According to a global study by Ipsos, almost half of the world’s population is currently trying to lose weight. There are different reasons why people embark on this journey, from reducing the risk of developing certain diseases to improving their body image to simply embracing a healthier lifestyle.
Experts usually recommend a combination of physical activity and diet changes for those who seriously want to achieve their weight loss objectives. This usually involves a significant reduction in the amount of fatty red meat, white bread, sodas, and sweets we eat and an increase in the consumption of lighter and healthier food, such as leafy greens, fruit, and nuts.
Yet, strangely enough, the importance of water in weight loss is overlooked by many. You can avoid making the same mistake by checking the following five reasons why drinking more water is a crucial part of any weight loss plan.
Photo by Nigel Msipa on Unsplash
#1 Suppressing Your Appetite
Did you know that filling up your stomach is an effective way to “tell” your brain to stop eating?
A two-month study conducted in 2014 on fifty overweight women analyzed the effects of drinking 500 milliliters (roughly 16.9 fluid ounces) of water half an hour before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The overall daily water intake was higher than what the participants were drinking before the study began. After eight weeks, researchers found that the average appetite score, body weight, body mass index, and skinfold thickness were all lower than before the study began.
Drinking water regularly can also deter you from eating unnecessary snacks between your meals. It’s no secret that things like cookies, chips, sodas, and afternoon sandwiches are some of your biggest enemies when trying to lose weight. When you feel like reaching for that candy bar, have a full glass of water instead. You may think you’re hungry when, in reality, you’re just a bit thirsty.
#2 Burning More Calories
Drinking water is also a great way to burn more calories. Research conducted on adult participants highlighted that a higher water intake leads to more calories being burned through resting energy. This term refers to the rate at which you expend calories when you are not moving or exercising. A similar study focused on overweight children. The result was a 25% increase in resting energy expenditure after drinking water.
Many think drinking cold water is an even more effective way of burning calories than having a glass of warm water. While this is technically true, experts have noted that ice water intake only causes a loss of around eight calories compared to room-temperature water intake.
#3 Decreasing the Intake of Liquid Calories
One straightforward reason why water is the best possible beverage you can drink when trying to lose weight is that it has zero calories itself. Let’s compare this value to the number of calories included in 8 fluid ounces (roughly one cup or 236.5 milliliters) of various popular beverages.
- Coffee: 2 calories
- Tea: 2 calories
- Cappuccino: 74 calories
- Soda: 91 calories
- Lemonade: 99 calories
- 1% low-fat Milk: 102 calories
- Beer: 103 calories
- Energy drink: 108 calories
- Orange juice: 112 calories
- Whole milk: 146 calories
- Red wine: 200 calories
- Margarita: 541 calories.
It’s immediately obvious why substituting any of these beverages with water will cause a lower liquid calorie intake. Of course, this doesn’t mean giving up your morning orange juice glass in the morning or your occasional weekend beer but rather reducing their regular consumption while increasing the number of glasses of water you drink every day.
#4 Boosting Your Metabolism
As highlighted by the study mentioned above, increasing the daily water consumption in 50 overweight women didn’t only bring about a loss in appetite but also a reduction in both body mass and body composition scores.
The main reason for this is that an increased water intake causes an increase in heat production (aka thermogenesis) in our bodies. In short, our bodies need to use energy to warm liquids and align them to our body temperature. The more energy our body uses, the faster our metabolism, that is, the process behind converting food and liquids into energy.
A 2003 study on water-induced thermogenesis conducted on fourteen adults proved indeed that drinking two cups of chilly water caused a 30% increase in metabolic rates.
#5 It Makes Physical Exercise More Effective
As mentioned earlier, weight loss is usually achieved through a combination of dietary changes and physical activity. Drinking water is crucial during exercise as it helps us stay hydrated, thus improving both our endurance and concentration when running, cycling, swimming, or lifting weights. Needless to say, the better we perform physical exercises, the higher their impact on our weight loss results. According to the ACE (American Council on Exercise), our water consumption should be:
- 17 to 20 fluid ounces of water around 150 minutes before exercising
- 8 fluid ounces of water around 25 minutes before exercising
- 7 to 10 fluid ounces every 20 minutes while exercising
- 8 fluid ounces of water half an hour after exercising
- 16 to 24 fluid ounces of water for every pound lost after exercise.