February 9, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Water/Weight Loss

Is it true that drinking lots of water is a healthy way to lose weight? I read that if you drink water when you are hungry you can fool your body into thinking it's full.

-- Lydia T.
San Antonio, TX

As refreshing and hydrating as H2O is, it is not a fat-melter or metabolism booster.

While there are instances in which thirst is confused with hunger, thereby resulting in the consumption of extraneous calories, the actual feeling of hunger is a survival mechanism.

Your body is demanding calories, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Trying to fool it by chugging liters of water is not the answer.

You'll simply end up making more trips to the bathroom and the hunger pains will only get worse.

If you are hungry in between meals, the best thing to do is to have low-calorie nutritious snacks such as fresh fruit, a half cup of cut up vegetables (i.e.: carrots and celery) with a tablespoon of two or hummus, a few whole grain crackers with salsa, a fruit and nut bar (like Lara, Clif Nectar, or Pure), or a small handful of raw nuts.

This way you respond adequately to your body's needs without excessive calories, added sugars, or unhealthy fats.

The one way in which water can play an important role in weight loss is if it substitutes for other beverages.

For instance, someone with a three-cans-of-soda-a-day habit can knock off hundreds of calories a day by replacing two (or all three!) cans with water (or any other calorie-free beverage, really).

While diet soda is calorie-free, remember that the phosphoric acid (present in regular and diet sodas) can be detrimental for bone health. I certainly wouldn't recommend someone chug three cans of Diet Coke a day.

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