• By Jane Hart, MD

Can Drinking More Water Help You Lose Weight?

Weight loss experts often suggest that people drink a lot of water as part of a strategy to lose pounds, but does this advice really work? A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, when included in a weight-loss program, drinking more water may help people lose weight.

Body weight was reduced after 3 to 12 months in people who tried a combination of dieting, drinking more water, and a weight-loss program

Proof positive for weight loss programs

In this study, researchers explored the results of 11 studies looking at the link between drinking water and body weight in adults over 18:

  • In three of the reviewed studies, compared with those who participated in just a weight loss program, body weight was reduced after 3 to 12 months in people who tried a combination of dieting, drinking more water, and participating in a weight-loss or weight-maintenance program.
  • In one of the studies showing benefit, overweight participants followed a low-calorie diet and were advised to drink 0.5 liters of water before each of their three daily meals. After 12 weeks, the pre-meal-water group lost about four more pounds than the control group.
  • Some studies showed no effect or inconsistent results on the link between drinking water and body weight.

Based on their review of limited evidence, the study authors conclude that “Studies of individuals dieting for weight loss or maintenance suggest a weight-reducing effect of increased water consumption.” They add that while the evidence for drinking water and overweight prevention in school children seems promising, similar evidence for adults has been greatly lacking, and further research is needed.

Why drinking more water might help

The link between drinking water and weight. Drinking more water is a common weight-loss strategy that many people believe in. But what’s the reasoning behind it? It may be that people who choose water over other types of beverages such as sugary drinks may be sparing calories and avoiding weight gain. Or, perhaps drinking a lot of water may help a person feel full and less hungry, which makes them eat less. The study authors point out that drinking other noncaloric beverages that contain water such as tea or coffee may also have a beneficial effect, adding that “whether water consumed in other forms has a similar effect requires studies that consider all sources of fluid intake by non-caloric beverages.

Finding the balance is important. Losing or maintaining a healthy weight requires action in several lifestyle behaviors, including eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding sedentary activities such as watching the television or sitting at the computer for too many hours.

Talk with a doctor. If you are overweight or wanting to maintain a healthy weight, talk with a doctor or healthcare professional about options for optimizing your weight and, ultimately, your health.

(Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.055061)

Jane Hart, MD

Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.

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