Chances are, if you’re a dieting veteran, you’ve heard the age-old advice to drink lots of water on your medical weight loss plan. You may have wondered if water has some special powers to magically melt away the pounds. You also may have wanted a more specific definition of what “lots of water” really is. Here, we crack some myths and give you the most up-to-date water wisdom:
- Yes, it may help you lose weight… A recent preliminary study showed that adults who drank two cups of water before meals consumed fewer calories during those meals. Over the duration of the 12-week study, the water drinkers lost 15.5 pounds, compared with 11 for the control group. Even better, many kept the weight off for a year following the study!
- …but there’s no special magic to it. Despite the supernatural aura water has taken on for many dieters, science has yet to show any complex mechanism for its effectiveness. In fact, it likely works in a very simple and logical way: Drinking more water just before you eat fills you up and helps you eat less. The magic is in how easy it is to do!
- How much is enough? This isn’t an easy question to answer. Generally, overall fluid needs are calculated using your body weight, so those who weigh more need more water. Of course, if you’re exercising or simply out in hot weather, you’ll also need to replenish any fluids you’ve lost through perspiration. The general rule of thumb we’ve probably all heard is eight to 10 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This is probably a fine maintenance level for most healthy people. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, upping this level a bit may be helpful. In addition to drinking water when you’re thirsty, and throughout the day, make sure you’re consuming it just before you eat to help reap any weight-loss benefits. For maximum benefits, be sure to consume plain water as opposed to flavored waters that contain artificial flavors and sugar substitutes.
- What if water isn’t your favorite drink? As a nation, our intake of beverages sweetened with sugar has increased dramatically since the 1970s. It’s no wonder we’ve lost the taste for good old plain water. If you’re not a water fan, try upping your intake gradually by one cup a day and let your taste buds adjust. You can also pep up your water by squeezing a fresh lime or lemon into it, or adding a few tablespoons of crushed watermelon, which adds lots of flavor with minimal calories.
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