One of the secrets to weight loss is staying hydrated. Sipping water before meals may help you take in fewer calories. Plus, it's easy to confuse thirst with hunger -- a mistake that can lead to overeating.
It's a myth that you need to drink 8 cups of water a day. The water you get in foods counts, too.
Still, it's easy to fall short. Whether you simply forget to drink up or don't love the taste, these 11 tips can help you get more water in your diet.
1. Stick to a schedule.
Just like anything else, creating a routine can help you refill your glass more often.
For example, drink a cup when you first wake up, then again with every meal and snack. Set your smartphone to ping you with a reminder several times a day.
2. Take your H20 to go.
Toting your own bottle is both eco-friendly and a great way to make sure you always have some water on hand. Invest in a bottle you love so you'll want to take it with you wherever you go.
3. Add some fizz.
Make a simple, low-cal spritzer: Pour a splash of 100% fruit juice into unsweetened seltzer water or club soda. Regular OJ and apple juice are good picks, or try something a little more fun (think pomegranate, black raspberry, or acai juice).
4. Try a flavor boost.
Who says water has to taste plain? You can make it tasty with fruit, vegetables, fresh herbs, or spices.
Fill a pitcher with water and ice, add a few extras, and wait at least 2 hours before taking your first sip. Try strawberries with fresh basil leaves, cucumbers with mint leaves, or apples with cinnamon sticks.
5. Have a tea party.
Relax and unwind with a mug of decaf tea. It's just as hydrating as plain water, but with flavor.
6. Get milk.
Dairy products help you hydrate, too. Get your calcium fix with a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk. Or enjoy some yogurt, which is 85% water. If you don't favor dairy, swap in your favorite alternative, such as almond milk, hemp milk, soy milk, or rice milk. Dairy foods and fortified plant "milks" also give you calcium and vitamin D.
7. Start with soup.
When dining out, choose a broth-based (not creamy) soup for your appetizer. You'll get extra fluids, plus it will help you fill up faster. Studies show it can help you eat less during the meal.
8. Order salad.
Salad is another smart starter. It's packed with water-rich veggies (lettuce is 96% water) and low in calories -- as long as you go easy on the dressing and other fattening toppings.
9. Eat watermelon.
Staying true to its name, this fruit (which is 91% water) is especially hydrating. Slice some up for dessert or to snack on throughout the day.
10. Have broccoli.
Some water-rich foods aren't as obvious. Broccoli, for example, is nearly 90% water. Toss a couple of handfuls into your next stir-fry, or eat them raw with hummus.
11. Count your coffee.
Surprise: Caffeinated drinks count toward your daily fluid total. Just don't go overboard, since they can also make you have to urinate more often. About 2 cups of coffee a day is OK for most people.
Does Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight?
You know it's important to stay hydrated. But can drinking more water really help you lose weight? The short answer is yes -- and no. If you’re already drinking enough water, getting more probably won’t make much difference. But if you’re going through your days a little -- or a lot -- dehydrated, as many people do, getting enough water could help.
Here are some ways water is beneficial if you're trying to lose extra weight:
You can mistake thirst for hunger. It’s hard for your body to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. So if you’re feeling a gnawing sense of hunger, you might just be dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water instead of grabbing a snack.
Water helps you feel full. Research has also shown that drinking a glass of water right before a meal helps you to feel fuller and eat less. One study found that people who drank water before meals ate an average of 75 fewer calories at each meal. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but multiply 75 calories by 365 days a year. Even if you only drink water before dinner every day, you’d get 27,000 fewer calories over the course of the year. That works out to a loss of almost 8 pounds, everything else being equal.
Water keeps your metabolism humming. There's also some evidence that drinking enough water can keep your metabolism working at its best. In one small study, drinking about 2 cups of warm water increased people's metabolic rates by an average of 30% from 10-40 minutes. Another study found a link between dehydration and a higher body weight, though we need more research to understand why.
Water can replace high-calorie beverages. Perhaps the most direct way water can help with weight loss is by replacing other drinks like juice, energy drinks, and soda. Water is calorie-free, while sugary drinks can contain hundreds of calories. In fact, sweetened drinks – especially soda – are the No. 1 source of added sugar in the American diet.