Fact or Fiction: Drink Water to Lose Weight?
When I was a kid, maybe 10 years old, I remember my best friend’s mom drinking a lot of water. She carried a plastic cup around the house with her and was constantly guzzling water through a straw. I didn’t understand why she was so thirsty all the time. My mom explained that this woman was on a special diet to help her lose weight. She had to drink 5 litres of water every day, and if she did then she would get skinny.
Sounded simple to me. But would that actually work? Does drinking water really help people lose weight?
You Can Drink Water to Lose Weight: Fact or Fiction?
The human body is made up of 60-70% water. That’s more than half of you! The fluids in your body aid in essential bodily processes such as digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. But, recent research shows that up to 75% of us are chronically dehydrated! People simply don’t consume enough water to be healthy, let alone to effectively lose weight.
While we all generally know that water is an essential component to proper body function, what is sometimes less clear is is how it might support weight loss. Below, we look at some of the ways water plays a role in managing weight, and answer the question: Can you really drink water to lose weight?
The Role of Water in Managing Your Weight
So, you may be wondering exactly what role might water play in managing your weight? As always, it helps to look to scientific research for answers. A recent study has found that over a span of 3 months, obese dieters who drank two cups of water before each meal lost, on average, five pounds more than dieters who did not. The water-drinkers also kept more of the weight off a year later. According to Barry Popkin, Director of the Interdisciplinary Obesity Program at the University of North Carolina:
Water consumption might spark the body to produce more heat, boosting metabolism and burning more calories. Or, drinking more water might simply make people less likely to drink a lot of high-calorie sugar-filled beverages
It is not yet known whether water works by filling you up, boosting your metabolism, or simply by taking the place of sugar-laden drinks such as soda and juice. Regardless of the reason, simply drinking water may be the key to helping you manage cravings, reduce hunger, and ultimately losing unwanted weight.
HFCS: The Problem with Other Beverages
Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice when you’re trying to lose weight is to replace drinking pop, fruit juice, sports drinks, and other sugar-laden beverages with water. These products, along with processed and pre-packaged foods, contain HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) or, as you may know it, fructose/glucose.
Fructose has a pervasive negative influence on your health. When too much fructose enters the liver, the liver can’t process it all fast enough for the body to use as sugar. Instead, it starts making fats from the fructose and sending them off into the bloodstream as triglycerides. This is bad because it increases the risk of heart disease, suppresses hormones that signal “fullness”, perpetuating hunger and cravings, and increases risk of type 2 diabetes.
When too much fructose enters the liver, the liver can’t process it all fast enough for the body to use as sugar. Instead, it starts making fats from the fructose and sending them off into the bloodstream
Along with other health risks, regular consumption of fructose is sure to make you fat. According to Professor Bart Hoebel of Princeton University, the results of a recent study show that rats drinking fructose at levels well below those in soda “[became] obese – every single one, across the board.” He adds that even when rats were fed a high-fat diet, they did not all gain the same amount extra weight.
Fructose not only makes you gain weight faster than other ingredients, but it also aids in the production of adipose fat, a particularly harmful kind of body fat. Adipose fat collects in your abdominal regions and is linked to heart disease risk. This, alone, is reason enough to avoid soda an other sugary drinks all together.
Stick to Drinking Water
The health risks listed above only highlight how important it is for pure, clean drinking water to be your beverage of choice, especially if you are trying to lose weight. It’s not that water has some sort of magical weight-loss property that melts away fat, but it does help us reduce our calorie intake, it helps us stay hydrated, and it allows our body to function optimally.
So how much water should you drink every day? Watch this video and then read below for some great guidelines:
Drink When You Are Thirsty
At the very minimum, you should drink water whenever you feel thirsty. This is your body’s natural way of tell you it is dehydrated, and what better liquid to re-hydrate with than water.
Carry A Water Bottle
Generally, you don’t want to wait until you are really thirsty to drink water. Usually by the time you feel thirsty you are dehydrated, so try to keep a water bottle or cup with you that you can sip during the day. As I pointed out in the video, it’s pretty important to know how much you’re actually consuming throughout the day. So, if possible, refill your bottle from a jug or water pitcher so that you can easily keep track and not resort to guesswork.
Check Your Urine
There is another simple trick: your urine will be a light yellow color if you are drinking enough water. Dark yellow urine is a sign of being dehydrated.
Drink More Water in Hot Weather, or When Exercising
Of course, you will need to consume more water than normal if it’s hot outside and you are exercising or are engaged in a vigorous physical activity. A general rule of thumb for water consumption during exercise: Drink 250ml for every 20 minutes of exercise you perform. Also keep in mind that your thirst mechanisms work less efficiently as you age, so adults should be sure to drink water regularly even if there isn’t an overwhelming sense of thirst.
Check Your Water Supplier
You may also want to consider your water supplier and what contaminants might be present. Some municipal water supplies may contain contaminants, including heavy metals, fluoride, pharmaceutical drugs, and fuel. In this case, you may want to invest in a whole house water filter.
Water is Essential to Your Health!
In general, most people are in a state of constant dehydration because they are not getting enough water. Drinking water can most certainly help with weight loss, and also prove beneficial to your health in many other ways. If you’re just starting on your weight loss journey, increasing your water consumption is always a great first step.