Does drinking water lose weight?

Drinking more water is often recommended as a useful aid for losing weight. But does it really help you lose weight? Let’s take a look at the evidence.

How could drinking water help with weight loss?

There are a few ways that increasing water intake could potentially promote weight loss:

  • It increases feelings of fullness. Drinking water helps fill up the stomach, which can make you feel fuller and eat less at meals.
  • It boosts metabolism. Some research suggests that drinking cold water can temporarily speed up metabolism.
  • It flushes out toxins. Staying well hydrated helps the kidneys efficiently remove waste and toxins from the body.
  • It reduces water retention. Being dehydrated can cause the body to retain more water, leading to bloating and water weight.

So by keeping the body hydrated, drinking more water may decrease calorie intake, increase calorie burning, minimize water retention, and ultimately facilitate weight loss.

What does the research say?

A number of studies have looked at the effects of increased water consumption on weight loss:

  • A 2015 analysis of 11 studies with over 4,000 participants found that people who drank 1-1.5 liters of water per day lost about 2 kg (4.4 lbs) more weight over 12 weeks than people who drank less water.
  • A 2016 study in 50 overweight women found that increasing water intake by 1 liter per day resulted in an extra 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of weight lost over 12 months.
  • A 2015 study found that participants who drank 500 ml (17 oz) of water before each meal lost 44% more weight over 12 weeks compared to those who did not.

So the current research suggests that increasing daily water intake, especially before meals, can lead to modest weight loss over time.

How much water should you drink for weight loss?

Most studies showing weight loss benefits used water intakes of around 1-2 liters (34-68 oz) per day. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume 2.7 liters (91 oz) of total fluids per day and men consume 3.7 liters (125 oz).

Here are some tips for getting enough water in:

  • Drink a glass of water with each meal and snack.
  • Sip water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee throughout the day.
  • Drink a glass of water before eating to help fill you up.
  • Carry a water bottle with you as a reminder to keep drinking.
  • Choose water over sugary drinks like sodas, juices, and sweetened tea.
  • Add slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or watermelon to add some flavor.
  • Aim to drink around 2 liters (68 oz) of water per day.

Are there any risks to drinking more water?

Drinking extra water is generally safe, but there are a few risks to be aware of:

  • Water intoxication – Drinking an extreme amount of water in a short time can cause an imbalance in electrolytes, leading to swelling in the brain and other issues. This is very rare and almost always only occurs from drinking many liters within a few hours.
  • Hyponatremia – People with certain medical conditions like heart failure must be careful not to overhydrate, as it can exacerbate hyponatremia (low blood sodium).
  • Urinary issues – Increasing fluid intake can make you urinate more often, which can be problematic if you already have overactive bladder issues.

For most healthy people, drinking 2-3 liters of water spread throughout the day is not associated with any risks.

Does the temperature of the water matter?

Some research indicates that drinking cold water may provide slightly more weight loss benefits. Possible reasons include:

  • Cold water requires more energy (calories) for the body to heat it up to body temperature.
  • Drinking cold water can increase fat burning during the time required to warm up the water.
  • Cold water may be more refreshing, making you more likely to drink more.

However, the differences in the few studies that investigated temperature were small. So while there may be a slight metabolic advantage to colder water, the most important factor is likely the total amount consumed.

Should you drink water before or after eating?

Evidence suggests that drinking water before meals is more helpful for weight loss than drinking afterward.

In one study, dieters who drank 500 ml (17 oz) of water 30 minutes before each meal lost 44% more weight over 12 weeks.

Possible reasons why drinking water before meals helps:

  • It helps increase feelings of fullness during the meal.
  • It prevents mistaking thirst for hunger.
  • It helps keep you hydrated so you eat less.

So to maximize the weight loss benefits, try to drink 1-2 glasses of water 30-60 minutes before eating.

Should you replace drinks with water?

It’s best to meet your fluid needs by drinking plain water rather than high-calorie beverages. Things to avoid include:

  • Sugary drinks like soda, juice, sweet tea, sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages which are high in calories
  • Diet soda containing artificial sweeteners

Studies show that people who drink diet sodas don’t necessarily lose weight. Artificial sweeteners may increase cravings for sugary foods.

So for the purpose of weight loss, you’ll want to stick with water as your main beverage and avoid liquid calories as much as possible.

How does water help weight loss compared to other drinks?

Here’s a comparison of how drinking plain water stacks up against other beverage options for weight loss:

Beverage Calories Benefits for Weight Loss
Water 0 Helps fill you up, no calories, flushes out toxins
Unsweetened tea ~5 per cup Antioxidants, hydration with minimal calories
Coffee ~5 per cup Provides energy, useful before exercise
Diet soda 0 No calories but may increase cravings
Fruit juice 120 per cup Vitamins but high in sugar and calories
Sports drinks 60-70 per cup Electrolytes to replenish exercise losses
Soda 140 per can No nutritional value and extremely high in sugar
Alcohol 100-150 per serving High calories, inhibits fat burning

As you can see plain water is clearly the best option, providing hydration without any calories or drawbacks. For most people focusing on weight loss, water should make up the majority of fluid intake.

Does warm or hot water help you lose weight?

There is limited research comparing the effects of cold vs hot water on weight loss. However, a few studies have looked at the potential benefits of drinking hot water:

  • One small study in 14 overweight adults found drinking 500 ml (17 oz) of hot water instead of cold water increased the number of calories burned by about 23 calories.
  • Drinking warm water with meals may aid digestion, especially in those with gastroparesis.
  • Warm water can be soothing for the stomach and may reduce cramps or constipation.

Overall the impact is likely minimal. The temperature of water does not seem to greatly affect weight loss provided adequate amounts are consumed.

Should you drink water when you’re not thirsty?

Yes, you should try to drink water even when you do not feel thirsty if you are attempting to lose weight. Here’s why:

  • By the time you feel thirsty, you are likely already dehydrated.
    Drinking water will rehydrate you.
  • Being dehydrated can mimic feelings of hunger, so staying hydrated helps avoid overeating.
  • Cool water can provide a feeling of fullness even without drinking a large amount.

Aim to drink water throughout the day by having a glass with each meal and before, during or after exercise. Carry a bottle as a reminder. This habit can pay off through better health and gradual weight loss over time.

Does carbonated or sparkling water help lose weight?

Plain sparkling water is just as good as plain still water for weight loss. The bubbles add visual appeal and carbonation provides a different mouthfeel, which encourages people to drink more.

Look for unsweetened seltzer, club soda or sparkling water without added sugars, sweeteners or sodium. Avoid “vitamin water”, tonic water and mineral water which can contain calories and sugar.

Flavored sparkling waters like La Croix are fine too. Just be sure to count the calories if the flavoring adds any.

Can drinking water help remove toxins?

Yes, staying hydrated helps the kidneys and liver effectively filter waste and toxins out of your blood. Potential benefits include:

  • Water reduces concentration of toxins in the blood and helps flush them out in urine.
  • It assists the kidneys in filtering waste products from the blood into urine.
  • Being dehydrated overloads the liver with toxins, so staying hydrated may improve liver function.
  • Drinking water may reduce hangovers, which are partly caused by toxins from alcohol metabolism.

For those trying to lose weight, flushing out toxins assists the body in operating efficiently and can help minimize water retention under the skin.

Can lemon water help you lose weight?

Lemon water may help promote weight loss in a few ways:

  • Adding lemon can make water taste better, encouraging you to drink more.
  • The citrus flavor may reduce cravings for sweets and snacks.
  • The pectin fiber in lemons can help fill you up.
  • Lemon has an antioxidant called polyphenol that may mildly boost metabolism.

That being said, plain water is just as effective. The effects of lemon water on weight loss are small. Drinking it improves hydration but not enough to create a big difference in weight by itself.

Does water flush fat out of the body?

Drinking more water does not directly flush out fat. However, it can assist in the process by:

  • Increasing fat breakdown with a slightly higher metabolism.
  • Reducing water retention under the skin.
  • Minimizing overeating and snacking.
  • Giving the kidneys more fluid to eliminate waste.

Additionally staying hydrated makes physical activity easier. Exercise along with proper nutrition is what burns body fat. But adequate water intake supports this process for more effective fat loss.

Will water get rid of belly fat or love handles?

Water alone will not specifically target belly fat or love handles. To lose fat in these problem areas requires full body fat loss through calorie deficit.

That being said, drinking enough water may help reduce bloating and puffiness to minimize the appearance of belly fat and create a flatter looking stomach.

Can water help burn belly fat overnight?

Drinking water does not burn significant amounts of belly fat overnight. However, being well hydrated may subtly help by:

  • Keeping food moving through your digestive tract to minimize bloating.
  • Aiding liver function to metabolize fat.
  • Reducing cortisol levels, a hormone that drives fat storage if elevated.

While water can support your weight loss efforts, losing belly fat comes down to an overall calorie deficit through diet and exercise over time.

Does hot water burn fat?

Despite some claims, drinking hot water does not burn a significant amount of fat or calories:

  • One study found 500 ml of hot water burned around 23 extra calories.
  • However, the body cools hot liquids as they are processed.
  • The small extra calories burned via water temperature get canceled out when drinking cold water later.

So in the end, hot water does not create enough of a thermogenic effect to matter. The temperature of water you drink does not have a real impact on fat loss.

Can drinking cold water help lose weight?

Here are some of the proposed ways that cold water may potentially promote fat loss:

  • Burns slightly more calories warming the water to body temperature.
  • Increases brown fat activity which may raise daily energy expenditure.
  • Reduces water retention under the skin.
  • More refreshing so it may increase hydration.

That said, the effect of water temperature on weight loss is small. Cold water does not burn many extra calories. Drinking adequate total water intake is what matters most.

Does drinking water speed up metabolism?

Drinking cold water may provide a small temporary boost in metabolic rate, but the overall effects are minimal. Water contributes to weight loss in other ways:

  • It increases feelings of fullness and reduces appetite.
  • Well hydrated bodies utilize fat more efficiently.
  • Water flushes toxins and reduces water retention.
  • Drinking water often replaces high-calorie beverages.

While staying hydrated can assist metabolism, the impact is not overly significant. Water helps weight loss mainly by controlling hunger and hydrating the body.


Here are the key takeaways on water and weight loss:

  • Drinking more water, especially before meals, can help increase weight loss.
  • Aim for around 2 liters (68 oz) of water daily to reap the benefits.
  • Drink water instead of sugary beverages and limit alcohol.
  • Cold water may slightly boost metabolism and aid hydration.
  • Plain water is best – avoid sweeteners, sugars and sodium in flavored waters.
  • Carry water with you and sip it throughout the day to stay hydrated.

While water alone won’t make you magically lose weight, it is an excellent addition to an overall healthy lifestyle. Drinking water before meals helps with appetite control for fewer calories. Staying well hydrated provides the body with the fluid it needs to function properly.

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