Drinking water — and lots of it — has long been touted as a great way to help you reach your weight loss goals. But could downing just one extra glass of H20 at each meal be enough to set you up for success? Science says yes! But you don’t need to carry around a two-gallon jug like a gym rat just to reap water’s health benefits. It turns out that adding just three more cups of water a day could help you consume 1,400 fewer calories per week, according to one recent study.
Here’s what the research means for you — and how little tweaks could make staying hydrated a little more effortless.
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The Benefits of Drinking Water … for Your Waistline
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign compared the eating and drinking habits of more than 18,000 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2012. On average, people drank roughly 4.2 cups of plain water a day. Sounds kind of low, right? In fact, people were consuming about 12.4 cups of water in the form of beverages and foods combined — the 4.2 cups of plain water represented just 30 percent of their total water intake. This is actually on par with the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation of at least 2.7 liters (11.4 cups) of total water from all beverages and foods for women, and 3.7 liters (15.6 cups) for men. Yet, additional analysis from the researchers suggests we might be better off if we sipped even more agua.
When the researchers used a mathematical simulation to predict what would happen if people drank just a little more water in a day, they found that increasing daily plain water consumption by one, two and three cups, without changing anything else in people’s diets, would result in consuming 68, 137 and 205 fewer calories, respectively. Not only would people consume fewer calories, but researchers project that they’d also eat less junk food, sugar, sodium and saturated fat.
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So why do you eat less after getting a little more hydrated? The researchers believe a couple of factors might be at play here. When you drink more water, you’re likely passing on other caloric beverages you would have normally drank, says study author Ruopeng An, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Or, it could be that it helps you feel fuller so you aren’t tempted to snack, he says.
“Replacing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption with tap or bottled water consumption could be an effective strategy to reduce daily calorie intake,” says An.
4 Easy Ways to Drink More Water Every Day
How much water should you drink? You only need to up your intake by 24 ounces (that’s three cups) a day to potentially reap the benefits of consuming 1,400 fewer calories a week. Here’s how to fit it in where you can get it in.
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1. Start your day right. Before you get in bed at night, fill up a big glass of water and place it on your nightstand. When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, you’ll be ready to start your day with a refreshing, and much needed, chug of water, suggests Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Jim White, RDN, ACSM-HFS. “The body is usually depleted in the morning and needs rehydration.”
2. Set a pocket reminder. Waterlogged and other smartphone apps can help you boost your water intake by giving you daily goals and reminding you to drink throughout the day, says White. Plus, you can sync it with your other tracking apps for a full picture of your health.
3. Buy bigger water bottles. Instead of sipping out of tiny cups or small disposable water bottles, try keeping a larger reusable bottle with you throughout the day, suggests White.
If you’re into DIY, buy a bottle that’s 32 ounces or more and write time goals on it so you can keep pace for the day, suggests White. Or, buy a pre-made bottle that has an hourly timeline and motivational sayings to keep you on track.
4. Make an infusion. Not a fan of tap water? Add some flavor by soaking your favorite fruits in water, suggests White. Fruit-infused water or seltzer has a subtle fruit flavor without all the sugar found in juice.