Drinking plenty of water is important for hydration, but can it really help you lose weight? Find out in our newest video as part of the new YouTube channel launch:
Weight loss is mostly about balancing calories. You can consume fewer calories through dieting, or you can burn more calories through exercise. When you burn more calories than you consume, you end up with a calorie deficit, and this usually leads to weight loss.
But, can you burn calories simply by drinking cold water? The answer might surprise you.
To find out, let’s look at what a calorie actually IS. The food calorie is a measurement of energy – specifically, the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.
If you drink a glass of ice-cold water at just above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, your body has to warm that water to body temperature – which is around 98.6 degrees. Warming this water as you drink it requires your body to burn calories just like it does during exercise.
If you drink 4 standard 16 ounce bottles of water per day, and chill that water as cold as you can without freezing it, you’ll theoretically burn around 70 extra calories simply due to the cold temperature of your water. This effect is called water-induced thermogenesis.
Those 70 calories are about the same as what you would burn by jogging three quarters of a mile. While these numbers aren’t exactly life-changing, that daily 70 calorie deficit could, in theory at least, result in more than 7 pounds of fat loss over the course of a year.
Now, if you find these numbers a bit underwhelming, you’ll be happy to hear that the weight loss benefits of water might extend far beyond this thermogenesis effect.
A 2010 study by the American Chemical Society showed that drinking a 16 ounce glass of water prior to a meal can cause you to eat up to 90 calories less than you would otherwise – and that’s without any conscious dieting effort. You just feel full earlier. Those calories add up, too – after 12 weeks, the people in the study who drank water before their meals lost around 5 pounds more than those who didn’t drink water before meals.
So, drinking plenty of cold water throughout the day – and especially before meals – can have a big effect on your weight loss results!
Just don’t overdo it. Water intoxication – or water poisoning – occurs when a person drinks enough water to dilute their electrolyte levels below the normal range. To stay on the safe side, The Institute of Medicine recommendsthat men should drink around 100 ounces of water per day, and women around 75 ounces.