Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research
Q: Does drinking lots of water really promote weight loss?
A: Drinking recommended amounts of water may play a role in successful weight loss, but it probably depends on how that strategy fits with the changes you are making. Authors of a review of research published this year on whether drinking water helps with weight loss noted that although good quality studies are sparse, they did find some evidence that increasing water consumption, along with a weight loss program, linked to increased weight loss. One study that demonstrated beneficial effects involved drinking about 16 ounces of water before each meal, a strategy that helps some people, but in other studies has been found less helpful than using substantial portions of vegetables to reduce calorie consumption at a meal. Another study in which greater water consumption was linked to more weight loss showed benefits tied to using water consumption as a replacement for high-calorie sweetened drinks. Choosing water in place of high-calorie soft drinks, lemonade, sweetened tea or deluxe coffee drinks with whipped cream toppings to water, and that could certainly play a big role in weight loss especially if you drink these high-calorie beverages regularly. It might be interesting to track what you drink in a typical day; it’s easy to underestimate how the calories from our beverage choices add up. Drinking water before or during meals may also help to fill you up and slow down while you eat so you eat less. Although, studies are mixed about whether or not this actually reduces calorie consumption, but you could certainly test out how it works for you. Remember, the goal in this regard is not to eat less than you need; it’s to avoid the over-eating that can occur when you come to a meal too hungry, or eat too quickly to notice when you’ve had enough. The bottom line is that drinking more water is good for health and may help with weight loss. But drinking water isn't magic -- it doesn't flush fat away or make any major shift in your metabolism. If it promotes weight loss, it's likely as a zero-calorie replacement that helps you comfortably reduce consumption of excess calories.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.