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Does Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight?

Just drinking water won't necessarily lead to weight loss on its own, but in combination with other healthy habits like exercise and nutrition, hydration is an important part of reaching your goals.

Woman drinking a glass of water in her kitchen
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You probably know that sipping water is a top recommendation for health and wellness. Aside from the fact that more than half the body is made up of water, our cells, skin, organs, and muscles need it to function. Plus, water helps carry nutrients to our cells and flushes out toxins. 

But even further, water could also help you reach your weight loss goals. There are several ways water contributes to weight loss and healthy body weight. We will answer all your questions about water and weight loss below, plus give you a few tips to help you drink more water each day.

How Drinking Water Helps With Weight Loss

Talk to any health professional, and they will tell you that water is essential for a healthy lifestyle. It's involved in every bodily function, and we can't live without it. Hydration even has a relationship with your weight—but many people don't drink enough.1 There are several reasons that drinking more water may translate to weight loss benefits.

Staying Hydrated Could Help Curb Overeating

It's important to listen to cues from your body and eat when you're hungry, but drinking water before meals could help with overeating. One study found that people who drank 500 ml of water before meals lost significantly more weight than those who didn't, likely because it helped with satiety.2 Satiety means feeling full and satisfied after eating, which can help prevent overeating.

Another study found similar results when participants drank 500 ml of water before meals, resulting in significant changes in body mass index (BMI) and body weight.3

Drinking Enough Water is Important for Blood Sugar 

Dehydration can cause blood sugar levels to rise and lead to cravings and overeating. One study found that people who reported drinking less water had an increased risk of developing hyperglycemia after a nine-year follow-up.4

When you are properly hydrated, blood sugar may remain more stable, which can help reduce cravings to support a healthy weight.

Water Could Increase How Many Calories You Burn

Drinking water could slightly increase calorie burn and contribute to weight loss. One study found that drinking 500 ml of water after fasting overnight increased metabolism by 30% (60 minutes after ingestion) for both men and women.5 

Research also suggests that drinking water could help with weight loss, even without changing diet or exercise routine.6 In other words, simply drinking more water could increase metabolic rate and contribute to overall calorie burn.

Replacing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages With Water Cuts Out Empty Calories

If you regularly drink sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, or sweetened coffee or tea, replacing them with water could help you lose weight, even without any other changes.

One 12-ounce can of soda contains about 150 calories and 37 grams of sugar.7 That's equivalent to around 9 teaspoons of sugar. But sweetened coffee and tea can add up just as quickly. If you cut out 150 calories daily from sugar-sweetened beverages, that adds up to a deficit of more than 1000 calories a week!

How Quickly Can You Lose Weight by Drinking More Water?

Weight loss results will vary from person to person. How quickly you see results will depend on your starting weight, diet, and exercise habits. Remember, drinking water alone isn't a magic bullet for weight loss. But adding it to a healthy lifestyle could help you lose weight and keep it off long-term.

Healthy, realistic weight loss is usually a maximum of 2 pounds per week, but since everyone is so different, this can vary. Plus, weight loss isn't always linear. You may lose 3 pounds one week, 1 pound the next, and then plateau for a few weeks before you begin to lose weight again.

Stay consistent with your habits, including water intake, and trust the process. The most important thing you can do is make healthy choices each day that you can stick with long-term.

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day?

Most health experts recommend that adults drink at least 8 cups (2 liters) of water daily. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that men consume about 13 cups (3 liters) of fluids per day, and women consume about 9 cups (2.2 liters). 1

Another tip is to pay attention to how often you need to use the bathroom and the color of your urine. If you drink enough water, your urine will be light yellow, but if it is dark yellow, you probably need to drink more water.

Man filling up reusable water bottle with faucet water

Factors that affect how much water you should drink daily include age, exercise, climate, and overall health. If you have any medical conditions, check with your doctor to see if they recommend changing your water intake.

What Type of Water is Best for Hydration?

Plain water, unsweetened sparkling water, tea, or black coffee can help you stay hydrated. Too much caffeine can have the opposite effect, so limit your intake if you get jittery or dehydrated.

If you don't like the taste of plain water, add a slice of lemon or lime, or try herb-infused water. You can also find many flavored sparkling options that don't contain any added sugar. Just be sure to check the nutrition label for added sweeteners.

And even though sugar-free drinks may seem tempting, they aren't as beneficial as water. One study found that replacing diet beverages with water during a weight loss program led to more pounds lost.8

The best type of water is the one you'll drink. Find what tastes best to you.

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Can You Drink Too Much Water?

While it's rare, drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication and hyponatremia. This occurs when the level of salt in your body becomes diluted. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. But you'd have to drink a lot of water for this to happen, so it's very difficult for most people to drink too much water.

Tips For Drinking More Water for Weight Loss and Health

If you're not used to drinking water regularly, it can be tough to make it a habit. Here are a few tips that may help:

  • Set a daily goal for how much water you want to drink, and try to reach it by the end of the day.
  • Keep a water bottle with you at all times, and take sips throughout the day.
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Add fruits or vegetables to infuse your water with flavor.
  • Drink sparkling water or seltzer if plain water is too boring for you.
  • If you don't like the taste of plain water, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. 
  • Place reminder notes around your house or set alarms on your phone.
  • If you usually drink sweetened beverages, start by replacing one or two of them with water each day.

Water & Weight Loss FAQs

Does Drinking Water After Eating Help You Lose Weight?

There is no evidence that drinking water after meals helps with weight loss. As mentioned above, drinking water before a meal could help with weight loss by promoting satiety and reducing overeating.

Can Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight Without Exercise?

Drinking water may help promote weight loss by increasing satiety and reducing calorie intake. However, it will not lead to significant weight loss on its own. A healthy diet, exercise, blood sugar balance, sleep, and stress management all contribute to weight loss too.

Does Water Fasting Help With Weight Loss?

Water fasting is a type of fasting where you consume only water for a set period, usually 24-72 hours. There is some evidence that water fasting can help with weight loss. However, it is not a sustainable or healthy way to lose weight in the long term. 

Intermittent fasting, which involves alternating between periods of fasting and eating, may be a more sustainable and healthier approach to fasting for weight loss.

Bottom Line: Hydration is an Important Part of Your Healthy Lifestyle

Drinking water is vital for so many aspects of health. It can help with weight loss by increasing satiety and reducing calorie intake. Still, it's only one piece of the puzzle. Weight loss that stays off isn't about one habit but requires a holistic approach that includes a healthy diet, regular physical activity, blood sugar balance, and adequate rest. 

If you are interested in seeing just how water impacts markers of health that influence weight, you may want to consider a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). These devices measure your blood sugar in real-time and can provide valuable insights into how hydration, food choices, and physical activity impact your blood sugar levels. Learn more about Signos here.

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References

1.  Gandy J. (2015). Water intake: validity of population assessment and recommendations. European journal of nutrition, 54 Suppl 2(Suppl 2), 11–16. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-015-0944-8 

2.  Dennis, E. A., Dengo, A. L., Comber, D. L., Flack, K. D., Savla, J., Davy, K. P., & Davy, B. M. (2010). Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 18(2), 300–307. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2009.235 

3.  Vij, V. A., & Joshi, A. S. (2013). Effect of 'water induced thermogenesis' on body weight, body mass index and body composition of overweight subjects. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 7(9), 1894–1896. https://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2013/5862.3344 

4.  Roussel, R., Fezeu, L., Bouby, N., Balkau, B., Lantieri, O., Alhenc-Gelas, F., Marre, M., Bankir, L., & D.E.S.I.R. Study Group (2011). Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia. Diabetes care, 34(12), 2551–2554. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc11-0652 

5.  Boschmann, M., Steiniger, J., Hille, U., Tank, J., Adams, F., Sharma, A. M., Klaus, S., Luft, F. C., & Jordan, J. (2003). Water-induced thermogenesis. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 88(12), 6015–6019. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-030780 

6.  Stookey, J. D., Constant, F., Popkin, B. M., & Gardner, C. D. (2008). Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 16(11), 2481–2488. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2008.409 

7.  “FoodData Central.” Accessed June 14, 2022. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1104331/nutrients.

8. Madjd, A., Taylor, M. A., Delavari, A., Malekzadeh, R., Macdonald, I. A., & Farshchi, H. R. (2015). Effects on weight loss in adults of replacing diet beverages with water during a hypoenergetic diet: a randomized, 24-wk clinical trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 102(6), 1305–1312. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.115.109397

About the Author

Caitlin Beale is a registered dietitian and nutrition writer with a master’s degree in nutrition. She has a background in acute care, integrative wellness, and clinical nutrition.
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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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