If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ve probably already replaced sugary drinks like soda and juice with water.
But what you might not be aware of is that drinking water before meals could be helpful for weight loss — and perhaps not just because it occupies space in your tummy.
In a small recent study, researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK found that, on average, people who drank water 3o minutes before some or all of their three meals a day lost between 5 and 9 pounds over the course of about three months.
For their study, researchers at the University of Birmingham looked at 84 people (54 women and 30 men). The researchers don’t provide the age range for the participants in their paper, but they do say the average age of the participants was 56 years.
About half the participants drank 16 ounces (roughly two glasses) of plain, noncarbonated water 30 minutes before at least one meal a day. Some people ended up drinking water before all of their three meals a day, while others just did it for one or two.
To figure out if they were sticking with the plan, the researchers periodically surveyed the participants and monitored their urine to see how much water they were actually consuming.
The other half of the participants didn’t drink any water before their meals. Instead, to encourage them to feel like an active part of the study, they were told to picture feeling full.
People in the water-drinking group ate fewer calories at each meal than the people in the group that didn’t change their water-drinking habits.
The researchers think that this decrease in calories at each meal could be chalked up to the obvious: Drinking water fills up your tummy, making you feel fuller and less hungry.
But there could be other reasons as well. For one thing, when you’re dehydrated, your body will often tell you you’re hungry, so there’s a better chance of water getting into your system through the food you eat.
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