You might have noticed that if you’re trying to lose weight, that everyone recommends you drink a lot of water. Everyone. Bad coaches and trainers. Good coaches and trainers. All available websites selling fat loss programs. Drink more water.
But you read somewhere that it was a myth that we should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day? And it was – the original recommendation was a misunderstanding of the original guidelines about how much water (from ALL sources of fluids and ALL foods) you need to function correctly. The implication of this is you don’t need to drink all that water.
Well, the research is in: drink the water.
Replacing Calorie-Laden Fluids
This should be a no-brainer. Various research has shown that obese people can get anywhere from 10% to 25%(!) of their calories from fluids. If you replace Sprite or sweet tea with water, you’re eating less calories. Nice and simple.
Obviously, this is a performance killer. No performance, no exercise, and no exercise, no weight loss! But it’s also an answer you were expecting, so we’ll move on.
Stomachs are pretty amazing. Empty, they’re about the size of a matchbox. Full, they’re about the size of a Big Gulp. (If you’re not familiar with these, they’re the enormous disposable cups of soft drink you can get from a 7-11… Big Gulps are NOT recommended for weight loss!)
However, the stomach isn’t just a passive bag. When it stretches, it triggers a neurological mechanism which we use to sense ‘fullness’, one which sends a message to the brain which says ‘stop eating’. More stretch equals more signal.
What this means is that water immediately before or during a meal increases the stretch, and the stretch increases your sensation of fullness. No matter what you call it – ‘satisfaction’, ‘fullness’, ‘satiety’, and so on – people experience more of it when they drink the water.
The research isn’t clear, but it seems like this effect doesn’t happen if you drink the water normally through the day. Why it's pretty straightforward: water drains straight out of the stomach and into the small intestine in just a few minutes. Even just 15-20 minutes after drinking two glasses of water, almost none of it is left in your stomach.
Increased fat-burning (lipolysis)
Yes, really. No experimental drugs required.
This has been tested in many studies, and it’s a real.
How it works is complicated, but in brief: the nervous system and the endocrine system (i.e. hormones) coordinate to manage your blood volume and your metabolic rate.
It just so happens that drinking water a) increases your blood volume and b) increases the level of activity in a particular part of your sympathetic nervous system. Both of these affect how wasteful, essentially, your body is being with the fuel it gets.
The verdict: Drink up!