Does Water Intake Actually Make Any Difference With Weight Loss?
It’s common knowledge that drinking water daily is important. But when embarking on a weight loss journey, you might read or hear people talk about how it’s important to drink water for weight loss. But no one has ever explained why?!
Water helps with hydration, eliminating toxins, digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature... but what has it got to do with weight loss?!
It actually has a VERY important job when it comes to weight loss. First let me list the indirect ways water helps, then I’m going to explain why you actually can’t burn fat without the glorious H2O.
Reasons why it helps:
It’s a natural appetite suppressant
It can reduce calorie intake from sugar liquids
Hydration = more energy = better workouts = more calories burnt = more weight loss
Dehydration can cause you to feel sleepier because when you’re dehydrated, your blood pressure can drop thus decreasing blood flow to the brain, making you feel sleepier and fatigued.
Water helps with constipation. Being constipated can feel uncomfortable so you may exercise less, and feel gross so you eat more which both can cause no weight loss results
Dehydrated can also cause you to feel hungry. This is because thirst and hunger cues are associated with the same area of the brain - the hypothalamus. Your body will also be using glycogen (stored energy) at a faster rate making you crave sugar and carbs for an extra energy boost. Unfortunately, this often means that you reach for the cookie jar rather than a glass of water, which can again stop your weight loss efforts.
Ok so if all that isn’t reason enough to drink water for weight loss, here is the icing on top of the cake (no pun intended).
Water is the key to fat burning
Without water, the body cannot properly metabolise stored fat or carbohydrates and use it as energy aka the process of you actually losing fat.
Ima drop some science on you if you like it or not. The process of metabolising fat is called lipolysis. An amazing definition thanks to BD Editors (1) “Lipolysis is the process by which fats are broken down in our bodies through enzymes and water, or hydrolysis. Lipolysis occurs in our adipose tissue stores, which are the fatty tissues that cushion and line our bodies and organs. In fact, fats can be thought of simply as stored energy.”
The first step of this process is hydrolysis, which occurs when water molecules interact with triglycerides (fats) to create glycerol and fatty acids.
A mini-review (2) from 2016 found that increased water intake led to increased lipolysis and a loss of fat in animal studies.
This means upping your water intake may increase lipolysis (fat burning), according to the above review published in Frontiers in Nutrition. It was noted by Jampolis (who wasn’t associated with the review), "We're not certain of the mechanism, but mild dehydration decreases lipolysis, which may be due to hormonal changes.” This was in animals though, not in humans. But in my opinion why wouldn’t it be the same for us considering it’s the same mechanism.
I won’t go further down the science rabbit hole for you but in simple terms, drinking enough water is essential for burning off fat from food and drink, as well as stored fat.
Side note: Through my 10 years of helping people lose weight, I can always tell which of my clients drink water and which don’t. Anecdotally, I’ve seen the increase in weight loss results with myself and clients when water intake is sufficient.
So how much should you drink?
Water intake is very individualised. It can depend on age, gender, health status, physical activity, weather, how much each individual sweats and more! But a rule of thumb I give to my clients is this equation:
Your Body Weight x 30ml = Xml (then work out the litres)
55kg x 30ml = 1650ml = 1.65L
This is a ballpark figure. If you sweat a lot or it’s been a hot day, or you're just thirsty, then drink! This equation is a good place to start.
Let me know if you up your water intake and see a difference in the comments below! Would love to hear how you go!