How Much Water Should You Drink To Lose Weight?

When we think of losing weight, our minds often go to dietary changes and physical exercise. And yes, these two are crucial elements in a weight-loss journey. However, there's another equally important and often ignored element — the amount of water you should drink.

Your body needs water for digestion, muscle development, and other numerous body functions. Therefore, the amount of water you take plays a significant role in your overall health and well-being. Additionally, water also plays a key role in weight loss. Drinking more water can help in weight loss and weight management.¹ But how much water do you need to drink to lose weight?

This article explains how drinking water can help lose weight and how much water to drink for best results.

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How drinking water can help you lose weight

Water is more than just a thirst quencher. In fact, it's also helpful for weight loss. Water helps you lose weight in various ways, and here are a few.

1. Water serves as a natural appetite suppressant

When the stomach senses a feeling of fullness, the mind receives signals to stop eating. Other than eating, drinking also fills the stomach. Therefore, drinking more water fills a greater space in the stomach, making you feel fuller quickly, reducing the total calories you consume with each meal. In fact, most people confuse thirst with hunger. So, next time you feel like reaching for a snack, try drinking water. You may realize that you never needed to grab that sandwich.

2. Water can help reduce liquid calorie intake

When we think of high-calorie foods, our minds see fatty, sugary snacks and junk foods. What most people don't know is that some drinks such as lattes and juices also add high calorific value to your diet. Similarly, alcohol, sodas, and milky drinks such as white coffees or shakes can skyrocket your daily calorie count.

Even healthy options such as vegetable or fruit juice may still add a number of calories into your diet, and ignoring these hidden amounts could interfere with your weight-loss journey. The next time you feel thirsty, don't reach out for that soft drink but instead take some cold water. This way, you'll reduce the calories you consume, which is good news for your weight-loss goals.

3.  Water can help burn more calories

The human body burns calories even when a person is resting, and water is crucial in making this happen. Resting energy expenditure is the number of calories you burn without working out, and drinking water boosts this by 3%.²

According to studies, drinking  500ml of ice-cold water increases metabolic rate, thus burning more calories.³ Coldwater, in particular, is important since it lowers body temperature, and your body will work harder to warm it. No matter what temperature, drinking water will rev up your metabolism, giving you an extra boost on your weight loss journey.

4. Water can help increase your workout success

Most people have at least once suspended their workout schedule for a while due to cramps. But if you regularly limp away from the gym, chances are you are not drinking enough water. Proper hydration helps your joints, muscles, and connective tissues to move smoothly and correctly, lowering the chances of sudden cramps and pain.

Regular water consumption also improves your heart and lung function, making you feel happier and healthier throughout the exercise. 

Put it simply, when you're properly hydrated, you're more likely to work out uninterrupted by shortness of breath, pain, or cramps. Your workout sessions will be more productive, and you'll burn more fat and calories, which accelerates your weight loss.

5. Water helps inefficient fat metabolism

Water molecules activate lipolysis or burning of fats in the body and facilitate their metabolism.⁴ That includes the recently stored or ingested fats from the food and drinks you take. This process cannot continue to its full potential if you fail to drink adequate water.

How much water should I drink to lose weight?

We now know that drinking water helps you lose weight. But how much water should you drink to lose weight? Of course, the body's water needs will vary among individuals.

For an average person

Water needs vary from one person to the other, but the typical recommended amount of 64 ounces per day can help an average person who wants to shed off just a few pounds. 

But the major challenge among most people is drinking enough water in the first place. A study by the CDC reveals that 43% of adults take four cups of water and below in a day, with 7% stating they don't take any amount at all.⁵

Generally, your thirst should be the guide. Adjust the intake accordingly if you still feel thirsty after taking 64 ounces. But if you feel quenched, you should not overdo it. Otherwise, taking too much water could overly dilute sodium levels in your brain (water intoxication or hyponatremia) and cause swelling in the brain, seizures, or even coma.

For people who are overweight

People who are obese or overweight have different water needs. They should drink more water to remain hydrated and help lose weight. Generally, you should take half of your body weight in ounces of water. Therefore, a person weighing 180 pounds should target about 90 ounces in a day. 

Also, according to Virginia Tech researchers, overweight adults who took 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before their meals shed off 3 pounds or more than those who didn't, and 9 pounds at the end of their 12th week.⁶

For people who work out a lot

How much water should you drink to lose weight if you are an endurance athlete or someone who works out regularly? You should take more than the oft-recommended 64 ounces in a day since sweating depletes the body of proper hydration. People who work out should take water as follows in addition to the recommended 64 ounces:⁷

  • 17–20 ounces 2–3 hours before starting the exercise

  • 8 ounces of water 20–30 minutes before starting the exercise or during warm-up

  • 7–10 ounces every 10–20 minutes during exercise

  • 8 ounces no more than 30 minutes after the exercise

As mentioned earlier, everyone has their individual hydration needs, and taking the recommended 64 ounces is a good place to start. From there, let thirst guide you on whether to stop at that or take more. Be sure not to go overboard.

Tips to increase your water intake

Increasing your water intake may be a challenge in itself. In fact, individuals who barely drink any water in a day find it difficult to start the habit. However, the following tips can help you start or increase your water intake.

1. Spice up your food

Add a little spice to your food, and for sure, you will crave some water to cool down your mouth. You can season your food with some cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or other great salt-free seasoning mixes available out there. Furthermore, taking water in between a meal makes you feel full faster, thus reducing the calories you consume in a sitting.

2. Eat fruits and vegetables

A quick way to increase your water intake is by consuming fruits and vegetables. These foods have a high fluid content, and when you go for your favorite ones, you will be an inch closer to your daily water goals even without knowing.

Consider fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as lettuce (95% water), celery (95% water), watermelon (91% water), and cantaloupe (90% water).⁸ ⁹ ¹⁰ ¹¹ You can take other fruits and vegetables, including pineapple, tomatoes, apples, radish, and zucchini. These will not only increase your fluid intake but also add minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins to promote your overall health.

3.  Infuse to make drinking water more enjoyable

Infuse water with mint, chopped cucumber, a squeeze of fresh lime, orange, or lemon to make the drinking water more enjoyable. It allows you to drink more than you would if it were just plain. After infusing the flavor, add the water to a pitcher or bottle and place it in the fridge. Infused cold water may double your water intake in no time.

4. Carry a reusable water bottle

Keeping a refillable water bottle with you can help increase your water intake throughout the day. It allows you to drink the water in any setting, whether traveling or running errands at home, school, or work.

Besides, the water bottle acts as a visual reminder to take more water. If you prefer to drink using a straw, you can look for one with built-in straws. Some reusable water bottles even have a special section for fruit infusion.

5. Drink one glass of water before each meal

You can make it a routine to consume a glass of water before each meal, which is sure to increase your intake. If you take three meals per day, that's an extra three cups to your daily water intake. Also, as we've already seen, we often mistake feelings of thirst for hunger, and therefore, taking a glass of water before the meal is a great way to discern whether you really feel hungry. This will help reduce the calories you take and aid in weight loss.

6.  Use a tracker app

Setting a daily goal on the amount of water you want to consume in a day can improve your intake. You can use a tracker app on your smartphone to help you attain your goal. Other than a tracker app, you can also set your alarm to go off and act as a reminder of the times you should take your water throughout the day.

The lowdown

Water can help you to lose weight. It is calorie-free, it suppresses appetite if you take it before eating, and it even helps your body burn more calories. However, you should do more than just drink water if you want to shed off a significant amount of weight. If we equate weight loss to a puzzle, then water is just a piece, and you need other pieces like physical exercise and dietary changes to complete the puzzle.

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