I'm sure you've read this advice before, but it bears repeating: It's important to drink plenty of water when you're trying to lose weight. In fact, you should drink two cups of cold water before every meal to maximize fat loss. Skeptical? Let's dive into the science behind water and weight loss.
Water and Weight
Drinking water has been shown to aid fat loss through two different mechanisms. The first is the more obvious: Water can make you fuller before meals and help you eat less. Virginia Tech researchers had two groups of 24 subjects follow a low-calorie diet for 12 weeks. One group drank 500 mL (about 2 cups) of water prior to their meals, and the other group did not drink before meals. Those who drank the water before meals not only ate less food, but they dropped almost 50% more weight than the group not drinking before meals!
Water can also help you shed more fat by boosting your metabolic rate. German researchers reported that subjects drinking 500 mL of cold water on an empty stomach boosted metabolic rate by 30%. The researchers repeated the experiment in a later study and found similar results. They also looked into the mechanism involved. Cold water on an empty stomach appears to boost norepinephrine levels, which is a neurotransmitter that raises metabolic rate.
The researchers theorized that if a person drank 2 cups of cold water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for a year, they'd burn 17,400 extra calories. This translates into a little more than 5 pounds of body fat lost, and that's without dieting! Imagine the fat-loss benefits of this strategy when combined with a fat-loss diet, especially one of mine, where you eat multiple meals per day.
When it comes to getting lean, remember to drink 2 cups of cold water between meals to eat less food and boost your metabolic rate in an effort to burn more calories at rest. And be sure to get in a total of 1-1.5 gallons of water every day. Staying hydrated is important for overall health, and research shows hydration helps athletes maintain better strength and endurance, as well as brain function.
- Boschmann, M., et al. Water-induced thermogenesis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 88(2):6015-19.
- Boschmann, M., et al. Water drinking induces thermogenesis through osmosensitive mechanisms. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Aug;92(8):3334-7.
- Dennis, E. A., et al. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Feb;18(2):300-7.
- Judelson, D. A., et al. Effect of hydration state on strength, power, and resistance exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Oct;39(10):1817-24.
- Schoffstall JE, et al. "Effects of dehydration and rehydration on the one-repetition maximum bench press of weight-trained males." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Resarch, 2001 Feb;15(1):102-8.