Why is Hydration Important When Losing Weight?
Research suggests that hydration is important when losing weight for a variety of different reasons. It can suppress appetite, boost your metabolism1 and increase energy levels. It’s not all about quenching your thirst; the benefits are much wider than that. Let’s explore why it’s essential if you’re looking to drop the pounds.
Why is hydration important?
So, how does water help the body? Let us count the ways:
- Preventing infections
- Lubricating joints
- Delivering nutrients to cells
- Regulating body temperature
- Keeping organs working properly
- Improving sleep quality
- Boosting mood
- Keeping skin clear
- Regulating blood pressure
- Improving cognition2
Our bodies are mostly made up of water, around two thirds of a man’s and over half of a woman’s (on average); fluid is essential for life.3
How much should you drink?
Water has no calories or any sugar that can damage your teeth – it’s also cheap and readily available.
It’s recommended we drink a minimum of 6-8 glasses a day.4 This can vary based on a range of factors, including age, exercise levels, body size and humidity.
It doesn’t all have to be plain water, but can be flavoured (e.g. cucumber, lemon or orange slices), or no-sugar squash if you’d prefer. Plain tea, fruit tea and coffee with no sugar can also be good sources of fluid. You can also get some fluid from the food you eat, including stews, soups, fruits and vegetables.
However, ensure you stay hydrated this way, cutting back on sugary, fizzy drinks that offer little nutritional value. Even certain ‘energy drinks’ marketed as healthy can be loaded with sugar and actually bad for your body.
The benefits of hydration when losing weight
Evidently, drinking enough water every day is essential for overall health, but what about when it comes to weight loss?
1.Can naturally reduce appetite
Water should never be used as a meal replacement. However, it can help naturally suppress hunger and reduce appetite, helping you to curb unnecessary snacking. Firstly, this is because drinking water will help stretch your stomach, signaling to your brain that you’re full.
One study suggests that drinking water 30 minutes before a meal decreases the amount of food consumed during that meal. Participants ate an average of 22% less than those who didn’t drink water prior to eating.5 Generally, they also felt fuller and more satisfied after the meal too.
As well as this, thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger, meaning you eat when you’re actually dehydrated. So, staying hydrated can help reduce overall calories for the day. Since being in a moderate calorie deficit is essential for sustainable weight loss, drinking more water is a great way to start losing the pounds.
2. Makes exercise easier
Exercise can help you lose weight by helping you build muscle and burn calories. However, without adequate hydration, performance will be more difficult and less effective. Of course, as you exercise, you’ll sweat, and drinking water is the best way to replace this lost fluid.6
If you’re dehydrated, your body will break down muscle quicker and build it slower, which can not only cause cramping, but mean workouts won’t be as effective in general. Drinking water also helps with temperature regulation, so not having enough while working out can lead to heat exhaustion.
3. Can speed up metabolism
Several studies have shown drinking water can temporarily speed up metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.7 There’s also some evidence that this effect can be greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up.
4. Can help lower calorie intake
Water has no calories at all. Therefore, swapping out high-sugar, high-calorie beverages can help you cut back hundreds of calories a day. For this reason, it’s linked to lower risk of weight gain and reduced calorie intake.8 This applies to both adults and children.
5. Improves motivation and concentration
Dehydration can cause feelings of exhaustion, irritability, confusion and dizziness. This is because it reduces oxygen flow to the brain and makes your heart work harder to pump oxygen to your organs. The result? This can make people less likely to eat healthily, craving high-sugar options for instant energy and making you less motivated to exercise. Hydration gives you energy.
6. Reduces stress
Research shows that dehydration leads to higher cortisol levels (the stress hormone),9 another reason to drink up. For some, stress causes overeating, general feelings of unhappiness and inability to think clearly. It definitely doesn’t lend itself to healthier decisions.
7. Clears the body of toxins
Water flushes out toxins, impurities and waste, which has a whole host of benefits:
- Keeps skin clear
- Helps skin look younger
- Makes you less constipated
- Reduces bloating
- Prevents kidney stones
- Promotes kidney function
- Flushes harmful bacteria
8. Burns fat
Water is needed to metabolise stored fat and carbohydrates, as well as fat from food and drinks.10 A lack of hydration can make the body less effective at burning fat.
How to increase water intake
Do you struggle to stay hydrated throughout the day? Here are some tips to help you increase the amount of water you drink:
- Carrying water with you in a reusable bottle
- Ensuring you drink water with each meal
- Having a glass of water next to your bed
- Drinking more water when it’s hot or humid
- Drinking when you exercise
- Eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content (e.g. watermelon, tomatoes and cucumber)
- Setting a daily goal
- Flavouring your water (or drinking carbonated water) if you find the taste boring
- Replacing other drinks with water
- Eating more liquid-based meals such as soups and stews
- Setting reminders11
The importance of hydration – final word
Evidently, the importance of staying hydrated extends far beyond weight loss. However, if you are looking to lose some weight and keep it off, drinking more water is key.
It’s calorie-free, helps burn more calories, gives you more energy and can reduce appetite. Plus, swapping out sugary drinks is an easy change that can make a huge difference as time goes on.
While drinking more water alone isn’t enough to help you lose lots of weight, it’s definitely an essential part of the process. Combined with frequent exercise, healthy eating and a moderate calorie deficit, hydration is a piece of the puzzle.