Atkins, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Mediterranean — no matter what kind of diet you look at, you’re likely to see “drink eight or more glasses of water per day” as one of the main tenets. We’ve already talked a little bit about how drinking water fills you up and helps suppress your appetite, but now it’s time to tackle one of the most touted benefits of drinking water: the hypothesis that drinking water revs up your metabolism.
While it’s long been accepted as a healthy addition to weight loss regimens, there’s only been a few studies actually addressing the science behind that assumption. Here’s exactly how drinking water affects your metabolism — and what results you can expect from increasing your daily water intake.
Let’s start with a little background info. Sure, you’ve probably said enviously of your friend who eats a large pizza and doesn’t gain any weight, “Well, she’s got a really high metabolism,” but what does that actually mean?
At its most basic, metabolism is the rate at which your body converts food into energy. The faster your body does this, the more calories you burn “at rest” (without the influence of any exercise regimen).
While most of your metabolism is determined by genetics and age, there are a few things you can do to tweak what is formally known as your basal metabolic rate. Exercise (especially strength training or interval training), eating regularly, and getting enough sleep can all boost your metabolism.
So how does drinking water fit in?
Behind the Science
The flagship study on water and metabolism was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Researchers tracked fourteen healthy men and women to study how much energy they were expending (read: how high their metabolism was) after drinking about 17oz of water.
The results? The subjects’ metabolic rates (aka the rate at which calories are burned) jumped by 30% for both men and women. That increase happened within ten minutes of drinking water, reached its peak 30-40 minutes after drinking, and lasted over an hour. The researchers estimated that drinking 1.5 more liters of water than you normally do would translate to increasing your daily energy expenditure by about 200kJ (about 50 calories). Sure, it’s a small amount, but when you’re trying to lose weight, every bit (and every sip from your BPA-free reusable water bottle) counts!
The Waterfall Effect
While it’s true that drinking water will boost your metabolism, it also has several other health benefits that help when you’re trying to lose weight (glowing skin, energized muscles, less fatigue, and clearer thinking, just to name a few). Plus, drinking more water each day can have what we like to call a waterfall effect (pun intended): one healthy habit leads to another that leads to another. Today, you’ll drink an extra few glasses of water; maybe tomorrow, you’ll choose a salad over your usual burrito for lunch and ramp up the resistance during a spin class. Drinking more water could be the start of a new, healthier you — all you have to do is fill up your reusable water bottle and go!Back to Blog Home