You might commonly hear people suggest that you should drink more water if you’re trying to lose weight. But what is it about water that supports fat loss? Is it special in some way? Or are there some types of water that are better than others? And lastly, exactly how much water should you be drinking each day?
Keep reading to learn more about what the science says about water and weight loss, and how to include more of it into your weight loss meal plan.
Five Ways Drinking Water Supports Weight Loss
While the actual act of drinking water itself doesn't necessarily help you drop pounds, drinking enough water can support weight loss a few different ways.
1) Water is Low Calorie
Water is calorie free and drinking more water instead of sugar sweetened beverages helps you eliminate empty calories from your diet.
If you're having trouble shedding pounds, take a look at your fluid intake and make sure you are accounting for any additional calories your adding to your day. Many beverages can be high in added sugar and low in nutrition, which adds empty calories and could throw off your macros balance. In addition, liquid calories tend to not activate your fullness cues the same way solid food does, and you may still feel hungry afterwards (1,2). Even further, sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices in specific are associated with an increased risk of weight gain (3).
Are you a soda drinker? Eliminating 1 bottle of sugar sweetened beverages a day can lead to over 25 pounds of weight loss in a year!
2) Promotes Hydration
Your body depends on water to survive and function properly. Being even mildly dehydrated can negatively impact brain function, mood, heart health, and your energy levels (4). And while you can get water from food and other beverages, there is no better source than water itself.
Dehydration can mess directly with your weight loss efforts when it causes food cravings. Hunger can be a sign of early dehydration, since your body is using up glycogen stores more quickly, and drinking water could help calm your appetite if this is the case (5).
3) Supports Metabolism
Water also plays multiple roles in the body including supporting digestion, nutrient absorption, and your ability to burn fat for energy (6). In fact, without water, your body cannot properly metabolize fat and carbohydrates. Some studies even suggest that drinking water could cause an increase in calorie output, supporting greater weight loss (7,8).
4) Calms Your Appetite
Water can help fill your stomach and may also help you feel more satisfied. Research suggests that drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal may help you eat less calories overall (9,10). In one study those who drank 2 cups (~16 ounces) of water before eating, lost 44% more weight in three months, compared to those who didn’t drink any water (11).
5) Supports Your Workouts
Staying properly hydrated is also crucial for for your fitness. Staying hydrated for your workouts can help reduce fatigue, increase endurance, lower your maximum heart rate, and help you to be less sore after exercise, helping you get more out of your gym session (12,13,14).
How Much Water Should I drink to Lose Weight
The actual amount of water you need each day can be highly dependent on the person. Your fitness level, overall diet, environment, and health conditions can all effect how much water is best. Most people get roughly 20% of their hydration needs from foods and the rest comes from liquids, including water intake. As a general rule of thumb, to support hydration needs and support your weight loss efforts focus on the following:
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning after waking.
- Drink one to two glasses of water before each meal to help fill your stomach and curb your appetite.
- Drink a cup of water 20 to 30 minutes before you workout and a cup for each additional 10 to 20 minutes of exercise, depending on the intensity level.
- Drink water throughout the day when you feel thirsty.
Does the Type of Water Matter?
All types of water can support hydration, but are certain types more beneficial than others when it comes to weight loss? Here's a quick breakdown of common types of water, where they come from, and whether or not that provide a certain advantage fro fat loss.
Plain old tap water is the stuff that comes right out of the faucet. As long as you live in an area with safe drinking water, tap water is an affordable and easy solution to supporting your intake.
If you don't enjoy the taste of tap water, you can easily filter the water at home with a faucet filtration system or pitcher. This remove some common additives like chlorine that can give the water a different taste, although it is perfectly safe to drink.
Bottled Mineral Water
Bottle water is pre-packaged water that did not go through a municipal water treatment plant. It can be sourced from surface water or underground aquifers. And to be classified as mineral water, it must contain a certain amount of mineral levels from the waters source environment.
There is no clear advantage of bottle water over tap water when it comes to weight loss or health benefits. Not to mention that bottle water creates plastic waste, which can impact the environment negatively.
Cold vs. Room Temperature Water
There is a small amount of research that suggests the temperature of your water may offer thermogenic effects, promoting a small uptick in calorie burn, specifically from cold water (7,8). However, the science gives us mixed results on this topic, and the potential swing in metabolism is fairly minor and not strong enough to outweigh the need for calorie control overall.
Alkaline water is water with a more basic pH level - with a pH around 8 or 9, compared to tap water that has a pH closer to 7. Alkaline salts or metals are commonly added to the water to increase the pH, or the water is derived from natural sources. There are a lot of claims surrounding alkaline water and potential health benefits, but the research is just not that clear cut (15). In addition, your body does a fantastic job of tightly regulating your blood’s pH levels on its own, and it is unlikely that the type of water you drink would alter this process significantly.
Fruit Flavored Water
Infused water is growing in popularity among those who don;t enjoy drinking water in the first place, or for those looking for a healthier alternative to sugar sweetened beverages. Outside of the obvious benefits of getting these individuals to drink more water, there isn't any additional benefits to fruit flavored waters that we know if.
Carbonated water and flavored carbonated water are nothing more than water with gas added to it, and can also be a source of hydration. Most carbonated water is calorie-free and can be a great substitution for soda drinkers.
The type of water you drink likely doesn't matter when it comes to weight loss or your health. Opt for whatever water you enjoy drinking most, whether it is cold, carbonated, flavored, or just plain tap water. As long as you staying hydrated and including some water as part of your weight loss diet, you’re going to get the full benefits.
Tracking Your Intake
A great way to stay on top of your water intake is to track it. The Trifecta app allows you to input exactly how much water you’re getting each day so you can see how well you’re doing. You can also see whether or not drinking more water some days helps you control your calories better.