A study published online Feb. 22, 2016, by the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics examined the dietary habits of more than 18,000 adults and found that those who increased their daily intake of plain water reduced their total daily calorie intake as well as their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium, and cholesterol.
On average, people drank about 4.2 cups of plain water daily, which accounted for about 30% of their total water consumption. The rest came from beverages like coffee, tea, and juice, and from food.
Participants’ average calorie intake was 2,157 calories, but 125 calories came from sugar-sweetened beverages and 432 calories from foods like desserts, pastries, and snacks. Yet those who increased their water intake by one, two, or three cups daily lowered their total daily calorie intake by 68 to 205 calories and their sodium intake by 78 to 235 milligrams (mg), according to the researchers. They also consumed 5 to 16 fewer grams of sugar and decreased their cholesterol intake by 7 to 21 mg. The changes were greatest among men.
The extra water appears to help in several ways, says researcher Dr. Ruopeng An of the University of Illinois. “Water helps increase feelings of satiety, which can help avoid overeating, as well as replace high-calorie beverages that have added sugar.” There are many ways to drink more water during the day, he adds. For instance, have a glass after every bathroom trip, when you wake up each morning, and with every meal.