Many Americans are struggling with their weight and want to be healthier. However, with our busy schedules it can be difficult to set aside the time to go to the gym or grocery shop and prepare a healthy meal. People who are struggling with their weight are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even dementia. So, what can we do to fend off these risks if we don’t have time to work out every day?

Research has shown there is an easy, quick solution to curbing your appetite and assisting with weight loss: drinking water. For those of you who are skeptical about how drinking water can control your appetite, Optimum has compiled this guide to take a closer look at exactly how it works.

Mistaking Thirst for Hunger

When you begin to feel hungry, your first impulse is probably to go and find food. However, eating may not solve your problem if hunger isn’t actually what you’re feeling. Dr. Melina Jampolis, board-certified physician nutrition specialist, explains it this way: “Thirst, which is triggered by mild dehydration, is often mistaken for hunger by the brain.”

Many times when you’re feeling hungry for a snack, your brain is actually trying to tell you that you’re dehydrated and you need to drink some water, but the signals can sometimes get all jumbled up. We suggest grabbing a glass of water before snacking. If you are still hungry after drinking some water, then you were probably actually hungry. However, you will be surprised how often the water will relieve your hunger!

Feel Full Faster

When you sit down to eat a meal, your stomach starts paying attention to everything that’s going into it and how much space is available for more incoming food. When your stomach begins to sense that it is close to being full, it starts sending signals to your brain to decrease your hunger so you will stop eating. This causes the sensation of feeling full after eating, which is our way of knowing we’ve eaten enough to satiate ourselves. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send that signal to your brain, and during that time it’s easy to keep eating, leading you to overeat and consume more calories than necessary for your body to function.

Research has shown that drinking two cups of water before your meal can help control your appetite and prevent overeating. The water will take up more space in your stomach, tricking your stomach into sending the “I’m full” signals to your brain more quickly than it would if you hadn’t drunk water before your meal. Drinking water before your meal will reduce your hunger and lead to a reduced calorie intake. Water is calorie-free, and consuming water before your meals can also slightly increase your metabolism. If you’re drinking sugary, high-calorie beverages, swap those out for water to help curb your appetite and contribute to weight loss.

Many studies have been conducted to prove that drinking water can actually suppress your appetite. The 2008 study, Water Consumption Reduces Energy Intake at a Breakfast Meal, showed that drinking water before breakfast reduced the amount of calories consumed by 13%. In a 2014 study titled Effect of Excessive Water intake on Body Weight, Body Mass Index, Body Fat, and Appetite of Overweight Female Participants, 50 overweight women drank 500 mL of water 30 minutes before each meal in addition to their regular water consumption. Participants reported a suppression in their appetite, leading to a reduction in body weight, body fat, and body mass index.

Another study published in 2015 titled Efficacy of Water Preloading Before Main Meals as a Strategy for Weight Loss in Primary Care Patients With Obesity, researched the effects of drinking two glasses of water before meals versus imagining your stomach was already full. At the end of the study, the water drinkers lost an average of three pounds more than the imagination group due to decreased appetite. In 2016, the study Immediate Pre-Meal Water Ingestion Decreases Voluntary Food Intake, showed that people who drank two glasses of water before a meal ate 22% less than those who didn’t drink any water before their meals.

Water Intake

Now that you understand how drinking water can help curb your appetite and keep you from unnecessarily snacking, you may have questions about the appropriate methods of water intake. Studies indicate that you should drink two glasses of water before each meal, leading to a total of six glasses a day. This amount falls within the generally recommended range for water needs; however, your specific water needs can vary depending on your health, activity, diet, and medications.

The National Academy for Sports Medicine recommends a daily water intake of 16 cups for men and 12 cups for women, but you should talk to your doctor to help you determine the amount of water you should be drinking every day. If you’re struggling to meet your daily hydration needs and goals, we suggest adding fresh-cut fruit to give it a little bit of flavor; strawberries, lemon, or even mint can liven up your water.

Here at Optimum, we are passionate about helping people meet their hydration needs and encouraging our customers to live healthier. To find out more about how Optimum can help you with your daily water intake, visit our website.