Drinking water with meals – does it help with weight control?

The Introductiondrinking with meal

Water comprises about 60% of human body weight and is critical for life. Without water, we can survive for just 2–4 days. For we masters athletes, water is critical to allow us to perform at our best in training and competition. However, there are many unanswered questions about whether consuming water is superior to consuming other fluids or about the exact effect of replacing water with other fluids (e.g. milk and diet drinks) in the diet. Consensus is emerging that food intake is not reduced when energy-rich beverages are consumed and there is a need to further explore how energy intake and weight status are affected by the selection of various beverages compared to water in the diet. This research suggests water taken near a meal reduces the daily energy intake and thus helping us lose weight.

The Research

This systematic review of studies reported in the English-language literature was performed to compare the effects of drinking water and various beverage alternatives on daily energy intake and/or body weight. Eligible studies evaluated drinking water and one or more of the following comparison beverages: milk, fruit juice, and both diet and non-diet sweetened beverages (i.e. soft drinks and fruit drinks), or no beverage. These beverages were selected because they are commonly consumed and relevant to health.

The Results

Total daily energy intakes were 7.8% higher when sugar-sweetened drinks (juices, soft drinks) were consumed compared to water. Studies comparing diet drinks with water were also relatively consistent and found no impact on energy intake among adults. Much less conclusive evidence was found in studies replacing water with milk and juice, with estimated increases in daily energy intake between 10.9 to 23.9%. Among adults, meal energy intakes increased about 9% when pre-meal water was removed. When having soft drinks instead of water with meals, daily energy intake was approximately 8% higher.

The So What?

These findings strongly suggest water has a potentially important role to play in reducing energy intake, and consequently in obesity prevention in the general population and helping older athletes lose fat weight.

Daniels, M.C. and Popkin, B.M. (2010) Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews, 68(9): 505-521.

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