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Water and Weight Loss

Woman drinking water


Nearly one-third of all Americans are overweight or obese, and thus at risk for diabetes, heart disease and a host of other negative health consequences associated with extra pounds.


Eating healthy foods and getting some exercise is common – and effective – counsel if you’re trying to lose weight, but you may be overlooking a simple, cost-effective way to aid in your efforts to shed some pounds.


UW Health clinical nutritionist Wendy Hahn says when constructing a healthy diet, you shouldn’t underestimate the health benefits of a glass of water. Actually, more like 10 glasses of water.


Half Your Weight in Water


“Our recommendations are consistent with the Institute of Medicine, which is 10 to 12 glasses of water per day,” she says, adding that a glass is eight ounces. “Another general guideline is drink half your weight in ounces. So for a 200-pound person, that’s about 100 ounces” – or 12 glasses – “of fluids per day.”


Hahn works in UW Health’s Surgical Weight Management program, and says that many of her patients, like most people, operate in a water deficit.


“Most of us don't consume enough water, and there are various factors that prevent us from getting enough water - our job, our lifestyles,” she says. “We don't have time to drink water throughout the day.”


But making the time for proper water consumption is well worth the effort, says Hahn, because it helps the body’s engine run smoothly and efficiently.


“Water improves every bodily function, potentially allowing you to burn more calories,” she says.


Thirsty, Not Hungry


Or avoid those calories entirely. Remember that last, intense craving you had? Maybe the one you satisfied with a fistful of potato chips? You might not have been hungry at all.


“Many of us mistake thirst for hunger, so we reach for food when our bodies are really signaling thirst,” Hahn says.


And in choosing to respond to that signal by drinking a glass of water, you’re substituting a beneficial thirst-quenching option for a less healthy choice.


“Water usually displaces other calorically-dense beverages, such as sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol,” Hahn says.


Contrary to the dozens of click-bait internet headlines that tout water as the latest in a long series of “miracle” cures. In particular, she cautions against "water fasts" that suggest days-long stretches during which you eliminate nearly everything but water from your diet.


"They're not recommended and not evidence-based," Hahn says.


Water isn't a magic elixir, Hahn says, but rather “one piece of the puzzle. Don't count on water alone to facilitate weight loss, but it can work in concert with other factors,” including eating less, eating better and exercising more.


Tips for Increasing Water Consumption

  1. Have water as an appetizer. Drink a glass of water before, during, and after meals.
  2. Drink coffee and tea. They have water in them, as well, and count toward your daily fluid intake.
  3. Eat foods high in water content. Fill your diet with fruits and vegetables, which are water-rich foods.
  4. Snack on water. The next time you want a between-meal snack, drink a glass of water instead. It might be what your body really wants.
  5. Substitute water for soda, sugar-sweetened juices and alcohol.

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Date Published: 07/13/2016

News tag(s):  healthy living

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