Can Water Help You Lose Weight?
The word ‘dieting’ may bring up ideas of calorie restriction and what you can’t eat. But it doesn’t have to. By eating quality food and focusing on what you can eat, or in this case drink, dieting can become a liberating experience.
“Pleasure” and “drink” together don’t always have to mean unhealthy.
As one of many examples, consider infused water.
What is Infused Water?
Infused water is water that has been enhanced with the flavors of fresh fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs. It’s also known as detox water, fruit-infused water, or fruit flavored water.
This article specifically defines infused water to be what is made at home, not anything store-bought.
Infusion differs from juices or smoothies in that just the flavors of the fruit seep through. Thus, it tastes better than water alone, but not at the expense of excess calories or industrial sugar.
How does infused water lead to weight loss?
In the Journal Obesity, a women’s study concluded that “absolute and relative increases in drinking water were associated with significant loss of body weight and fat over time, independent of covarieties.”1 Covarieites is just a way of saying that diet, food composition, physical activity, and sociodemographics had no correlation with the weight loss data observed.
Another study “established the role of water induced thermogenesis in weight reduction of overweight subjects.”2
These findings seem to apply to children as well. “Consuming the recommended daily amount of water for children could result in an energy expenditure equivalent to an additional weight loss of about 1.2 kg per year. These findings reinforce the concept of water-induced REE elevation shown in adults, suggesting that water drinking could assist overweight children in weight loss or maintenance, and may warrant emphasis in dietary guidelines against the obesity epidemic.”3
These studies can be partially explained by a rise in metabolism that water gives but may also be because water can reduce your appetite. If you drink water before a meal, for instance, you may eat less.
Another way of explaining weight loss is to look at what other beverages water is replacing in the diet. One study concludes, “our findings suggest that frequent consumption of sugar sweetened beverages may be associated with larger weight gain and increased risk of type 2 diabetes”4
These researchers are not the only ones. “Sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly soda, provide little nutritional benefit and increase weight gain and probably the risk of diabetes, fractures, and dental caries.”5
Furthermore, “Because of the large amount of calories in sugar-sweetened soft drinks and the relationship between consumption of these drinks and weight gain, reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption may be the best single opportunity to curb the obesity epidemic.”6
For these reasons, infused water makes a great choice for weight loss.
You won’t go hungry, as infused water is not meant to displace the food you would normally eat, but rather supplement it.
Furthermore, if you struggle with hydration, or don’t like the flavor of normal water and turn to refined-sugar sweetened beverages like soda, then infused water can provide a better alternative. If you’d like to know more, read about my own journey with infused water here: Infuse your water, Infuse your life
1. Stookey, Jodi D., Florence Constant, Barry M. Popkin, and Christopher D. Gardner. "Drinking Water Is Associated With Weight Loss in Overweight Dieting Women Independent of Diet and Activity." Obesity 16, no. 11 (2008): 2481-488. doi:10.1038/oby.2008.409. p. 2481.
2. Vij, Vinu A. "Effect of ‘Water Induced Thermogenesis’ on Body Weight, Body Mass Index and Body Composition of Overweight Subjects." Journal Of Clinical And Diagnostic Research 7, no. 9 (September 10, 2013): 1894-896. doi:10.7860/jcdr/2013/5862.3344. p. 1896.
3. Dubnov-Raz, G., N. W. Constantini, H. Yariv, S. Nice, and N. Shapira. "Influence of Water Drinking on Resting Energy Expenditure in Overweight Children." International Journal of Obesity 35, no. 10 (2011): 1295-300. doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.130. p. 1295.
4. Schulze, M.b., J.e. Manson, and D.s. Ludwig. "Sugar-sweetened Beverages, Weight Gain, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Young and Middle-aged Women." JAMA 292, no. 8 (August 25, 2004): 927-34. p. 934.
5. Malik, Vasanti S., Matthias B. Schulze, and Frank B. Hu. "Intake of Sugar-sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 84, no. 2 (2006): 274-88. doi:10.1093/ajcn/84.2.274. p. 286.
6. Apovian, Caroline M. "Sugar-Sweetened Soft Drinks, Obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes." JAMA 292, no. 8 (2004): 978-79. doi:10.1001/jama.292.8.978. p. 979.