According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 60% of all adults in the U.S. suffer from abdominal obesity. So, it’s only natural that you are looking for ways to reduce belly fat. However, with so many fad diets out there you may be wondering if you can actually lose belly fat with water.
Drinking water can reduce belly fat by stimulating your metabolism, suppressing your appetite and reducing your overall caloric intake. Water consumption also improves the effect of exercise and is integral in lipolysis – the process by which the body breaks down fat. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recommends 91oz of water for women and 125oz for men to maintain optimum health.
As you read on, you’ll discover the two common approaches to weight loss by water, and the reason why one approach is better than the other. Then, there’s the logic behind shedding weight with water, and the ways to use that to your advantage. You’ll also see the several factors that determine how water consumption would affect your weight, and why there is no “one-size-fits-all” quantity for daily consumption. Happy reading! And don’t miss out on the other benefits to staying hydrated.
Two common approaches to weight loss by water
1. Water fasting: This involves drinking only water for a set period of time.
It is regarded as a quick and temporary approach because you’ll most likely add the exact weight after the fast, or you’ll add even more. To find out more about the effect of fasting, check out this article on diet fasting, on WebMD. Also, it might not be healthy for you especially if you’re pregnant, or have a pre-existing health condition like diabetes.
It is, however, an effective method if you’re preparing for a program and you think losing a few would make you appear at your best.
Things to look out for when taking this approach:
- The duration of the fast. You might’ve come across some articles that talk about fasting for over 20 days to a month. That’s not safe, especially without medical supervision. If at all you need to shed some weight before an event, fasting for about 3 days before the event is considered fine.
- Make sure to break your fast on the day of the event, preferably with a light and healthy meal. You wouldn’t want to appear exhausted, nauseous, and grumpy on your big day, would you?
- Your current mental state: If you’re going through stress at work, or other forms of physical exhaustion, water fasting might be a bad idea. You’ll be adding hunger, constipation, dizziness and lack of energy to your already stressed state.
- Your overall goal: If you’re looking for a permanent weight loss, don’t water fast. It’s very much equivalent to starving yourself. You’ll definitely lose some weight, but at the expense of your overall well-being.
2. The permanent goal approach: This is where you are deliberate about using water as part of your overall weight loss toolkit. It is more effective, and of course, long lasting.
To lose belly fat and other surrounding body fat, this is the ONLY option. All you need for this, aside from water of course, is patience and faithfulness. Keep reading to find out more about how to make the most of water for a permanent weight loss result.
How does water help with weight loss?
All biochemical processes in the body require water for completion. One of these is metabolism, which is the way that substances, including fat, are burned out of the body.
Here are a few reasons why water can aid weight loss.
1. It suppresses your appetite:
When you feel hungry, your first response is usually to find food. However, eating might not be exactly what you need. Thirst, which is as a result of dehydration, is often mistaken for hunger by the brain, which is how the food cravings come to be. Eating food equals adding calories. If you can take a moment each time you feel hungry, to take some water first, before eating food, you’ll find that your calorie intake reduces by the day.
Drinking water is also highly satiating, as it travels through the body easily and quickly. This means that seconds after drinking, your brain is very likely to conclude that you’re full for the moment, and that means no stacking up on calories. Asides from your appetite for food, drinking more water would also reduce your intake of soda and other sugary drinks that contribute, albeit a little, to belly fat accumulation.
2. It aids metabolism:
Drinking water, especially cold ones, is also thermogenic. That is, it encourages the production of heat in the body. Before your body can make use of the water you consume, it has to be heated up to your internal temperature, and this requires energy. Therefore, water stimulates your metabolism, and enhances energy expenditure, all of which contribute to breaking down excess fat in your body.
3. It improves the effect of exercise:
When you perform any of your workout routines, electrical energy is generated to form muscle contractions that stimulate movement. This energy is produced by minerals in the body that require adequate water for optimum dissolution. Inadequate water causes cramping which is not only uncomfortable, but also belittles the function of your routines. Staying hydrated during exercise enhances heat release and reduces fatigue. This in turn allows you to work out much longer, and burn more calories.
4. It is important for lipolysis:
Lipolysis is the process by which the body breaks down fat for energy. The very first step in this process is hydrolysis, whose main driver is water. This means, drinking more water keeps you hydrated and enables your body to burn fat at a normal or increased rate.
How to lose belly fat by drinking water
1. Drink water before, during and after exercise:
As you’ve read earlier, water makes exercising more effective. There’s the fact that it lubricates the muscle and enhances heat release. It also helps replenish the water that you’re losing through your sweat. If you want to maximize the effect of your chosen workout routine, simply improving your water intake during the activities will go a long way.
2. Drink water before, during and after eating:
Water helps in food digestion and kidney maintenance. Sipping on water before and while you eat is an efficient way to prevent overeating. It’ll make you eat slowly, and you’ll get filled up faster. The less you eat, the less your caloric intake. The trick here is to give your brain enough time to process what you’re taking in, so it can easily tell when you’re full.
3. Make it interesting:
You’d agree with me that cutting down on sugary beverages, and drinking more water can get boring. You might start associating water with an unpleasant feeling. Nobody likes boring. So instead of waiting for that moment to come, try and spice things up once in a while. You can get creative by adding flavors to the water using your favorite fruits.
Good examples of these fruits are berries, cucumber and lemon. You can take a mixture of these or use one flavor per day, as long as it keeps you in love with the idea of drinking water. This gives you an opportunity to utilize the fat-burning ability of water, as well as that of your fruits of choice.
4. Replace sugary and sweetened beverages with water:
Have you taken an energy drink today? How about soda? Beer? All of these and their variations are additional calories to the ones derived from food. Here’s a brief breakdown of the effect of liquid calorie consumption, on USNews.
Make a mental note of how often you indulge in these drinks, then start by replacing one of those times with water, until water becomes your go-to liquid. Over time, the small changes will accumulate into substantial fat loss. Remember, you can always solve the problem of blandness by adding one or two natural flavors.
What quantity of water should you drink?
There’s a popular rule of “eight 8-ounce glasses per day” for your daily water intake. Or you may have come across the “2 litres per day” rule.
The truth is these are only rough estimates and do not apply to everyone. There are many factors that influence the amount of water that is healthy for daily consumption. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Lifestyle such as daily physical activities, and working conditions.
- Environment; humid or hot weather conditions
- Health conditions, etc.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has stated that the majority of healthy people drink water based on their thirst level. So, you can always pay attention to your body to know when to drink water. Remember to attend to any feelings of hunger with a glass of water, then food, only if the feeling persists. Also, don’t wait till you’re dehydrated, or thirsty, before you drink water.
If you’re more inclined to numbers, NASEM recommends that the daily requirement for women and men is approximately 91 and 125 ounces, respectively. The Mayo clinic also agrees that there’s no definite answer to how much water you should drink per day.
However, an easy way to assess your water intake is to monitor your urine color. The darker the color, the more water you should consume.
There is also such a thing as overhydration. This is when you’ve consumed more water than your body needs. This causes hyponatremia – a decrease in blood sodium due to excess water, and it can be life threatening.
There are 2 ways to avoid this completely: learn to listen to your body and its needs, or seek the help of a nutritionist or medical professional on the do’s and don’ts of water consumption specific to your body type.
Remember the goal here is to stay healthy by burning fat, not to invite a severe health condition.
Other benefits of water consumption
1. Clearer skin:
Being, and staying hydrated can improve your skin health, according to a research paper published in the journal of clinical, cosmetic and investigative dermatology. It will function the same way, or even better, than a moisturizer, and it can reduce sagging and formation of wrinkles.
2. Regulate blood pressure:
Irregular blood pressure is as a result of inability of blood to flow to places it’s supposed to flow. This stresses out your heart, and can lead to other health issues. Being dehydrated ensures that blood flow is normal. It prevents your blood vessels from constricting and causing hypertension, and reduces the risk of other heart conditions.
3. Boosts brain power:
Your brain, like the rest of your body, depends on water to function efficiently. Even the slightest level of dehydration can affect your productivity in terms of concentration, movement, and recollection. Staying hydrated means you give your brain the power it needs to serve you at its best. This has been supported by a scientific research on NCBI, National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Clearing out waste: Drinking enough water assists the body to produce urine, and in the movement of feces. That is, the higher your hydration level, the easier it gets for your system to clear out unnecessary products. Good riddance to constipation and bloating.
4. Improves motivation and reduces stress:
Dizziness and confusion usually result from dehydration. You’ll agree with me that these conditions are in no way suitable for making any decisions, let alone healthy ones. When you make a habit of staying hydrated, you feel less tired and are less inclined to make decisions like not exercising or eating junk food in an attempt to feel better.
An important thing to keep in mind is that spot reduction is a myth. You can’t, and shouldn’t, target only the belly when you’re trying to burn fat. Focusing on overall change saves you from feeling frustrated with your weight loss effort.
You may have already noticed, but adding deliberate water consumption into your weight loss toolkit is just that – an addition. It doesn’t work if it’s not complemented with exercises, healthy eating, healthy sleeping, or a healthy lifestyle. You should also remember that the so-called recommended litres of water per day won’t cause substantial decrease in calories within a day.
It is crucial to stay hydrated to enable your body to do its job. It’s also important that you be patient and let the water do its job too.
There’s a very slim chance that the fat loss will be centered on your middle section alone. Your target might be belly fat, but remember to check the overall improvement. An atomic or 1% decrease in fat per day, consistently, is better than an abrupt 20-40% drop, once in a while. Once your body knows to drop a certain calorie everyday, it becomes almost automatic with little effort from you.
Losing belly fat is as much of a psychological process, as it is physical and biological.
To healthy weight loss. Cheers!