Can Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight?

Pouring pitcher of water
webphotographeer/E+/Getty Images

The many health benefits of drinking water are often overlooked. But don't underestimate the importance of what may be the healthiest beverage of all.

Why Water Should Be Your Go-To Beverage

Given that sugar-sweetened beverages have been identified as a leading cause of the obesity epidemic, it makes sense to eliminate those from your diet entirely. And while you’re at it, get rid of the high-calorie, high-end coffee drinks.

And the sports drinks and fruit juices, which are usually just “liquid sugar” by another name. Black coffee and unsweetened tea will be okay if you need your caffeine, as they are very low in calories (and coffee drinking has been shown to have health benefits).

But “water, water everywhere” should become your mantra, and here’s why: water has no calories. Zero. Nada. Compare that to the hundreds of (wasted) calories that you could easily consume drinking sodas and other sugared beverages, and you can see how easily the balance will tilt in your favor.

Anecdotally speaking, since men tend to lose weight faster than women, it is not uncommon for me to see my male patients drop an average of 12 to 15 pounds just by eliminating sugared beverages and other calorie-laden drinks from their diet.

And plain water has many, many health benefits. Researchers have found that drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before you have a meal can make you feel fuller and thus more likely to eat less, thereby reducing calorie intake.

Staying hydrated throughout the day will make you more alert, help you think more clearly, and make you feel less fatigued. All of that can lead to making better dietary choices as well. As an added bonus, drinking enough water throughout the day can help in the prevention of recurrent kidney stones.

How Much Is Adequate?

Most recommendations call for drinking at least eight glasses (64 fluid ounces) of water per day. However, a good rule of thumb is to drink enough water throughout the day so that the color of your urine turns pale or clear. That way you will know physiologically that you are getting what your own body needs. And don't forget that if you wait until you're thirsty to reach for the water glass, then your body is already way behind on its hydration requirements.

Add Your Own Twist

For those who say they do not like the taste of water alone, try squirting a bit of lemon or lime juice in your water. It does wonders for the palate!

Also, don't forget the many flavor (and potential health) possibilities of herbal tea. Be sure that the herbal tea you choose has no caffeine if you want it to count toward your daily water intake.


Davy et al. Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults. J Am Diet Assoc 2008;108:1236-1239.

Qaseem A, Dallas P, Forciea MA, et al. Dietary and pharmacologic management to prevent recurrent nephrolithiasis in adults: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med 2014;161:659-667.

Continue Reading