Drinking Water for Weight Loss: Does it work?

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Could something as simple as water help you lose more weight?

Area experts say yes.

While it is obvious that replacing caloric beverage with calorie-free water would help with weight loss, water offers other advantages to people working at weight loss.

People often mistakenly think they are hungry but they are actually thirsty, especially when the craving is for sweet or salty foods.

“If someone’s feeling hungry, I tell them to have water,” said Kevin Webb, certified personal trainer and owner of KW Fitness in Fayetteville.

Drinking calories can add many more calories to a daily diet than one realizes. That is why Webb recommends drinking water.

“It can replace caloric drinks someone might be drinking and water can remove liquid calories,” he said.

Drinking during a meal can also help people feel full sooner instead of continuing to eat after they are satiated.

Jill Murphy, personal trainer and co-owner of Mission Fitness in East Syracuse, said that when cutting caloric intake, most people feel more hunger.

“Staying hydrated is one way to curb hunger,” she said. “One symptom of dehydration is hunger, therefore staying hydrated will make it much easier to stay within your allotted caloric intake for your weight loss program.”

As the body heats up any cold water that a person drinks to bring it up to body temperature, it burns a few calories.

Drinking enough can also help improve workout sessions. That same energizing component, along with providing enough hydration to the body, can boost performance.

“A higher intake of water helps your body naturally detox, perform at a higher athletic threshold, aid in weight loss, and impacts overall brain functioning and energy levels,” said Sarah Green, certified personal trainer, certified in nutrition, and club manager at Blink in Liverpool. “Your body needs water to burn fat. An increase in water intake increases lipolysis, the process of the body breaking down fats through hydrolysis.”

Feeling too drained to make it through the afternoon without a snack? Reach for that water bottle instead. Staying hydrated helps the body feel more energized.

“Our bodies are mostly water,” said Sara Walls, certified personal trainer for Train Hard Fitness in Liverpool. “We can’t function well if we’re not hydrated. Get your water intake in check before you do physical things.”

To make consuming water more palatable, use glass or stainless-steel containers. Sometimes, plastic containers can give water an off taste. Add a tiny amount of juice to give it a splash of flavor. Add slices of cucumber, citrus fruits or berries to a pitcher in the refrigerator. It will not add calories but does offer a light flavor.

Walls likes unsweetened hot tea to help drink enough fluids daily but she said that caffeine-free options are better because caffeine can cause fluid loss and interrupt sleep.

“I used to have a massive soda habit— a pack a week,” Walls said. “A big thing that helped is flavored sparkling water. It tastes like a treat but doesn’t have the sugar, caffeine and acid that are hard on your teeth.”

She warned about sports drinks such as Gatorade. While it may seem sensible to reach for a sports beverage after exercise, she said that most people do not need it.

“Gatorade is great if you’re running a marathon to replenish what you’re losing from sweat,” she said. “If you’re not sweating for hours, it’s way more sugar than what you need. It was created for football players working out in the hot sun all day. Drinking Gatorade after 20 minutes of cardio does more harm than good. It’s the same for juices. They’re delicious but they take all the fiber and pulp out, which is where most of the nutrients are, and leave you with sugar water.”