Does water help you lose weight? Common knowledge says yes, but here are some surprising facts science found about this wisdom.
Drink Water, Lose Weight?
You already a long time ago saw me mention it as one of the definite “secret weapons” when trying to lose weight: drinking water. But does drinking all that water really do anything and is there more than anecdotal evidence for it?
That is exactly what scientists from Berlin’s School of Public Health tried to find out. But to their surprise and despite the topic being so popular, very, very few properly done studies ever examined it.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (Studies)
Going through many medical databases, they came up with about 5,000 papers concerning water consumption, but many looked at something completely different or were done so badly that they didn’t yield any reliable results. At the end they had only 11 studies that seemed promising.
11 out of 5,000 – and I thought passing my final exams was hard. But the good news is that of those 11, three expressly looked at overweight people and these found drinking water really worked, especially when done together with a weight loss or maintenance program.
In one of these three, for example, people drank about half a liter more water than their diet plan demanded and they shedded more pounds than those on the plan who didn’t. The Berlin researchers reason that the water may have replaced the calorie-laden softdrinks participants would have normally consumed, making weight loss easier.
But before we start rejoicing, I also have to mention that they fired off a word of caution: the other eight studies looked at people from “mixed” weight groups, meaning from skinny to fat, and there results were much more uneven. For thin or normal weight people, the water seemed to have only little effect on body weight.
It Works Only In The Overweight?
So on one hand we now have some scientific evidence that drinking water really helps lose weight. Which nicely ties in with my experience back from losing weight: I calculated that before I lost weight, I consumed about 400 fluid kcal per day, most coming from softdrinks. That was 2,800 kcal per week. As losing one pound of body weight requires a deficit of 3,500 kcal, that is hefty.
What I can’t understand is why water apparently didn’t help in weight maintenance among normal weight people. I still minimize liquid calories and it has now been five years that I managed to keep my weight steady. I’m not sure if going back to regular softdrinks wouldn’t make that much more difficult.