It’s the stuff that 60% of our body is made of. Without enough water, you can’t thrive or even survive, and most people don’t drink enough of it. Whether it’s lack of time or simply forgetting to rehydrate, many people walk around in a state of mild dehydration and wonder why they feel tired and unproductive. Not drinking enough can also negatively affect your mood. But there may be another benefit of drinking more water. A study shows that doing so could improve the quality of your diet and even help with weight control.
Diet Quality and Water Intake
Is there a link between drinking water and eating healthier? As part of the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey} study, researchers asked subjects to recall how much water they drank most days of the week. Then they compared it to their nutrient and calorie intake. Their findings?
Adults who boosted their water intake by as little as 1%, a rather modest amount, consumed less saturated fat, sugar, sodium, cholesterol, and fewer calories. Their diet quality improved, and they ate less overall when they boosted their water intake. Although it needs further research, consuming more water might help people eat healthier and that could help with weight control.
The link between drinking more water and eating less sugar is relevant. One of the biggest problems in Western countries is consuming too much sugar. In the study, those who drank 2 to 3 glasses of water each day indulged in 5 to 18 grams less sugar over the same period. That’s a significant drop in sugar intake! The calories they took in also dropped by 68 to 205. One benefit of drinking water is its calorie-free and contains no sugar.
How Reliable is This Study?
It’s important to always look at the strengths and weaknesses of a study. The strength of this study is its size; researchers looked at data on 18,300 adults, making it a large study. The downside is the study only shows an association between drinking more water and consuming fewer calories and less saturated fat, sugar, sodium, and cholesterol. It doesn’t prove that drinking more water was responsible for the change in diet quality. However, the association held across gender and age groups. Another concern is that people aren’t always reliable when they report how much water they drink.
In support of the study’s findings, other research shows drinking more water reduces total calorie intake, but the results were strongest in middle-aged and older adults. Another study found that middle-aged adults who were overweight and drank more water while eating a lower calorie diet lost 44% more weight relative to those who kept their water intake the same. Other research suggests that drinking water first thing in the morning before breakfast reduces calorie consumption during that meal. Morning is one of the best times to drink water since you’re mildly dehydrated in the morning after 8 hours without drinking fluid.
Another study of 50 overweight women found those who drank 500 milliliters of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 8 weeks lost more weight and body fat. The participants also felt less hungry. In this study, drinking more water reduced the desire to eat and boosted body weight and fat loss, all good things if you’re trying to slim down.
Replace Sugary Drinks with Water
Irrespective of whether drinking water boosts weight loss, replacing sugary drinks with glasses of water is one of the smartest moves you can make for your health. You’ll take in fewer calories and also upgrade your metabolic health while lowering your risk of weight gain. Not only do soft drinks contain calories, but there’s also some evidence they increase the desire to eat foods high in carbohydrates. Research also shows people who consume 1 to 2 servings of sugar-sweetened drinks each day boosted their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26%. With pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes being so common, a change like this on a population level could have a big impact.
What if you don’t like water? Add herbs or fruit slices to your water to infuse them with flavor. Then let herb or fruit infused water sit overnight to maximize its flavor before drinking. It’s easy to forget to drink water, so keep a stainless-steel bottle filled with water with you at all times and sip on it. Turn it into a daily habit! You’ll soon find you don’t miss those soft drinks.
The Bottom Line
Consuming more water may upgrade the quality of your diet and help you consume fewer calories. Although this may offer some weight loss advantage, simply drinking more water probably won’t be enough to help you meet your weight-loss objectives. You’ll get the most benefits by replacing beverages with sugar with water. Doing so will reduce your calorie and sugar intake, and if you’re eating a healthy diet and moving your body, it should have an impact.
If those health benefits aren’t enough, studies show that drinking more water may lower the risk of bladder and colon cancer. How? Drinking water dilutes the toxins that enter your bladder, so they have less contact with the bladder wall. Plus, consuming water helps food move more quickly through your colon and out of your body. Therefore, toxins in feces have less contact with the walls of the colon. So there’s more than one reason to drink more water, and if you drink tap water, it won’t cost you a thing.
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