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The Right Way to Drink Water for Weight Loss

The Right Way to Drink Water for Weight Loss

Toast this news with a cool glass of H20! In a study from the University of Illinois, people who drank one, two or three extra glasses of water a day took in between 68 and 208 fewer calories—enough to lose nearly a half-pound a week.

For the study, scientists looked at the drinking habits of 18,311 volunteers. Those who bumped up their plain water intake not only dialed down calories, but they also consumed up to a tablespoon less sugar daily. That’s very good news. Sodium intake was dialed back, a potential help for lowering high blood pressure and they cut sat-fat intake easing inflammation.

Only plain water had this effect—not coffee, not tea, soda, juice or milk. The researchers suspect the water-lovers may have cut back on sugary drinks and no longer mistook feeling thirsty for hunger—a common confusion that leads to overeating.

Two Virginia Tech studies found more benefits of upping your H20 consumption: Drinking water before meals cut calorie intake 13 percent in one, and helped midlife women and men lose more weight than those who didn’t have H20 as an appetizer, in another. The easiest way to get the water you need: Obey your thirst. Drink when your body tells you that you need water. Don’t delay. By the time you’re thirsty, you’ve lost 1 to 2 percent of body water.

You’re drinking enough if your urine in the toilet bowl is pale yellow; if it’s darker than that you need to drink more water. That’s especially important for older adults, whose sense of thirst may be diminished. Here’s how to harness the power of water for healthy weight loss.

Carry a water bottle. Take advantage of all those new water bottle filling stations turning up on public drinking fountains by toting your own bottle. You’ll save money, help the environment by not buying water in throw-away plastic bottles and always have a cool thirst-quencher on hand. We like slim bottles with secure, flip-top drinking spouts that slip into purses, backpacks and briefcases.

Sip, don’t gulp. Make the most of every swallow by sipping water slowly. A University of Toronto study found people who downed a seven-ounce glassful in 15 minutes eliminated most of it the next time they hit the bathroom. Those who slowly sipped held on to much more.

Munch, crunch and spoon up water-rich foods, too. In addition to several glasses of plain water every day, fit in plenty of fruit, veggies and low-fat or fat-free dairy products or dairy alternatives. Turns out the world’s healthiest foods are also a great source of additional fluids, providing about 20 percent of your daily water needs. Foods that help satisfy your total daily water needs include apples (84 percent water), broccoli (91 percent), carrots (87 percent) grapefruit (91 percent), yogurt (85 percent) and watermelon (92 percent).

Start lunch or dinner with a broth-based vegetable soup. You get a double dose of water that fills you up so much that you’ll eat less at your next meal, according to a string of brilliant studies from Pennsylvania State University. The veggies and soup satisfy you three ways: A bowlful looks like a lot of food, so you don’t feel deprived; you’ll spend a lot of time chewing and swallowing, which tells your brain you’re eating something substantial; and the fluid, fiber and sheer volume of your soupy meal-starter linger in your stomach, so you feel full longer.

Deal with personal leaks. If you’re coping with incontinence, you may be tempted to cut back on fluids to avoid embarrassment. We understand that, but we want you to understand that this could leave you dehydrated, mentally fuzzy and at high risk for painful urinary tract infections. Talk to your doc about incontinence; ask about a referral to a specialist who can help with pelvic-floor muscle training and provide other remedies.  

Medically reviewed in February 2019.

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