Eat Smart · Nutrition

How Water Can Aid Weight Loss

When reflecting back on the weeks spent studying for midterms, many of us sacrificed healthy rituals. Whether it was stress-feeding on 2:00 a.m. Domino’s or replacing gym workouts with studying, many students agree that they could have demonstrated better pre-exam practices. Even though students may have felt relief after their last exams, they may not have felt the same relief after stepping on a scale. Unfortunately, college students tend to lead more sedentary lives, especially around the time of exams, which can lead to unwanted weight gain. However, there’s no need to lose hope. One easy practice that requires little time and energy can help aid weight loss is simple: drinking water.

We’ve all heard about the eight cups a day rule, but how much are we actually drinking? According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day. With the cold climate rapidly approaching, we don’t feel as thirsty or sweat as excessively, but that doesn’t mean our bodies are any more hydrated. Although the human body requires at least eight cups a day to stay rejuvenated and drive efficient functioning of bodily organs, drinking water is also one of the easiest efforts students can incorporate into their weight loss or weight maintenance plan.

A popular belief about water involves its satiating qualities. Many diet and health books recommend drinking a glass of water before a meal or a social event, especially one that provides a wide assortment of food. The water ingested can make us feel fuller, explained by the way our bodies can mistakenly confuse the sensations of hunger with thirst. Located above the brain stem, the hypothalamus controls both hunger and thirst signals; therefore, when specific hormones are released as the stomach empties, we have trouble distinguishing what our bodies need: food or water. To solve this complication, try drinking a glass of water at the first indication of hunger before or after a meal. Rather than reaching for a snack right away, drink water and wait at least 15 minutes, as it might take that much time for the brain to tell the nervous system that the body was only thirsty. Reluctance to reach for a nosh can reduce the caloric intake of your diet. According to a study conducted at Virginia Tech, scientists followed a group of overweight subjects, ages 55 and up, on a low-calorie diet for three months. Half of these subjects were told to drink two cups of water before every meal and lost an average of 15.5 pounds, compared to an average of 11 pounds of the non-drinkers.

Most of the water in the body comes from our diet, 75 to 80 percent of it coming from fluids. It is our responsibility to maintain water balance, so try carrying around a refillable water bottle with you or set a goal to drink a cup of water or two at every meal. The taste of water may not always satisfy, but weight loss results definitely will.

By Allison Milch