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Could a simple measure of drinking a little more water promote weight loss? Well, science says yes, it is possible. So staying hydrated could be one of the effective ways of improving your weight loss efforts.
There are many reasons for weight gain like high-calorie intake, sedentary lifestyle, hormonal changes, stress, electrolyte imbalance, poor hydration, etc. It means that an ideal weight loss program needs to be multi-dimensional.
Of course, no one here suggests that just drinking a liter of extra water a day will help you lose several extra pounds a month. However, science indicates that staying hydrated will increase weight loss achieved in different ways.
How does hydration play a part in weight loss?
When we talk about weight loss through adequate hydration, the immediate question that arises is, how? Well, science shows that there are many ways in which water may aid weight loss.
Cellular volume and increased metabolic rate
Studies show that water truly works. One of the interesting ways in which it may aid weight loss is by expanding the cellular volume. Studies in animals confirm these benefits.1
Studies show that expanded cellular volume means increased basal metabolic rate. It means that a person can burn more calories even when sleeping.
Not only that, but high water intake also appears to influence certain hormones that promote weight loss and detoxification, like increased angiotensin 2 levels1.
Additionally, it appears that adequate water intake has some role in reducing insulin resistance, risk of diabetes, accumulation of visceral fat, and more.
Water can help regulate appetite
One of the ways in water may help regulate appetite is simple to understand. If one drinks a glass or two of water before food, it will help feel full earlier and reduce the ability to consume food. However, that is not all.
Studies in animals show that water can even influence the level of hormones that regulate appetite. Thus, a study found that it can affect leptin and ghrelin levels. It means that dehydrated people are more likely to have a greater appetite. On the other hand, a better hydration level also suppresses appetite by reducing hunger hormone and influencing the brain2.
Water helps burn more calories
This effect may not be significant, but keeping hydrated may increase the number of calories one may burn through physical activity. Thus, drinking more water along with exercise may help lose body weight more efficiently.
There could be many reasons for this, like improved electrolyte balance means greater stamina. It may also mean a higher energy supply to muscles and more efficient calorie burning.
Water helps remove toxins
Water is a universal solvent and the most vital solvent on the planet. It means improved functioning of kidneys, liver, and other organs.
Additionally, higher water intake also means improved gut motility. Therefore, it is essential to understand that gut health plays a vital role in energy metabolism.
Water helps reduce stress
It is a less appreciated way in which water may help reduce body weight. It reduces stress levels and thus helps burn more calories. When a person is anxious, one is more likely to be dehydrated and therefore have poor electrolyte balance and other issues.
How much water should I be drinking?
It is a common question but quite a vague question. Generally, an average adult would need about 1.5 liters of water a day. However, total water requirement depends on many factors like body weight, environmental temperature, stress level, level of physical activity, and more.
Some people sweat more than others, and thus they need to drink water more abundantly. Similarly, those living with chronic ailments have an increased need for water intake. Old adults often feel less thirsty, but they still need to pay particular attention to their hydration level.
Additionally, lots would depend on dietary habits. After all, water is present in all the food items. Thus, those who drink lots of tea, and milk, consume more fruits and vegetables and may need less water.
Although, a simple rule is to drink water whenever you feel thirsty. However, drinking a liter of extra water a day may help ensure adequate hydration.
Some people may not feel very thirsty. Instead, they might develop headaches and bad moods and feel hungry constantly. Thus, if you frequently experience these issues, it is pretty likely that you are simply not drinking enough water.
However, researchers warn not to drink too much water. Drinking a liter or two during the day along with a regular diet is enough to stay hydrated. Additionally, count the number of beverages you have during the day as they mainly contain water.
Does the time of day matter?
In short, no, it does not matter much when you drink water. Nonetheless, drinking water at certain times of day may be slightly better.
For example, in some countries, it is a tradition to drink water in the morning as it promotes gut motility and helps keep the body hydrated for a whole day.
Similarly, older adults should avoid drinking too much water in the evening, especially before bedtime. Again, it is because older adults have a problem with nocturia, and drinking water may make things worse by interrupting nighttime sleep.
Generally, one should drink water about half an hour before food to avoid diluting gastric juices. Similarly, it is good to have water half an hour or later after having a substantial meal.
The positive effects of adequate hydration
As already mentioned, do not expect that something magical will happen by drinking water. It is just one of the ways to improve weight loss. However, staying hydrated would help regulate appetite, normalize metabolism, improve mood, reduce fatigue, and help stay motivated. Most of these benefits might be subtle. Nonetheless, they are felt by most people who start mindfully drinking more water. But, of course, remember not to drink too much water, as that may be counter-productive and do more harm than good.
- Thornton SN. Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss. Front Nutr. 2016;3:18. doi:10.3389/fnut.2016.00018
- Takei Y, Bartolo RC, Fujihara H, Ueta Y, Donald JA. Water deprivation induces appetite and alters metabolic strategy in Notomys alexis: unique mechanisms for water production in the desert. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2012;279(1738):2599-2608. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.2627