Does Water Consumption Help You Lose Weight?

Does Water Help You Lose Weight?
Does Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight?

Water.  Yes, conventional wisdom often suggests that drinking more water can help you lose weight.  One of the weight loss tips at my blog by a guest author was to drink cold water to speed up metabolism.  Of course, water like anything else when consumed in excess can be dangerous.  As I learned early on in a pharmacology class many years ago, the dose makes the poison.

One of the first patients that I saw on a psychiatric ward was admitted for delirium.  What was the cause?  He had a severe hyponatremia (low sodium levels) secondary to consuming an excessive amount of water.  From what I can recall, the patient had attempted to “purify his system” by drinking 4 x 5 gallon jugs of mineral water.  I’m not sure how far into that attempt he managed to get, but the outcome was the same.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published a recent systematic review on the impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status.  Specifically, they included all relevant clinical trials, epidemiologic studies, and intervention studies which were available in the English language.

Fun Facts About Water:

  • Humans can survive just 2-4 days without water
  • Water comprises 60% of our body weight

Does Removing Water from Meals Affect Energy Intake?

Yes.  From the current literature that the study authors cite, studies typically find a reduction in calories when water is added to the diet.  Conversely, meal energy increased by 8.7% when water was removed.

Does Substituting Water for a Caloric Beverage Affect Energy Intake?

No.  Total energy intake was 14.9% higher from three studies when water was substituted for milk.

Water vs. Diet Beverages:

The study results were generally inconclusive, but one study found total energy intake increased by 13.8% when women drank diet lemonade on day 2 instead of water.

Intervention Studies for Water and Weight Loss:

The researchers only located four studies which explored drinking water as a weight loss intervention.  Two of the studies were of older adults while the other two included school-age children.

[box type=”important”]When combined with weight-loss training in older adults, the group assigned to drink water before meals lost 5.4 kg compared to 3.3 in the group that did not drink water before meals after 12 weeks. (-5.4 +/- 0.6 kg versus -3.3 +/- 0.5 kg,P = 0.01). [/box]

In a study involving German children, those schools that had educational and environmental interventions to increase water intake had a lower adjusted risk of overweight children compared to schools that did not institute this intervention (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.48–0.98).  Overall, the students at the schools with the intervention drank 1.1 glasses of water per day more than at the other schools.


The study authors noted significant gaps in the literature and the need for additional studies.

From the study authors:

“These findings from clinical trials, along with those from epidemiologic and intervention studies, suggest water has a potentially important role to play in reducing energy intake, and consequently in obesity prevention.”

Imagine that!  Look no further than free drinking water to help reduce energy intake and prevent obesity.  If there was a diet product that worked as well as plain old water, imagine how expensive it would be?


  1. Daniels MC, Popkin BM.Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2010 Sep;68(9):505-21.

12 thoughts on “Does Water Consumption Help You Lose Weight?

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  • May 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    This is a useful news for people who want to lose weight

  • November 25, 2010 at 3:02 am

    The potion for losing that excess body fat is all around you. It covers two thirds of the planet. If you eat right and exercise at the intensity, frequency and duration proper for you, but still can’t get rid of a little paunch here and there, you’re probably just not drinking enough water. Drinking a lot of water can increase your metabolism and get rid of those excess fats.

  • November 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    It was found also that people who drank water before meals ate an average of 75 fewer calories at that meal. This may not seem like much, but if you ate 75 fewer calories at lunch and dinner for the next year, you could lose about 14½ pounds! so amazing isn’t it?

  • November 3, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Research does suggest that drinking plenty of water may help you lose weight. Some studies showed that people who drank two glasses of water 20 to 30 minutes before every meal lost weight more quickly initially and lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t.

  • October 26, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Water is one of the best tools for weight loss, first of all because it often replaces high-calorie drinks like soda and juice and alcohol with a drink that doesn’t have any calories. But it’s also a great appetite suppressant, and often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. Water has no fat, no calories, no carbs, no sugar. Drink plenty to help your weight-loss regimen.

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  • August 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I’ve always felt that water doesn’t directly help you lose weight but I do think that we don’t drink enough water so when we’re actually dehydrated we go for the food which causes us to gain weight. Drink more water and eat less and you’ll lose weight. Also, avoid sugary drinks like soda. People gain pounds a year from drinking soda..

    • August 30, 2010 at 11:06 pm

      Many, thanks for sharing your thoughts about water and weight loss. There’s certainly plenty of empty calories in sugary drinks.

    • September 1, 2010 at 9:32 am

      Mandy, you are exactly right on how dehydration can imitate the feelings of hunger. Nutritionists suggest drinking a glass of water when you first feel the hunger pings and wait five to ten minutes to see if the hunger feelings subside. If they do then drink more water. If you still feel hungry, eat a healthy snack.

      • September 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm

        Totally agree with Menshealth99. That’s something I try to do now whenever I feel hungry. The hunger usually goes away after one glass of water.


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