Drinking Water To Lose Weight - How And Why It Works

Paul White's picture

Counter-intuitive as it seems, one of the best fitness strategies out there – not to mention one of the cheapest – is drinking water to lose weight. Lots of it. Water is one of the heaviest non-metallic substances on the planet, and though we’ve all heard that we need to gulp down at least eight tall glasses of the stuff every day, nobody does this right before a weigh-in. But the truth is, if we’re trying to lose a few pounds, we need that much water, and more.

It’s easy to understand why need to drink water for general health. Our bodies are about nine-tenths water (our brains are 95% water, so the next time someone accuses you of having mush for brains, consider that they’re not all that wrong), and we need to deplete what we lose through sweat when we exercise (which we should be doing). Our joints require water to move without creaking, and our skin needs water to avoid looking like Willie Nelson. But drinking water to lose weight? What’s up with that?

Well, when you consider that the biological process of burning fat is nothing other than an electro-chemical reaction, it starts to make sense. Our bodies require electrolytes to do this job, and if we aren’t consuming enough water that process starts to shut down. And because we are using stored fat rather than ingested calories for energy when we diet and exercise, we are asking that fat-burning system to work overtime; hence, the need for more water to grease the electrolytic process.

But here’s the real secret. Our digestive systems are just like our muscles in one aspect: they consume calories when in motion. Which means, when we drink water we are using our digestive system to process it. It summons the organs to gather their wastes for disposal, which in itself is a calorie-consuming process. The more we drink, the more that process is set in motion. And if the water we drink on an empty stomach is ice-cold, we expend a quick burst of calories to warm it to body temperature and replace the body heat depleted through contact. In fact, if you drink just two glasses of ice cold water first thing in the morning before breakfast, you’ll would burn an extra 200 calories, which amounts to about a half pound of equivalent fat burn.

Of course, any good news in the weight loss world comes with fine print, and here it is: drinking water to lose weight without diet and exercise will only quench your thirst and not your desire to drop a few pounds.

Drinking water to lose weight

I was reading your post and wanted to make a quick comment: Recent studies have shown that adults only need to consume approx 6 glass of water in a day unless the person is doing major exercising. There is a little known condition where people get addicted to drinking too much water and they literally start to drown themselves from the inside out. There are also a small group of people who have the uncommon inability to sweat - drinking 8-10 glasses of water would then be counter-productive for those people as well because your body only has two ways of getting rid of the water you drink: sweat and urine.
I was drinking in excess of 2 gallons of water a day and I was gaining weight. It was mostly water weight too. I had to conciously force myself to slow down on the water. This is when I learned some new facts about drinking water.

1. Only drink 6 glasses of water a day unless you are doing some heavy workouts and need re-hydrate yourself.
2. Don't over-drink water because it can cause many health problems.
3. When it comes to losing weight, drinking water is not going to be the best trick. I learned that the hard way.
If you focus on eating negative-calorie foods (foods which require your body to use more calories to digest it than the food itself actually contains - for example, say a ppiece of cantaloupe has 50 calories. But it takes your body 100 calories to digest it. Then you just lost 50 calories by eating that piece of canteloupe)for at least 2 snacks and part of one meal, drinking 6 glasses of water a day, and try to get at least some light exercise in (like vaccuming the whole house or mopping/scrubbing the kitchen floor by hand, or power-walking around the block one time, etc), you should be able to lose some fat. Also, remember that muscle weighs more than fat. So just because the scale says a number you may not like, does not automatically mean that you are fat and need to lose weight.
According to the medical weight charts, I am slightly overweight. But my body does not look it, my clothes size don't agree, and I can carry over 300lbs (yes, I am also female. I have a lot of muscle and I am tall.). So I am not actually fat at all - but going only by the scale, you would think otherwise.
My advice is to ignore the scale for all but 1-2 days out of the month and focus more on the neg. calorie foods, less water, and light exercise. That is how I have lost the weight.
Please feel free to read my posted article here as well.
I hope that my comments have come across as being informative and helpful because I certainly meant no offense. I didn't even know half of these facts until a few months ago.

Matthew's picture

Drinking Water for Weight Loss

Hello Virginia,

thank you for your insightful comment. It is interesting, indeed, that you were drinking so much water and gained weight.

I would like to quote a recent study that found that:

"drinking water significantly elevates the resting energy expenditure (REE) in adults, and that low water intake is associated with obesity and lesser success in weight reduction. 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."

Of course, the question is how much water is good for weight loss and overall health, and I think the study's numbers are close to what you suggested: 6 glasses, or 10ml per kg of body weight.

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