Drinking water is essential for health. We need to drink to replace fluids lost in urine, sweat and each time we breathe we expel water, losing even more body fluid. The Department of Health recommends that we should drink around 1.2 fl litres of fluids per day or between 6 to 8 glasses of liquid, depending upon our age, size and bodily make up.
Water is especially good for dieters because it is pure and does not contain added sugars. Some fluids such as coffee, may not be fattening but have a diuretic effect so can actually promote dehydration.
For people trying to lose weight, water is especially good because it is 100% calorie free and can help improve the side effects of dieting. Drinking water before a meal helps suppress your appetite naturally too so helps you keep to your diet.
It’s Common Sense!
The weight loss effects of water can be seen as complete common sense. It is not so much that water helps you lose weight, but more of a case that when you are drinking calorie free water you are not drinking anything else! Many people consume high amounts of sodas throughout their day or beverages with added sugar so it stands to reason that replacing some of these with water will have a positive effect on weight loss.
Water is Less Fattening than Fizzy Drinks
According to a study carried out by the University of Carolina, test candidates lost on average 5% of body weight just by switching to drinking water and diet drinks from sodas and without making any other dietary and lifestyle changes. Of course, this was widely reported in the media as being a new miracle weight loss method but it seems the truth is not as revolutionary as the figures suggest.
The North Carolina Study was carried out on behalf of a bottled water company and recruited only people who already drank a high level of sweetened drinks throughout the day.
The participants were then divided into three groups; the water group, the diet drink group and the control group who just received healthy eating advice. The first two groups were provided with bottled water or diet drinks and the third group told to increase their activity levels and vegetable and fruit intake.
After six months period, which included regular meetings, weigh ins and support. The results between the three groups threw up negligible differences. Everyone lost weight but the group drinking the diet beverages and water were twice as likely to achieve 5% weight loss more than the control group.
According to the NHS, these findings were inconclusive. The study participants had already proved to have a weakness for fizzy drinks so all the test really proved was that if you drink a lot of fizzy sweetened drinks and then cut them out and replace with water, you will probably lose weight.
Although the test was open to all, the major demographic tested was black middle-aged American women so the results do not necessarily transfer to other population groups or to a UK audience. This test seems to have done little more than prove the obvious.
So Does This Mean That Drinking Water Makes No Difference to Weight Loss?
Weight loss is helped by ensuring you drink plenty of water.
Drinking water can help reduce your appetite. Dietary advice is to drink water with meals and a well-known “folk remedy” for weight loss has long been to drink a glass of water before your meal. The thinking is that this helps to fill you up before you start your meal and makes you less likely to over eat.
Drinking Water Before Meals Helps Weight Loss
Brenda Davy, associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, carried out research into this theory and threw up some interesting finds.
A randomised trial was carried out and provided conclusive evidence to the importance of water and its effects upon weight loss for the 55 to 75 age group.
Two groups were put onto a strict calorie control diet – for women approximately 1200 calories per day and men 1500 calories a day. The only difference between the two groups was that one group drank 500ml of water before each meal and the other group didn’t. Test findings revealed that on average, people ate between 70 and 90 fewer calories when the water was drank before the meal.
After 12 weeks, both groups had lost weight but on average, the water group lost around 5lbs more each. The water group reported it was much easier to maintain the diet and that they all felt less hungry and experienced greater energy levels and feelings of alertness.
In a follow up report a year later, most of the water group had continued with drinking 500ml before their meals and had not put back on weight in the same amount as the other group had.
Drinking Water Helps Prevent Yo-Yo Weight Gain
Dietary experts are hopeful that drinking water before meals may helpful in preventing weight loss rebound in the future. Many people struggle with maintaining a desirable weight, post dieting and anything that helps reduce appetite without side effects has to be good news. Drinking a glass of water before a meal is easy and effective as well as beneficial for health.
Drinking water will not automatically cause weight loss. You cannot drink yourself thin with water. However, you need to ensure you drink plenty of water when you are trying to lose weight to remain in good health.
Drinking Plenty of Water Maintains Health Throughout Weight Loss
Drinking water has the following benefits to dieters.
- Water helps your digestive system to function. If you are eating extra fibre (or taking fat binders), it can cause constipation if you do not consume sufficient fluids in order to eliminate waste.
- Water helps your muscles stay fit and healthy. Proper hydration reduces muscle ache and helps the muscles ability to contact by helping to lubricate your joints.
- Water helps flush toxins from your body and helps prevent urinary or kidney infections. The kidneys are the body’s filter system and need to be flushed out regularly in order to work effectively.
- Some early weight loss can be due to loss of bodily fluids. Drinking added water will help prevent dehydration.
- Dehydration reduces the blood volume and lowers the supply of oxygen to the muscles making you fee tired.
- Drinking water can help reduce your appetite by making you feel fuller.
Water is essential for keeping fit and well and when the body is under the stress of a weight loss diet, it will help you maintain health and energy levels.
Drinking Water to Reduce the Calories of Alcohol
Water can help you reduce your calorific intake when it comes to drinking alcohol. Many people find it easy to regard food as fattening and adding to weight but it is extremely easy to forget about the hidden calories of alcohol.
White wine contains around 750 calories per bottle and although red wine and rose is less, the calorific content of these is around 550 a bottle. Beers and spirits are also high and drinks like Bacardi Breezer contains 210 per glass.
You can easily reduce your alcohol calories intake by alternating each glass of alcohol with a glass of water. It will cut down your calorific intake by half and will help your health and your head next morning as well as your weight.
Are There Dangers of Drinking Too Much Water?
There have been stories in the press about people who have died from water overconsumption, called water intoxication but this is very rare. However drinking extremely large amounts of water in a very short time can lead to dangerously low sodium levels, swelling of the brain and seizures.
This happens because water in the body is regulated to control the levels of compounds such as salt and when the kidneys are overloaded with too much water, blood becomes diluted with low salt concentrations. The water then moves to the vital organs where there is less water and causes these to swell. Because the brain is encased in the skull, as it swells it compresses and impairs vital functions such as the ability to breathe. Warning signs include confusion – often mistaken for intoxication, and head aches and if left untreated will cause death.
Drinking several litres of water in a short period of time is extremely dangerous so it is important to keep within safe limits.
How Much Water Should you Drink for Health?
All the health advice is to drink around 1.2 litres of fluids per day and recommend that everyone should ensure that some of these are plain water. There are no fixed health rules about the amount of water that is necessary for good health.
How Can you Tell If You Are Dehydrated?
Dehydration is a very common problem and some people are always slightly dehydrated. You can tell if this is your situation by the following symptoms.
When you go to the toilet, you do not pass much urine and it is dark coloured and strong smelling. Urine should be the colour of pale straw and have an even flow.
Other side effects of dehydration include;
- Feeling light headed
- Fatigued and lacking in energy
If you notice these symptoms over the course of the day, drinking a glass of water will make you feel better. A glass of water may help you with hunger pangs too. Quite often, we think we are hungry when we are in fact, thirsty. Drinking a glass of water before you search for a snack may sometimes be enough to satisfy your food cravings.
Water is Essential
Water is essential for health. Our bodies are composed of 2/3 water and we can die of dehydration within three to five days if deprived from liquids, although some people have survived for longer.
We all have to drink, but increasing your water consumption, as part of your weight loss regime will not only help maintain your health and energy levels, it is a way of actually helping you to lose weight. This is such an easy thing to do and extra water should be included in any weight loss plan because it works and is good for you.