Sunday, October 3, 2010

Water and Weight Loss

The idea that you can lose weight by drinking water before meals is not really new, although it is getting renewed interest. But does it really work? Could something as cheap and as simple as drinking a refreshing glass of water help you to lose weight? Or is it just a gimmick? Let’s see.

Water as a Weight Loss Diet Aid 
For years, diet proponents have been suggesting that drinking lots of water is a good way to lose weight. But there has been little scientific study to support that recommendation. Still, it makes sense. Sometimes, people mistake thirst for hunger and reach for something solid to eat rather than drinking water. Reaching for a glass of water instead of solid food would serve to rehydrate while avoiding unnecessary calories.

In theory, drinking water would avoid unwanted calories and thus support weight loss. But, is there any scientific evidence to show that drinking water before a meal can actually help you to shed unwanted pounds? 

The scientific literature on this subject is sparse. In fact, during my cursory search of the literature online, two studies related to the question. In one study, a group of men and women were given about 2 cups of water to drink about one-half hour before meals. Another group in the same study did not drink water prior to the meal. Both groups were on a low-calorie diet. 

At the end of 12 weeks, the group that drank the water 30 minutes before the meal had lost more weight than the group that did not drink water prior to eating meals. According to the authors, this study demonstrated that drinking two cups of water prior to eating meals could lead to increased weight loss. 

Another study, designed to determine whether or not drinking water 30 minutes before a meal produced weight loss by causing a reduction in the amount of food consumed. One group of adults was assigned to drink 500 ml of water (about 2 cups) prior to eating breakfast. A second group did not drink water before eating. The investigators found that those who drank 2 cups of water before eating consumed less food than those who did not drink water before eating. 

These results supported the theory that drinking water before meals may help to increase weight loss by curbing the appetite, which would result in reduced food intake.