Water For Weight Loss: Can Drinking More Help You Lose More?

by The Health Sciences Academy — Get free science updates here.

Water is quantitatively the most important nutrient when it comes to preventing chronic diseases.

There is even evidence that mild dehydration may account for some deaths.

With about 60% of our human body made up of water, it is undoubtedly essential to survival. Your cells, body temperature, joint lubrication, and internal transport system depend on it.

But many people fail to drink enough of it. Especially those who are trying to lose weight.

Here are three points to consider if you (or your client) are trying to lose weight:

1. Water and satiety

The first randomised controlled trial to show increasing water consumption is an effective way to lose weight was reported in 2010 at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

That study found participants who drank two cups of water before each meal lost more weight than those who didn’t.

In fact, the pre-meal water drinkers lost an average of 5 pounds (ca. 2.3 kilos) more weight over a 12-week period than those who followed the same diet but did not drink the water.

Known as water pre-loading, drinking before a meal appears to play a role in satiety. According to the researchers, two glasses of water before a meal can do two things for you:

  1. Make you less hungry
  2. Result in fewer calories eaten

If this strategy affects satiety during the meal, consider incorporating those two glasses of water before eating and closely monitor the effects.

2. Water and metabolism

Even if you are mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down.

Being dehydrated reduces blood volume, which can also reduce the supply of oxygen to your muscles.

As you can imagine, this can make you feel tired, both physically and mentally. No good energy comes out of being tired, especially when your goal is to stay active whilst you lose weight.

On the other hand, drinking water can boost your body’s ability to burn fat.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking 500 ml of water increases metabolic rate by 30 percent in healthy men and women. That’s not only a boost to your system, but it is an encouraging lift to drink more to burn more.

Warning: before radically increasing your intake of water for weight loss, be aware of the lethal dangers of water poisoning.

3. Water and toxins

Water plays a key role in detoxification and elimination. It is the element in which many of the toxins are eliminated from the body.

Drinking plenty of water flushes your system and helps excrete waste products.

Water is not only the medium for most chemical reactions in your body, but also the vital link in flushing out the normal wastes, or by-products, of your metabolism.

Ironically, a well-hydrated body is less likely to retain fluid. Excessive fluid trapped in body tissue can add a few digits on the scales.

Note: There are several detrimental metabolic processes triggered by toxicants which can lead to fat gain. You’re invited to learn this science in our Detox Specialist certification. Toxicology and detoxification are the two long-established fields of scientific research you’ll gain expertise on (DIFFERENT FROM the made-up fallacies circulating the internet these days). This way, you can safely and completely help your clients with their shorter-term health goals.

Keep yourself topped off for weight loss success

Last week, many of you have shared your stories about how you’ve installed a new habit to drink more water, more often.

Cueing yourself to keep a tall glass of water by the coffee maker to drink upon waking and before coffee; placing a jar of water around the house; setting an alarm as a reminder; checking off a list with the number of glasses you drink.

These are all excellent. The beauty of a habit is that there’s always a reward at the end – such as seeing that jar empty, or checking off each glass on that list!

So simple, yet acutely relevant to success.

How about you? How do you see the consumption of water for weight loss? Have you tried it with yourself or with a client? If not, are you willing to?

Join in the conversation and let us know in the comments below!

Science Reports:

Available upon individual purchase. Learn more here!

Do Low-Carb Diets Suppress Appetite?

Can Fat Make You Full?

Do Frequent Meals Raise Your Metabolism?

Related Certifications:

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Advanced Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner

Advanced Sports and Exercise Nutritional Advisor

Alex Ruani, Doctoral Researcher, leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where her team of accomplished scientists and PhDs are training a new breed of over 100,000 highly-specialised nutrition professionals who are leveraging the latest personalisation strategies to help their clients. She is a Harvard-trained scientist and UCL Doctoral Researcher who is fanatical about equipping health professionals with the latest science-based tools so they can succeed in their practices – from identifying the unique nutrient needs to building highly personalised nutrition programs. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition biochemistry, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free email updates.

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  • Mitch

    Reply Reply September 7, 2014

    I try to keep a big bottle of water on me at all times and just keep sipping on it all day.

    I find that when I do, I feel healthy and stay regular.

    When I don’t drink any water for a day or two, I start to feel bloated and lethargic.

    I also definitely notice the difference on the scales when I’ve been drinking water regularly.

    Keep up the fluid intake people, it’s worth it.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply September 8, 2014

      Mitch, it’s interesting how you notice the difference, thanks for sharing!

  • Emma Goodson

    Reply Reply September 8, 2014

    I did a trial myself for a class assignment and did find that it worked, it also made me go to loo more, but in the first week i had headaches. I do not drink enough water or fluids at all, i can get by on one glass a day of fluids, but then i will have a day where i just cannot stop drinking at all and i feel so thirsty. I try to remember to drink, my partner nags me all the time as did my Dad, but when i get the feeling i tend to grab a snack as i believe that i do not know the difference between hunger and thirst. If i remember i will try the fluid first but if i am in a hurry ( which being a single mom of twins and an autistic child, disabled mother and studying) i grab whatever is easier. However, after that first week i felt great, i had more energy, i felt less sluggish, i ate a little less and my brain worked better, but as anyone will know old habits die hard. But since reading this i will redo my assignment and this time carry it on, i will keep a bottle of water next to me while i study and also with me everywhere i go. i will try the two glasses before meals and see what the result is. Thanks for the great info, i love to hear from the Health Science Academy, your articles are immensely interesting.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply September 8, 2014

      Emma – thank you so much, it means the world to us that you enjoy our newsletters; we pour a lot of time and energy into delivering the best content we possibly can and deeply appreciate you letting us know it makes a difference! BTW, your water assignment sounds like a fun challenge, keep us posted :-)

  • Stephanie

    Reply Reply September 8, 2014

    I leave a small glass on the counter in the kitchen. Every time I see it, I take a drink. I don’t like big glasses or bottles. Some days when I’m sluggish…. Like yesterday, I realize I have had little to no water…bad!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply September 8, 2014

      Stephanie – when you find something that works for you, keep doing it! Have you considered keeping an extra glass somewhere else in the house/at work? :-)

  • Chris

    Reply Reply September 8, 2014

    Over the last few years I have been learning more about water quality. There is significant differences in drinking water that we purchase or is plumbed into our homes. Not only the added chemicals but the acidity level is quite high in commercial bottled water compared to natural spring water which is more alkaline. You can do a simple test with pH. strips that can be purchase from the pharmacy. There is lots of fascinating info regarding water out there, one DVD I would recommend is simply called Water. Check it out if your interested in learning more.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply September 8, 2014

      Chris – water quality, good idea for a future article :-)


    Reply Reply September 8, 2014

    I downloaded an App on my android Called ” Water Your Body” and it reminds me to drink water by giving a Flowing water sound . You put in your weight and it calculates the amount of water you should drink in a day. I find this free App very helpful and would recommend it to everybody.
    I had a water softener and filter installed last year and I am confident of any impurities been removed .. Thanks for all your fab articles.

    • Maurice Castelijn

      Reply Reply September 8, 2014

      Percy, great tip! I’ve just downloaded the Water Your Body app myself. Going to give this a go to keep track of my own water intake.

  • Debbie

    Reply Reply September 9, 2014

    Great tips! Found many of the ideas helpful especially if there is a medical issue requiring controlled intake of fluids. I’ve become acutely aware of when the water intake is too little or too much.

  • Bobbie Sue

    Reply Reply September 9, 2014

    I have done a pretty good job of drinking half my body weight in ounces for about 2.5 years and I feel it has definitely helped maintain my weight, also digestive tract. My skin improved in the suppleness and my lips are less likely to get chapped. It is so amazing how the body functionality can really succeed when it has the nutrients it needs.

  • Patty

    Reply Reply September 9, 2014

    My daughter showed me how to make some cucumber lemon infused water by cutting up lemons and cucumber and adding to a pitcher of water to keep in the refrigerator. It tastes great and helps me to drink more water.

  • Monique

    Reply Reply September 10, 2014

    Thanks for the great article. However, I have a client who says she has been advised by another nutritionist not to drink more than 3 litres of water a day as it leads to flushing out of nutrients. I checked this & while there is no evidence to suggest this is true Patrick Holford in his book “Optimum Nutrition” states that TOO much water can place a strain on the kidneys?

    Personally, I always used to drink lots of water before eating but then read this can interfere with proper digestion due to diluting stomach acid? So now in a bit of a dilemma…any thoughts?

    • admin

      Reply Reply September 10, 2014

      Hi Monique – thanks, great idea for a future article, we’ve added it to our editorial calendar.

  • donna

    Reply Reply September 13, 2014

    I am an avid believer in drinking water and always try to make friends drink more. I have an awesome 1ltr bottle that has the hrs of the day on it, and from 8 in the morning till noon I have to drink the first ltr, then refill for the afternoon. But it also breaks down the duration into hrs to show how much you should drink per hr. ( hope that makes sense)
    It actually makes me realise how little or how much water I have got through, and if I’m slacking, I drink enough to bring me up to speed.

    I also have heard the same as Monique, that drinking just before or after a meal slows down digestion!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply September 13, 2014

      It is irrefutable that water dilutes stomach acid, which in turn slows digestion and gastric emptying. And this can be a good thing OR a bad thing, depending on the person and their individual goals.

      So the question to ask is: what’s more important to you/your client?

      For instance, delayed gastric emptying is associated with decreased over-consumption, which can be beneficial for those with a tendency to eat until having a full or completely stretched stomach.

      On the other hand, if you have someone who struggles with digestive problems, it’s sensible to experiment with water pre-loading for a day or two and see what feedback you get. Was there any digestive discomfort? Did the person notice a difference? Did they feel physical pain – or did they feel nothing at all?

      We need to operate on the premise that everyone is different, and what works for someone else, may not work for you. And it’s perfectly okay to test, get feedback, fine tune, and adjust course with every new strategy that you implement.

  • Paul

    Reply Reply September 14, 2014

    I drank 2 litres of sparkling water everyday for 3 years, in this process I lost 5 stone in weight and all my skin pigments vanished

    • Karen

      Reply Reply September 16, 2014

      Well done and hope you are enjoying your new svelte self.

  • Karen

    Reply Reply September 16, 2014

    I am trying to lose 4st so will try the water loading before my meals. I am determined to succeed after many failed attempts and am finding these discussions so helpful and informative.

  • Kimberly

    Reply Reply September 30, 2014

    I recently heard of “structured water” being more beneficial/absorbable. This was in reference to water filtering that adds an additional oxygen molecule, I believe, producing more alkaline product. It was compared to the health benefits from natural spring waters, often hot springs, near volcanos. Increased absorption promoted improved detoxification, including removal of heavy metals. Any science-based research to support this type of filtering?

  • suz

    Reply Reply December 14, 2014

    my Grandmother turned 99 today. She lives alone, is active socially and physically, and is only recently beginning to forget some things. She is one example of someone who never drinks water, hasn’t had a glass of water in over 40 years, hates milk too. She drinks tea, juice and coffee. Everyone is different!
    She walks everywhere, swims, dances, attends functions most nights, volunteers and recently gave up driving. Has had hip replacements and arthritis but no chronic diseases.

  • Elena

    Reply Reply September 10, 2015

    Does nationality influence on water intake?
    Ex: Italians drink water all the time and during the meal(south),
    East Europe – do not drink water during the meal
    A lot of article saying that drinking water during the meal create fermentation?
    If we drink water before meal, will it not create fermentation as well?
    Sorry, too many questions.

    • Hi Elena! Your individual genetics, climate, physical activity levels, cultural norms and environmental influences may correlate to your water intake, amount, frequency, etc. I’m not sure what you mean by fermentation from drinking water… Water drank during meals may delay gastric emptying and digestion. Some individuals are okay with this, while others may experience some discomfort. That’s why what works for you may not work for someone else, as Alex our Research Director explains in a comment above :-)

  • Peggy

    Reply Reply September 22, 2015

    I have been thinking a lot about water lately. Growing up my father owned a spring water company. We had access to real spring water, in glass bottles. Now, I can’t find a source of real spring water and can’t help thinking the type of water we drink is very important. Real spring water (not from a well) contains minerals that are so good for us. Thank you for your article. It is spurring me on to looking further for good water, and making drinking lots of water a priority.

  • Suzanne

    Reply Reply September 23, 2015

    I drink a lot of water and believe in it, I suffer from migraines if I don’t, or I’ll even wake up from a sound sleep craving water, milk, juice, anything. BUT my grandmother, age 100 and healthy, never drinks water, has not had a glass of water in over 50 years, maybe more. She hates milk as well. She doesn’t believe in the water drinking messages we are giving. She will drink juice and tea, and some coffee. This must be where she gets hydrated. She is active, walking, swimming and volunteering.

  • Kyle

    Reply Reply August 9, 2016

    An easy way to keep track of your consumption is using an H2Otally band for a few bucks it helps a lot!

  • Lisa

    Reply Reply February 25, 2017

    Very interesting to lose 5 pounds in 12 weeks just by drinking water before meals is great. I tend to drink a lot of water by default. I am going to pay more attention to drink it before meals

  • Patricia

    Reply Reply March 4, 2018

    I never drink water normally, never feel thirsty normally either. My liquid intake is via Tea and coffee or juices. I have more recently tried to drink water but not very successfully. I do take furosemide tablets for edema though. I am really going to take this article seriously and test it out myself over the next month. Thank you for such an interesting article

  • Linda

    Reply Reply October 26, 2018

    This was a very interesting article. Whenever I complained of water retention I was told to drink less. This article makes a lot more sense to me. I find it difficult to keep hydrated in the beginning of the winter so I started drinking green tea with stevia. I have really enjoyed reading the articles I read today. I like the way everything is explained so clearly. Thank you, Linda

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