You’ve probably asked yourself questions like, How much water should I drink to lose weight or does drinking water help you lose weight? That’s because sometimes it’s hard to figure out whether it does or doesn’t, but we’re going to clear it all up here today.
Beyond the basics of helping us stay alive, water is important for your daily nutrition, and, yes, it may be the key to helping you lose weight. Up next we’re going to answer questions like, How much water should I drink a day to lose weight, and how does drinking water help you lose weight?
Why Is Staying Hydrated Important?
There are many reasons, beyond weight loss, why hydration is important. Staying hydrated promotes a healthy lifestyle and the following are just some of the ways in which it does that.
Improves Energy Levels
A major sign of dehydration is fatigue. If you become even mildly dehydrated, your blood pressure drops and reduces the blood flow to the brain. Low blood flow to the brain can cause you to feel tired.
One study found that staying adequately hydrated by drinking at least 2.5L per day can reduce feelings of fatigue, confusion, and sleepiness compared to drinking less than 1.2L of water daily. You need energy to stick to your nutrition and exercise goals as well as overall life goals so hydration is important.
Aids In Absorption Of Nutrients
For your body to digest your food to get nutrients, the food that you eat needs to be broken down. Water is great for helping break food down into smaller pieces so that it is easier for your small intestine to absorb individual nutrients. Water also helps the activity of enzymes responsible for the absorption of nutrients into the body.
Water helps move solid waste throughout your colon. A lack of water can increase the likelihood of constipation, which can lead to long-term complications if left untreated. In fact,
How Drinking Water Impacts Weight Loss
Water is a zero-calorie beverage that helps you feel full and supports your metabolism, making it a key component to health and weight loss. Read on to see how drinking water can impact your weight loss.
Keeps You Full Longer
Feeling full is influenced by both chemical and physical signals. Water physically helps your stomach expand and sends signals to your brain to stop you from feeling hungry.
One 2018 study found that drinking water before a meal helped people feel full despite them eating fewer calories during the meal.
Reduces Appetite Before Meals
Drinking water before a meal can be an easy way to avoid overeating and reduce your appetite.
A 12-week study with middle-aged and older adults found that drinking 500mL of water before a low-calorie meal helped decrease how much they ate. Compared to a group who only had low-calorie meals, those who drank water also had a 44% greater decrease in weight in 12 weeks.
Improves Your Metabolism
Metabolism can be a fickle beast, affected by a number of factors. A large part of maintaining a good metabolism is keeping hormones in check like insulin and glucagon, which are essential for blood sugar and body fat.
Studies find that staying hydrated can help people's weight loss by not only decreasing appetite but increasing fat burning through hormone balance.
How Much Water Should You Drink To Lose Weight?
As a simple rule of thumb, we at Fitmate recommend that people drink 2L of water per day to help meet their daily hydration needs. Keep in mind, however, your daily needs may differ based upon personal and lifestyle factors.
You may need to drink more water if you live in a hot environment, are of a younger age, exercise, eat a high-protein diet, do not eat many hydrating foods, sweat, or lose fluids in other ways. In fact, if you don’t drink enough water your body will retain water, that water weight will make you feel like you’ve gained weight instead of lost it.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences recommends that men drink 3L of water daily and women should drink 2.2L of water to stay hydrated, with additional water coming from the foods we eat.
Calculate Your Water Intake
There are many formulas and calculators available to help you calculate your water intake needs. Here are some examples of some popular formulas for water needs:
To fine-tune your water intake needs, pay attention to how much you sweat and exercise, how thirsty you feel, and even the color of your urine (hydrated urine is usually light yellow).
How To Hit Your Daily Water Intake Goals
Drinking water seems like an obvious thing to do, but it can be more difficult than people expect. Having strategies in place to help you drink water is key to consistent success.
Having worked with thousands of clients, we at Fitmate find that our clients have easier success with: drinking a couple of glasses with each meal and snack as well as, keeping a water bottle in key locations (e.g., bedroom, kitchen, office) so that it's visible.
Below we list some additional ways to help you hit your daily water intake goals:
Set Daily Reminders
With the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it can be difficult to remember to drink water. Setting alarms, calendar notifications, and even old school sticky-notes can be a great way to remind yourself to drink a glass of water.
Add Flavoring To Your Water
Some people dislike drinking water because it doesn’t have much of a flavor and can feel boring. Add some pizzazz to your water with some lemon or lime juice, fruit slices, cucumber slices, herbs like mint or basil, or electrolyte tablets (when needed).
Get A Reusable Water Bottle
A reusable water bottle makes it convenient to bring water with you wherever you go, without the need to shell out money for bottled water. With your reusable water bottle, you can help yourself stay hydrated and reduce plastic and glass waste.
Use An App To Keep Track
Apps are excellent for keeping track of your intake of water and setting hydration goals. Some apps even gamify drinking water by having you water trees or flowers while you water yourself. Other apps just make it simple for you to keep track of how much water you’re drinking each day like the Daily Water Reminder Tracker.
Eat Water-Rich Vegetables
Hydration doesn’t only have to come from drinking water or other low-calorie beverages. There are foods that are rich in water and naturally hydrating. Many vegetables are not only water-rich, but they have necessary nutrients and are good sources of fiber, another key characteristic for filling foods.
Vegetables with the highest water content include cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, and broccoli. And you don’t need to be on a vegetarian diet to get enough vegetables in your diet, just try to fill your plate with fiber-rich veggies and protein before adding complex carbs.
Drink A Glass Of Water Before Every Meal
Research shows us that drinking water before a meal can help us stay full and eat less. Getting into a habit of drinking a glass of water before a meal can help you meet your hydration goals and weight loss goals.
For the best results, drink your pre-meal glass of water at least 15-30 minutes before you eat to maximize its effectiveness.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
While alcohol is dehydrating, it is possible to include alcohol in your lifestyle while trying to lose weight. Drinking moderate amounts of red wine may even protect against weight gain.
The important thing is to have moderate alcohol intake so that you can still create a calorie deficit for weight loss. If you keep track of your calorie intake, it is still possible to maintain a 500-750 calorie deficit even with an alcoholic beverage that has 150 calories.
A single alcoholic drink is considered to be either a 12-oz beer (5% ABV), 5 oz of wine, or a 1.5 oz shot of distilled spirits.
Current national recommendations state that women should limit alcohol intake to one drink per day (up to 7 drinks/week), and men should not have more than 2 drinks daily (up to 14 drinks/week).
However, drinking alcohol can disrupt your weight loss plans if you’re not careful. Because alcohol can lower inhibitions, it's easy to go overboard once you start drinking. Drinking during the evening also affects sleep in many people, which in turn can create food cravings in the morning.
To prevent frequent disruptions to your sleep and eating habits, a good strategy is to limit the number of days you drink during the week or perhaps, limit drinking to the weekend.
Drink More Tea
Tea is another zero-calorie beverage that is just as hydrating as water, even if it is a caffeinated tea. Traditional or herbal teas can be great for hydration, flavor, and other potential health benefits.
Supporting Your Weight Loss Journey
Having a weight loss coach for accountability can be a game-changer in meeting your hydration goals and losing weight.
Fitmate Coaches can help you:
- Set daily water targets
- Personalize techniques to help your weight loss and hydration goals
- Send you helpful reminders for healthy habits
- Help you manage moderate alcohol intake
- Teach you how to incorporate key techniques for weight loss (such as eating high protein and fiber-rich foods)
Interested in meeting both your hydration and weight loss goals? Start with the Fitmate Coach Assessment to be matched with a meal plan and nutrition coach who can help you reach your goals.
Author Alon Laniado is the founder of Fitmate Coach and certified in Nutrition with Stanford University School of Medicine and with Precision Nutrition. He is a certified Health & Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer with the American Council on Exercise. Alon has helped thousands of clients lose weight and is on a mission to help more people benefit from weight-loss coaches by making the service more affordable and accessible using technology.
What are the signs of drinking too much water?
Water toxicity can occur if you drink too much water at once. Signs of drinking too much water include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps and weaknesses, altered mental status, headaches, bloating, falls and changes in gait, and significant loss of appetite.
What is the best time to drink water for weight loss?
The best time to drink water for weight loss is 15-30 minutes before a meal to reduce calorie intake at meals. It is still important to drink water throughout the day.
Can drinking water flatten your stomach?
Staying hydrated can help with weight loss and fat burning, so it can be beneficial for flattening your stomach when done in combination with lifestyle behaviors like exercise, good sleep, and healthy eating.
Should you drink water while eating?
Drinking water while eating can help you digest your meals better and reduce constipation. If you have concerns about bloating with water, pace your water intake so that you don’t drink too much at once.