What you choose to sip on throughout the day can benefit (or totally sabotage) your weight loss efforts.
“Oftentimes people are eating healthy, but don’t think about their drinks,” says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “They may be drinking multiple sodas per day, juices and flavored drinks that all contain carbohydrates and sugars, which add up calories over time.”
On the flip side, if you make healthier drink choices, your weight loss can take a positive turn.
“Once you eliminate calorie-rich beverages from your day, you may quickly see a shift in weight just by cutting out any beverage that contains calories that you tend to drink a lot each day,” adds Ehsani.
And the best drink you can have for weight loss is water.
“The one drink I would say we need more of that’s completely free, accessible, has no calories, added sugar, or added flavors—and that your body needs more than any other drink out there—is water,” says Ehsani.
How water helps you lose weight
There are plenty of reasons you should be sipping more water.
“First of all, our bodies are composed mainly of water, so we need it every single day,” adds Ehsani. “It’s essential for our overall health and wellbeing. It helps move things along! It removes waste from your body through your digestive tract and can help prevent constipation. It can help debloat you,” she says.
And specifically for weight loss, there is scientific evidence to back up its benefits.
“Studies show drinking sufficient water will help you lose weight, as it can prevent you from overeating,” says Ehsani. “If you are dehydrated and eating a meal, you are more likely to mistake thirst for hunger and continue to eat, when in reality maybe you are just thirsty.”
She adds that studies have also found that those who drank water before meals ate less at meal times, as sufficient water intake was found to reduce appetites in older adults.
How much water to drink to reap its weight loss-supporting benefits
So how much do you need? Of course, you’ve probably heard it’s eight glasses per day, but the recommendation is actually more than that.
“The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend 11 ½ cups a day for women and 15 ½ cups a day for men,” says Ehsani.
If you are nowhere near that number, Ehsani suggests that you start slowly and work your way up.
“Only drinking four to five cups now? Make a goal of at least six glasses per day and set reminders around your house and workplace to remind yourself to drink,” she says. “Have it sitting on your work desk, and set a calendar or watch reminders. Download an app that helps you remind you and tracks your cups of water per day.”
She notes that you can also check your urine color to tell if you’re drinking enough.
“If it’s dark like apple juice, it’s an indicator you are dehydrated and need to start sipping,” says Ehsani.
And think back to the last time you went to the bathroom.
“Has it been over 4 hours? You probably are dehydrated,” she adds. “Hydrated individuals are using the restroom every two to four hours.”