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Can Drinking Water Speed Weight Loss ?

While the abundance of diet books and programs may be confusing, there are several principles that they all have in common. One is the value of exercising in conjunction with dieting. Another is the recommendation to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water. In fact, these recommendations are so common that the average "dieter" tunes them out. Drinking water may also seem like too simple a recommendation to help you lose weight. The theory behind this recommendation has always been that drinking sufficient amounts of water may actually make you feel full, and therefore, be less likely to want to overeat. Some people also believe that drinking sufficient amounts of water may help your body to clear metabolic waste products more efficiently. However, a new report from The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (12/03) suggests that drinking sufficient water may actually increase the metabolic rate, or the rate at which people burn calories. While the researchers admit that the impact of their findings were small, this information could still potentially help with weight-control programs. In weight management, small daily improvements and behavioral changes can accrue for a significant long-term result.

This study, conducted at Berlin's Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center, was a very small one. Researchers tracked caloric intake and energy expenditures among seven men and seven women who were healthy and not overweight.

After drinking approximately 17 ounces of water (slightly more than 2 glasses), the subjects' metabolic rates increased by 30% for both men and women. The increases occurred within 10 minutes of water consumption and reached a maximum after about 30 to 40 minutes.

Interestingly, the increase in metabolic rate differed in men and women. In men, burning more fat fueled the increase in metabolism, whereas in women, an increased breakdown of carbohydrates caused the increase in metabolism seen.

The researchers estimate that over the course of a year, a person who increases his water consumption by 1.5 liters a day without making any other changes would burn an extra 17,400 calories, for an additional weight loss of approximately five pounds. They suggest that up to 40% of the increase in calorie burning is caused by the body's attempt to heat the ingested water. Obviously, larger studies would be necessary to confirm these preliminary findings. Regardless of whether they are confirmed, drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water per day is an easy, harmless, and free first step for dieters.

Created: 3/9/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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