What you choose to drink throughout the day can benefit (or completely undermine) your weight loss efforts.
“Often people eat healthy but don’t think about their drinks,” she says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and National Media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “They may be drinking many sodas a day, juices and flavored drinks that all contain carbohydrates and sugars, which add calories over time.”
On the other hand, if you make healthier beverage choices, your weight loss can take a positive turn.
“Once you eliminate high-calorie beverages from your day, you may quickly see a change in weight just by cutting out any calorie-dense beverages you tend to drink a lot of each day,” adds Ehsani.
And the best drink you can drink for weight loss is water.
“The one drink that I would say we need the most that’s completely free, accessible, has no calories, added sugar, or added flavors—and that your body needs more than any other drink out there—is water,” Ehsani says.
How water helps you lose weight
There are many reasons why you should drink more water.
“First of all, our bodies are mostly made up of water, so we need it every day,” adds Ehsani. “It’s essential to our overall health and well-being. It helps move things along! It removes waste from your body through your digestive tract and can help prevent constipation. It can help you deflate,” she says.
And specifically for weight loss, there is scientific evidence to support its benefits.
“Studies show that drinking enough water will help you lose weight because it can prevent you from overeating,” says Ehsani. “If you’re dehydrated and you’re eating a meal, you’re more likely to mistake thirst for hunger and keep eating, when in fact you may just be thirsty.”
He adds that studies have also shown that those who drank water before meals ate less at mealtimes, as adequate water intake was found to reduce appetite in older adults.
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How much water should you drink to reap its weight-loss benefits?
So how much do you need? Of course, you’ve probably heard that it’s eight glasses a day, but the recommendation is actually more than that.
“The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend 11 ½ cups a day for women and 15 ½ cups a day for men,” says Ehsani.
If you’re nowhere near that number, Ehsani suggests starting slow and working your way up.
“Drinking only four to five cups now? Aim for at least six glasses a day and set reminders in your home and workplace to remind yourself to drink,” she says. “Leave it sitting on your desk and set calendar or clock reminders. Download an app that helps remind you and track your water cups for the day.”
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He notes that you can also check the color of your urine to see if you’re drinking enough.
“If it’s dark like apple juice, it’s a sign you’re dehydrated and you need to start sipping,” says Ehsani.
And think about the last time you went to the bathroom.
“It’s been over 4 hours? You’re probably dehydrated,” she adds. “Hydrated people use the toilet every two to four hours.”