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Are we sure water helps with weight loss?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Finding ways to curb hunger can help with weight loss. One way that has been suggested to cut calories and shed excess weight is by consuming more water. But does it really work? What does the science say?


Findings from a study published August 2015 in the journal Obesity found drinking water before meals did indeed help people lose weight.

There may be good reason to make water your best friend it turns out, but the truth is, more studies are needed to know for sure.

According to the findings, people who drank a pint water 30 minutes before a meal lost about 3 more pounds than the group that was assigned to just imagine they already felt full before their meals.

When study participants boosted their water intake before meals to 16 ounces they lost even more weight - 9 pounds over the course of the study.

Why water might work well to help you lose weight

Water is suggested for weight loss because it supposedly makes us feel fuller and keeps us feeling that way for longer.

Researchers have been trying to understand why the clear liquid that some people shun altogether may (or may not) be useful when it comes to losing weight.

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See: Try infused water instead of soda

A study published in 1999 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found choosing soup that has more water than a casserole helped people lose weight. But drinking water with a meal didn't have the same effect.

Drs. Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb, publishing in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology in 2011 note that the internet is rife with suggestions that water can detoxify the body and help with weight loss.

They noted if we drink water over a short period of time we just excrete it. But if we drink water over a period of 2.5 hours, it stays with us.

The physician authors felt there really wasn't enough evidence to say drinking water could help fight obesity. They recommended more studies, pointing out that those studies need to be large and randomized. It seems the authors think the benefits of drinking water might even been overrated

Internet claims that drinking more water will improve skin heath, help prevent diseases and even quell headaches appear to be unfounded.

Adam Drewnowski, PhD who is a satiety expert from the University of Washington has been looking at beverage in genera to see if liquids in general can help us cut calories. So far, the answer seems to be no.

Can drinking water 30 minutes before a meal or eating foods that have more water content help with weight loss? The answer is just maybe. Without well designed studies we can't know for certain.