Water for Weight Loss?

Overweight teens or their parents have probably heard that drinking water can help them lose weight, and they may wonder if this is true. While there are quite a few myths about water and weight loss, there is some truth to the idea that water plays an important part in a healthy weight loss plan.


Water plays an important role in teen’s health, and can help teens in their efforts to lose weight. While there is no miracle water diet that will help teens shed a lot of weight in a hurry, here are some ways that water helps in weight loss:

  • Drinking water instead of high-calorie drinks like sodas, sports drinks, or fruit drinks can help teens significantly reduce their calorie intake and shed the extra pounds put on by those drinks.
  • Studies show that drinking a healthy amount water may cause a slight increase in metabolism, equal to about 5 pounds of weight loss per year.
  • Sometimes the body confuses the signals for hunger and thirst, so if teens try drinking water before having a snack, they may find they don't feel hungry, or at least not as hungry.
  • Eating foods with a high water content, like fruits, vegetables, and broth-based soups, helps teens feel more full and provides fiber and other important nutrients, helping to reduce snacking and feelings of hunger.

There are many misconceptions about water and weight loss, some of which can be dangerous, so it’s important for teens to know some other facts about water and weight loss:

  • Water does not flush fat out of the body. Fat is stored in the body and must be lost by burning more calories than a person consumes.
  • Water cannot take the place of food. Low calorie diets that tell teens to drink water to feel full are usually unsustainable and can be dangerous, leading to malnutrition and other health problems.
  • People do not necessarily need to drink 8 glasses of water per day. Teens should drink enough water that they don’t feel thirsty, but should not force themselves to drink more than they need.
  • There is a danger in drinking excessive amounts of water, which can cause an electrolyte imbalance in the body, which is sometimes fatal. Too much water can also interfere with the kidneys' ability to filter toxins out of the body.

Water has a role in helping overweight teens lose weight, but teens need to be sure they are getting all the nutrition they need too. A teen who has been exercising or sweating a lot, for instance, may need more than water to drink, like a sports drink with electrolytes or even a glass of low fat chocolate milk. They should be careful, however, not to drink so many calories that they replace all those they've just burned.

Teens should not rely on water alone to help them lose weight. They need to focus on eating a healthy diet, getting reasonable amounts of exercise, and taking care of themselves in other ways like getting enough sleep and finding time to do things that help them relax or have fun. A doctor can help teens determine the best way for them to lose weight.

A teen who often feels excessively thirsty despite drinking plenty of water should see a doctor to check for health problems.

Sources:

Salynn Boyles, WebMD Health News, "Drinking Water May Speed Weight Loss" [online]
Dr. Melina Jampolis, CNN Health, Expert Q&A, "Can drinking lots of water help you lose weight?" [online]
Jessica Salter, The Telegraph, "Drinking water alone does not aid weight loss" [online]
Allison Aubrey, NPR News, "Five Myths About Drinking Water" [online]
US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, PubMed.gov, Abstracts, "Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity" [online]

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