Weight loss can feel like an overwhelming task if viewed from the stance of “all” the things that must be adjusted in order to get the process started. As with any project, it is easiest to approach by breaking it down into easier components. For example, one week, increase your physical activity. The next, start working on your diet. Then address your sleep hygiene. . .and follow it up by focusing on how other factors in your wellness could be improved, for example, your hydration. Water is needed for every bodily function, so it’s no surprise that it plays a role in weight loss. And yet, it is so often overlooked, with studies suggesting that as many as 75% of the American population is chronically dehydrated.
Here are 6 ways that hydration can benefit weight loss:
Suppresses weight loss
Simple in concept, but the reason behind this benefit is that water can help to take up space in the stomach, leading to a feeling of fullness and reducing hunger. In tandem with drinking water before a meal, explore how mindful eating may help weight loss. When practicing mindful eating, where we truly pay attention to the food we eat, we may indulge in fewer unhealthy foods. Drinking water before starting a meal is one example of being more mindful of how our eating habits impact our bodies- it includes being fully attentive to all that surrounds food (from what we buy, how we prepare and serve it) and habits we’ve come to associate with eating.
Brenda Davy, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech and senior author of one study, said that drinking just two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals helps people melt pounds away. Davy explained, “Our study present[s] results demonstrating that increased water consumption is an effective weight loss strategy. We found in earlier studies that middle aged and older people who drank two cups of water right before eating a meal ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories during the meal.” Other studies also showed that consuming water before meals, in addition to regular water consumption, resulted in a reduction in a reduction in body weight, body fat, and body mass index.
Increases calories burned
We explored in a previous post whether it made a difference if warm or cold water was consumed when it came to weight loss. In a 2014 study, 12 people who drank 500 mL of cold and room temperature water experienced an increase in energy expenditure, burning between 2 and 3 percent more calories than usual in the 90 minutes after drinking the water.
Resting metabolic rate accounts for about 70% of our total daily energy expenditure. In contrast, physical activity (both exercise and non-exercise activity) accounts for 20%, and digestion accounts for 10% of our daily energy expenditure. So boosting our metabolic rate by drinking 2 liters of cold water per day may boost energy expenditure by approximately 95 calories.
It’s not much, but every little bit helps. That extra 95 calories burned can make a big impact – in roughly 5 weeks, just drinking a chilled glass of water rather than room temperature could help you lose a pound. Over a year, that adds up to about 10 pounds!
Hydration is essential to the body to effectively digest any food. Without it, the body can not break down foods to obtain their nutrients, and cannot remove waste. Water helps the kidneys to filter toxins and waste while the organ retains essential nutrients and electrolytes. When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys retain fluid which can lead to swelling, or more serious issues like high blood pressure, or fluid in your lungs (called pulmonary edema).
Helps you avoid drinking high-calorie drinks
Maybe easier said than done, but swapping out those high- calorie coffee drinks or casual cans of soda from the vending machine can make a difference. Authors of a 2012 study found that replacing two or more high-caloric beverages for non-caloric drinks every day for 6 months resulted in an average weight loss of between 2 and 2.5 percent in a group of females. Thirsty, but not really in the mood for plain water? Try adding sliced fruit or herbs like mint (or check out these healthy drink recipes ). It’ll help you cut down on the excess calories and fat found in many other drinks, not to mention the benefit to your body from cutting out any excess sugar.
Helps burn fat efficiently
The process of metabolizing fat is called lipolysis, a process which relies on water. Without proper hydration, the body isn’t able to properly burn off fat from foods and drinks, impacting other efforts that are being made to lose weight. When it comes to weight loss, it’s not just about eating lower fat, lower calorie foods, but helping our bodies function at peak performance with anything that we consume. Drink up!
Helps your exercise performance stay at its peak
Water helps muscles, connective tissues, and joints to move correctly. Staying hydrated also supports essential functions carried out by the lungs, heart, and other organs which are working harder when physical activity increases. When exercising, hydration is crucial to help the body maintain peak performance, making the most out of the activity you’re doing to help reach and maintain a healthy weight. Don’t shortchange your body and skip out on hydrating (before, during, and after) physical activity!
How much water is needed?
A shocking 75% of Americans live in a chronic state of dehydration. That means that most of us need to make a serious improvement in supporting our bodies functions by increasing how much water we drink and including more foods with high water content.
That means that most of us need to make a serious improvement in supporting our bodies functions by increasing how much water we drink and including more foods with high water content. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men, and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.
Add in more of the following foods to your diet for a boost in hydration. They have a high water content so eat to you heart’s content- they’ll also fill you up with less calories and hydrate at the same time. A trifecta!
Add in more of the following foods to your diet for a boost in hydration:
- bell peppers
- skim milk (this will also give you a protein boost, which can fight off hunger)
Imagine how much better we would all feel if we address hydration- a simple, yet vital, factor of our health. That it will help us move closer to our weight loss goals is an added bonus!