Water for weight loss? Does it actually help? Many studies have shown that in fact drinking more water is beneficial for weight loss. It also helps that hydration is key for many functions in the body that play a role in weight loss.
The human body is made up of 60-70% water. Your body uses water in all its cells, organs and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. However, research shows that up to 75% of American's are chronically dehydrated! And I wouldn't mind betting this percentage is similar in many other countries. Sadly people simply don't consume enough water to be considered healthy, let alone to help with weight loss.
As you can see from the graph above water is an essential component of proper body function. However, what may be less clear to you is how it supports weight loss. So let's look at why drinking water may help you lose weight.
7 Reasons Why Drinking Water Can Help You Lose Weight
Water is a natural appetite suppressant
Many people don't realise this but our stomach only sends signals to the brain to stop eating when it reached a certain volume. Which is why we don't feel full after 1 tbsp of oil but we do after eating a large apple, even though they have similar calories.
By drinking more water you are taking up more space in the stomach, making you feel fuller and reducing hunger.
Our brains can also get confused between hunger and thirst cues. Meaning over we reach for something to eat when we were actually just thirsty.
In a study from 2014, 50 overweight women were instructed to drink 500ml of water three times a day 30 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was done in addition to their regular water consumption for 8 weeks.
The result? The women experienced a loss in body weight, body fat and BMI (body mass index). They also reported a lower appetite score, meaning it looks like it did help suppress their appetite.
Water can increase calorie burning
Would you drink more water if it could burn more calories?
A 2014 study shows that this is a possible outcome when drinking cold or room temperature water. The 12 people in this study burned between 2-3% more calories than usual in the 90 minute period after drinking the water.
Sadly no, it's not magic. instead what happens is drinking water (cold or room temperature) appears to stimulate heat production in the body. This is because the body needs to warm the fluid to body temperature before it can be digested.
Another small study back in 2003, shows very similar results.
Drinking water can reduce overall liquid calories intake
Drinking soda, juice, energy drinks, alcohol or sweetened coffee or tea can add a lot of calories into your daily diet. These calories are also known as liquid calories because you guessed it the calories come from liquid!
By replacing these high calories drinks with water (which has no calories), could help you consume fewer calories in a day. However, this only works if you don't swap these liquid calories for something else. For example, instead of getting your normal caramel latte, you instead buy water but also get a muffin.
Start by swapping just one or two of these liquid calorie drinks with water and then work your way up.
What about diet drinks? Whilst yes they are better than drinking the "normal" version, a study from 2015 showed even replacing these with water can increase weight loss.
In the study female participants drank 250ml of water after lunch each day, whilst also attending a 24-week weight loss program. They lost 13.6% more weight than women in the same program who drank 250ml of diet drinks after lunch.
Water helps to remove waste from your body
Wate is removed from our bodies through our urine and feces. However, when our body is dehydrated this process does not run smoothly.
Remember the graph from the top of the post? It showed that the kidneys are made up of 82% water, without water, the kidneys can't filter toxins and waste whilst retaining the essential nutrients and electrolytes. Instead, the kidneys retain all the fluid.
At the other end of the process, dehydration can result in hard and/or lumpy stools and constipation.
Water also helps you recover from digestive problems like vomiting, diarrhea and indigestion.
But what has this got to do with weight loss? Well when waste builds up in the body, people may feel bloated and swollen. Bloating can add inches to a person's waist. By staying hydrated you can help your body remove that waste and maybe a few kilograms (kg) with it.
Water is necessary to burn fat
To lose weight you want to burn fat, however without water, your body cannot burn stored fats efficiently.
The process of burning fat is called lipolysis and in a mini-review, from 2016 it was found that by increasing your water intake you could increase lipolysis and the loss of fat.
Water helps with exercising and workouts
As you probably know, exercise is an important part of any weight loss plan, and as I mentioned earlier 75% of muscles are water. If your muscles, connective tissues and joints are lacking in that all-important water it will be harder for your body to perform your workout to the best of your ability.
Being dehydrated also increased the likely hood of muscle cramps and fatigue that can get in the way of a good workout.
Make sure to drink water before, during and after exercise to avoid dehydration. My recommendation is for every half-hour of sweat-inducing exercise, you should drink at least one cup of water. If you are exercising in a particularly humid environment you will want to up it to avoid dehydration.
Helps improve motivation and reduce stress
Mindset is so important when it comes to weight loss, which is why it is a big part of my website. If you are dehydrated having a good mindset can be harder. This is because you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. Let's be honest who can make consistent healthy decisions under those conditions.
In a 2006 study, it was also found that dehydration increases your body's production of cortisol, the stress hormone. And it is a known fact that when many people stress out they reach for "comfort food" which usually means junk food.
Before you go off and fill up your bottle of water. It is important to keep in mind that all these effects will most likely not get you to your weight loss goals on your own. Exercise, nutrition and mindset also play big roles.
Other benefits of drinking water
Helps with nutrient absorption
Water forms saliva and mucus
It prevents kidney damage and kidney stones
Increases energy and alertness
Enhances brain function Supports joints
Delivers oxygen throughout the body
Regulates body temperature
How much water should you be drinking?
Now that you know all the benefits of drinking water (and to be honest there is probably more), it's time to work out how much water you should be drinking. Many different factors affect the amount of water you should be drinking each day. For example, pregnant women and nursing mothers would need more fluid to stay hydrated. Other factors also include your lifestyle, exercise, diet, even stress levels.
However, as a general guide, the minimum amount of water you need depends on your body weight. For approximately every 1kg of body weight, you would need 0.033 litres of water.
So here is a simple formula you can use to make sure you are drinking enough water per day.
So if you are 60kg, you should drink around 2 litres of water every day. And if you are up approximately 90, you will need about 3 litres per day. You just need to multiply 0.033 to your weight in kgs.
How much water should you be drinking when trying to lose weight?
If you are barely drinking 1 litre of water a day I would start with just aiming to drink the amount the above formula gives you. This will still increase your metabolism from what it originally was.
However, if you want to up your game even more I would recommend drinking up to 3.8 litres (1 gallon) per day. Also remember it is believed that we burn more calories by drinking cold water.
Being properly hydrated is the best thing you can do for your body.
How do you know if you are dehydrated?
Now that you know how much water you should be drinking per day, are you freaking out that you are dehydrated? Don't worry there are different symptoms you can look for to see if you may be dehydrated.
(Please note that these symptoms are common for numerous other illnesses. If you experience any of them on a regular basis you should mention them to your doctor.)
Whilst I believe most people are simply dehydrated from not drinking enough water. Dehydration can also occur when consuming too much of certain foods and beverages. This happens because some foods and drinks have a diuretic effect. This means they help your body get rid of fluids, which as we now know you don't want. These foods and drinks include soft drink, alcohol, energy drinks, soy sauce and fried foods.
Tips for drinking more water
As you can see above there is an insane amount of benefits to drinking water. However, I also know that telling people to drink more water is easier said than done. So below I want to share some times on how to drink more water every day.
Tip #1 - Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning
I love this tip and have already written a whole blog post on why you should drink water first thing in the morning so go check that out!
Tip #2 - Invest in a fun, reusable water bottle
Having a reusable water bottle that you can take with you where ever you are is one of the key ways I started to drink more water. After all, if your water is in your bag or on your desk you are going to see it more and it is going to automatically remind you to drink more.
Tip #3 - Set reminders on your phone
Create alarms to go off every few hours to remind you to drink more water. To make this tip work even better set each alarm with benefits in the description to motivate you to keep drinking.
Tip #4 - Put a jug of water on your table during meals
Putting some water on the table whilst you eat helps to remind you to drink more whilst eating. If you don't have a jug you could even just put your water bottle on the table to remind you to drink more.
Tip #5 - Add natural flavours
Whilst personally I love to drink plain water, I know other people find it boring. So to add a bit more flavour so you enjoy your drink try adding in lemon, lime, chopped herbs, berries or chunks of other fruits like melon.
You are sure to find different flavour combos you like.
Is there a thing such as drinking too much water?
The short answer is yes, you can drink to much water. However, it is pretty hard to do and very uncommon. Drinking too much water means that the amount of water has changed the sodium levels in the blood in a negative way.
The amount to do that could be around five to six litres in a span of only a few hours. This is most common in athletes however there are some medical conditions that cause people to drink a lot due to loss of thirst receptors.
However, don't let this dissuade you from filling up your drink bottle. If you only sip your water throughout the day (rather than chugging it) it is extremely unlikely you'll ever reach that point.
What you should do now
I have been where you are and I have women all over the world (just like you) transition to eating a plant-based diet. If you are looking for a guide to help you find the healthiest way to eat, check out these blog posts it is a great place to start.
If you are interested in weight loss, download this fantastic FREE Mini Weight Loss Guide and other resources.
If you would like to fast track your weight loss, check out my Weight Loss Starter Kit.
And finally, if you want to join the Where My Footsteps Go Community click here.