Can Switching to Water Make You Lose Weight?
Consuming fewer calories than you burn each day will help you lose weight. Since water is calorie-free, switching from high-calorie drinks to water can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. For safe and effective weight loss, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that people who are overweight or obese reduce their daily energy intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day, which should yield a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
This month, your resolution is to make water your main beverage. I’m not suggesting that you cut out all other beverages (although that would be great), but a healthy goal is to cut back liquid calories to no more than 10 percent of your total daily calories.
Since water helps you feel full, drinking water before a meal can help you consume fewer calories when you eat. Some people mistake thirst for hunger and eat when they’re actually thirsty. Mayo Clinic reports that men should consume at least 13 cups of fluids per day and women should drink at least 9 cups. Meeting these minimum fluid requirements with water is beneficial for weight loss.
Water vs. Soda
One can of regular soda contains about 150 calories versus no calories in water. Soda is high in sugar; drinking soda regularly may actually cause your body to crave even more sugar. A 2008 review published in “Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews” found that rats can actually become dependent, or addicted, to sugar, which may translate to humans in certain circumstances. If you drink about three cans of regular soda each day, switching from soda to water can help you lose almost 1 pound per week.
Water vs. Diet Soda
Although most diet sodas are calorie-free, switching from diet soda to water may also help you achieve a healthier body weight. A 2010 review published in the “Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine” found an association between diet sodas flavored with artificial sweeteners and weight gain. Another 2010 review published in the “International Journal of Pediatric Obesity” found a link between artificially-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children. Since diet sodas taste sweet, they may cause you to crave more sugar, as with regular sodas.
Water vs. Juice
Although most juices contain vitamin C, they are also high in sugar. Many fruit juices contain 120 to 180 calories per cup, depending on the type of juice you drink. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting juice consumption to 4 to 6 ounces per day for infants older than 6 months and children or diluting the juice with water. Switching from juice to water or diluting your juice with water can help you reduce your calorie intake for successful weight loss.
Find ways to make water wonderful
If you or your kids find water just too boring, kick it up a notch:
- Float slices of orange, lemon or lime in a pitcher of water to infuse it with citrus flavors.
- Mint, lemon balm and ginger are delicious additions to water, too.
- For something more sophisticated, try a few rounds of cucumber in your water.
- Miss the carbonation of soda? Buy sparkling water, or skip the plastic bottles and get a home carbonation system to make your own for about 25 cents per liter.
- Need electrolytes after a strenuous workout? Skip the sugary sports drinks and stir a vitamin packet into your water bottle instead.
- Craving caffeine? Dunk a tea bag in your water – iced tea costs only pennies to make, tastes great, and still clocks in at 0 calories, assuming that you don’t add sugar.
- Make a pitcher of caffeine-free tea to sip throughout the day. Dozens are available with mint and natural fruit flavors that have their own subtle sweetness.
- Green tea is a particularly healthful choice, supplying natural compounds that may help prevent cancer, reduce heart disease and delay aging.
As you water your garden to prevent drooping this summer, remember to do the same for yourself. Drinking six glasses a day – whether flavored with fruit or teabags, or left pure and natural – will keep you feeling perky and well hydrated without adding unwanted calories. I’ll drink to that.
Water is essential for your good health. It keeps your blood flowing, provides cushioning for your joints, transports nutrients into your cells and flushes out waste. In the hot summer months, drinking water is especially important – drink too little and you could find yourself dehydrated and overheated.
As another health bonus, water is great for weight control. Simply put, water takes up space. When you drink a glass before a meal, it can make you feel less hungry, functioning as an appetite suppressant. Drinking even two glasses of water a day will speed up your metabolism and help you burn calories faster.