We Talked to a Nutritionist to Get the Skinny on Drinking Water For Weight Loss
Back in 2016, a study went viral because it promised a simple, easy way to lose weight: simply drink 16 ounces of water before eating. Since then, the tip has found its way into nearly every article about weight loss. Obviously, being hydrated is important, but does it actually help you in your weight-loss efforts? POPSUGAR spoke to Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, CLC of Maya Feller Nutrition, a registered dietitian and nutritionist who works with patients who need weight management and those looking for nutritional management of diet-related chronic illnesses.
"There is some research that supports the statement that drinking water prior to a meal may result in a decrease in energy intake and therefore mild to moderate weight loss," Feller said, noting that other studies found that this effect is so variable from person to person that it's not reliable. "Is this something that I suggest for my patients? No," she added. "I would rather we work to identify internal hunger and satiety rather than preloading [the body] with water."
You should still strive to be adequately hydrated, regardless of your weight-loss goals. Dehydration can affect your mood and cause headaches and fatigue — not to mention, one study found a link between inadequate hydration and risk of obesity.
While the ideal daily water intake varies from person to person, "the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined men should aim for 125 ounces daily and women should aim for 91 ounces daily," said Feller. Factors like age, gender, physical activity, climate, and health status can cause your daily needs to fluctuate. The easiest way to tell if you're properly hydrated, Feller said, is to look at your urine. "Urine that is dark in color can be an indication that you haven't had enough water and conversely clear urine can be a sign that you are overhydrating. Rather, the ideal is a pale yellow," she said.
But here's the thing about plain water: it's really boring to drink. If you struggle to drink enough water throughout the day, Feller suggested unsweetened herbal tea as an alternative. You can also infuse water with herbs and fruit to make it more flavorful.
If your problem is forgetfulness, she recommended setting a reminder on your phone or computer, or keeping a reusable water bottle on your desk. If you go this route, just remember to wash the bottle — because it's dark and damp, it's a breeding ground for bacteria. And whatever you do, please (please!), don't drink it like this.