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Should You Drink Water Before or After You Eat To Lose Weight?

by Kelli Cooper

About Kelli Cooper

Kelli Cooper has been a writer since 2009, specializing in health and fitness. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers University and is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise.

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The human body is largely composed of water, making consumption a vital part of survival. Drinking adequate amounts also has been touted for numerous health benefits and it appears that it could help in the battle of the bulge. When it comes to drinking water to facilitate weight loss, you probably will reap optimal benefits by drinking it before meals rather than after. Just drinking water, however, will not produce such dramatic results that you do not need to follow the basic tenets of weight loss, such as eating less and exercising more.

Reducing Caloric Intake

CNN medical correspondent Dr. Melina Jampolis reports that a study conducted at Virginia Tech and published in a 2008 issue of the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” found that drinking water before meals led subjects to consume an average of 75 fewer calories at that meal. While that might not sound like a lot, it quickly adds up in the long term. You will only reap optimal benefit from this, however, if you are eating the proper amount of calories for your energy and weight loss needs. For example, if you eat 500 more calories than you need every day, eating 75 fewer calories at every meal will not create the deficit you need to lose weight. Many Internet sites offer calculators to determine your daily energy needs based on current weight, desired weight, activity level and other relevant factors.

Increase in Average Weight Loss

Brenda Davy, Ph.D., and her team of researchers presented a study that found that drinking 16 ounces of water before each meal resulted in greater weight loss. For 12 weeks, all participants followed a low-calorie diet while half drank water before meals and half did not. At the end of the study, researchers found that those who drank water before the meals lost an average of 15.5 pounds, while the non-drinkers lost 11.

Importance of Water in Controlling Weight

While drinking water before meals specifically appears to facilitate weight loss, most likely by producing a feeling of fullness that leads you to eat less, you should aim to stay well-hydrated throughout the day as well. Dr. Jampolis reports that even being 1 percent dehydrated can slow your metabolism, which results in fewer calories burned 24/7. Additionally, your body often cannot tell the difference between hunger and thirst, meaning sometimes your feelings of hunger actually might be thirst and you are eating when you do not need to.

Daily Water Intake

The aforementioned findings were based on consuming 16 ounces before each meal. Davy points out that the total amount of water you should drink every day has not been firmly established, but says the Institute of Medicine, which advises the federal government on science, recommends women get at least 9 cups of fluid a day.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.