the effects add up over the months, so should not be dismissed.
Again, remember that too much water is as bad for you as too little. Take note of the signs here to make sure that you are in the sweet spot when it comes to your hydration.
Finally, if plain water seems a little boring to you, you can always zest things up a bit by adding a touch of mint or a wedge of an orange or lemon.
Sparkling water can be more interesting too, and the bubbles definitely help you to feel full for longer after a meal.