What’s a great way to maintain your weight over the holidays? Apparently, it’s drinking water.
A New York Times article by Anahad O’Connor points out that drinking a glass of water prior to sitting down for meals can help put the skids on weight gain. The reporter points to three recent studies that describe why making this action may be a beneficial. One research effort, which was undertaken by scientists from Virginia Tech, focused on a randomized study in which overweight participants age 55 and older followed low-calorie diets for approximately three months. At the end of the 2008 study, the group of participants who had been told to drink two cups of water before every meal had lost an average of 15.5 pounds. The other group had lost 11 pounds. In the second study published in 2008, researchers found a 13-percent reduction in caloric intake in overweight subjects when they regularly drank water before breakfast. A third study, which was published in 2007, found that drinking water 30 minutes prior to a meal reduced caloric intake as well as feelings of hunger in older adults. However, researchers found that adults who were 35 and under did not experience the same effect.
Although more research is needed, these studies offer a promising view of water’s place in maintaining a healthy weight. So what else does water do for us?
Caloriesperhour.com noted that an adequate supply of water is a necessary ingredient in the process of burning calories. Additionally, water helps to flush out the toxins in your body created by burning calories. Water also helps muscles to contract properly, thus leading to the maintenance of muscle tone, and lubricates joints. And because fiber is often a key part of a healthy weight loss diet, adequate fluids are needed to eliminate it from the digestive tract in order to avoid constipation. Furthermore, Diet Channel.com provided additional information on how drinking water keeps the digestive system functioning, allowing fat burning to continue. “When there isn’t enough water to dilute the body’s waste products, kidney stones may form,” the website said. “When the kidneys aren’t working to their full potential, the liver must step in and help. Once this happens the liver can’t optimally perform its other important functions. As a result, burning fat has to wait.”
Drinking water also can reduce hunger pangs (which may be helpful when you’re thinking whether you really want that extra helping of pecan pie at Thanksgiving). Other drink choices may beckon, but water really is the best choice to make. The Diet Channel.com warned, “Avoid counting tea, coffee, sodas and juices in your fluid intake. Coffee and tea contain caffeine which has a diuretic effect and makes you lose water. Sodas and juices are too sweet – because the body must dilute them, they cause more dehydration.”
So how much water should you drink a day? Dr. Brenda Davy, who was the senior author of the Virginia Tech study, told WebMD that women should drink about nine cups of fluids (including water and other beverages) daily while men should drink approximately 13 cups. About.com: Nutrition’s Shereen Jegtvig reported, “A good estimate is to take your body weight in pounds and divide that in half. That gives you the number of ounces of water per day that you need to drink. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink at least 80 ounces of water per day. If you exercise you should drink another eight ounce glass of water for every 20 minutes you are active.” Additionally, remember that you’ll get at least 20% of water of the water you need from the foods you eat; therefore, the remainder needs to come from beverages (and preferably, from water). And remember that you can jazz up water by adding a bit of fresh lime or lemon to add flavor.