How often have you wished for a magic potion that would help you lose weight – something safe, with no side-effects, and of course, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? It turns out this secret weapon may have been under our noses the whole time, and we may just need to have more of it. Simply stated, to see results, we may just need to drink more water.
According to a new study review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers from the Berlin School of Public Health, Charité University Medical Center Berlin in Germany, drinking more water may be the key to greater weight loss.
Researchers pored over existing studies to determine if this popular myth held up. They analyzed eleven different studies and two systematic reviews investigating the association between water consumption and weight loss. In three studies where participants were in a program for weight loss or maintenance, increased water consumption showed the potential to reduce body weight.
“Drinking more water may be the key to greater weight loss.”
One study found that among participants, adult members of a group who drank two cups of water before a meal lost about 4 lbs. more than a group that did not consume the extra water.
Another study revealed that women who increased water consumption while dieting, drinking at least one liter of water daily (about half the oft-cited recommendation of eight 8 oz. glasses per day), lost more weight than those who kept water consumption below a liter a day.
Lead researcher Rebecca Muckelbauer cited two possible reasons for the link between water and weight loss. The first and most likely reason was that the increased water consumption contributed to a feeling of fullness, which then may have led to a decrease in caloric intake. Another theory was that of “water-induced thermogenesis,” a process where drinking water makes your body expend more energy and, therefore, burn more calories overall.
Still, the results of the review show that more research needs to be done to find a conclusive link between water and weight loss.
One seemingly contradictory study actually showed that obese and overweight adults consumed more water than their normal-weight counterparts. However, researchers note that the higher water consumption could be explained by an increased requirement of total water intake due to diet, as overweight and obese individuals’ diets are often found to be higher in salt, protein, and fat, thus requiring more water for proper kidney function.
Current guidelines by the Institute of Medicine recommend that an adequate intake (AI) of fluid for men is about 3 liters or 13 cups per day; AI for women is about 2.2 liters or 9 cups of fluid per day. However, the average American does not reach this amount and adds about 400-500 calories per day from non-water beverages.
Substituting these caloric beverages for water would help improve health and possibly aid in weight loss by cutting these excess, non-nutritional calories, say study authors. In addition, they note, “These suggested dietary and physiologic mechanisms of increased water consumption for a beneficial effect may also apply to other noncaloric beverages, such as tea or coffee.”
The Bottom Line
Based on the review, more research is needed to determine whether increased water consumption aids in weight loss. The silver lining is that while there are no guarantees, drinking more water will almost certainly have a beneficial effect on your overall health.
Most of us could probably increase our intake of water. In fact, a recent study showed that a lack of fluids is a contributor to constipation, a digestive complaint affecting millions of Americans. If nothing else, replacing sugary beverages with plain water would be a much better alternative for kids, teens and adults.
For those who don’t like water, the question is how to make it more palatable. You can spruce up your water by adding a slice of lemon, lime, or orange. Mint and cucumber also make water refreshing. If you absolutely dislike plain water, mix a half glass of lemonade with water to cut down on calories and sugar. And coconut water is yet another alternative that is low in calories and an excellent source of potassium; it may, however, take a bite out of your wallet.
For those concerned with weight loss, the Master Cleanse, which combines water with lemon and cayenne, might also be a solution. You can easily make your own by mixing the following ingredients:
2 Tbsp organic grade B maple syrup
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/10 tsp cayenne pepper
10 oz purified warm or room temperature water
Aimed at those who don’t want to deal with the hassle of making their own Master Cleanse, companies like BluePrint Cleanse (available in the U.S. and Canada), Nekter Juice Bar, and Kreation offer pre-bottled waters based on the Master Cleanse but with ingredients like agave instead of lemon juice. Just be prepared to spend big bucks, as these cleansing/detox waters are around $7.00 to $9.00 per 16-ounce bottle.
No matter how you look at it, it’s clear that drinking plenty of water is good for you. After all, water helps flush out toxins, helps cell function and metabolism, and supports every system in your body. Your body is up to 60% water, so keeping it well-hydrated is important especially in the hot summer months. Bottoms up!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.