Keeping your body healthy depends on drinking enough water, which is often called the “holy grail” of hydration. According to the US Geological Survey, water makes up more than 60% of our bodies and is responsible for everything from removing waste products to regulating body temperature.
Albert Do, MD, MPH, a gastroenterologist and clinical director of the fatty liver program at Yale School of Medicine, says, “All cells, body compartments, and bodily fluids (such as blood) contain some degree of water, and our bodies are highly dependent on water.”
Staying hydrated is essential for life-sustaining functions. However, drinking water can also help with weight loss or weight management. It’s important to note, though, that there is no direct relationship between drinking water and losing weight.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RDN, a nutritionist specializing in sports dietetics in Los Angeles, says that water is just one piece of the weight loss puzzle and should not be used as a sole solution for losing weight.
One study found that drinking water before a meal reduced calorie intake and supported healthy weight management. However, this study only included 15 participants, so larger and more diverse studies are needed.
Increasing water consumption may speed up metabolism. One study found that increasing water intake can increase lipolysis, which releases stored fat by breaking down lipids, thus speeding up metabolism.
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men should drink 15.5 cups (3.7 liters or 124 ounces) of water per day, and women should drink 11.5 cups (2.7 liters or 92 ounces) of water per day. This includes water from both fluids and foods.
Drinking water before meals can reduce hunger and drinking water after meals can be beneficial for digestion. Some tips for developing a habit of drinking water include setting reminders, using smart water bottles, and adding flavor to water.
It’s important to note that a diet that involves only drinking water, also known as water fasting, can lead to health problems and may not result in long-term weight loss.