The Best Time to Drink Water for Weight Loss

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A person holding a glass of water.

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the fridge, staring at a slice of cake, and wishing there was an easier way to lose weight?

Well, what if I told you that one of the simplest tools for weight loss might already be in your kitchen? That’s right – it’s water!

But here’s the catch: it’s not just about how much water you drink, but when you drink it that can make a difference in your weight loss journey.

We’ve all heard that we should drink more water, but timing your water intake strategically could give your weight loss efforts an extra boost.

What is the Best Time To Drink Water For Weight Loss?

Drinking water about 30 minutes before meals can help reduce your appetite. Here’s how it works:
When you drink water before a meal, it partially fills your stomach. This sends signals to your brain that you’re starting to feel full.

As a result, when you start eating, you may feel satisfied with less food.

The water takes up space in your stomach, leaving less room for food and potentially reducing the amount you eat during the meal.

On a biological level, drinking water before meals can affect hormone levels related to hunger and fullness.

It may increase the production of hormones that make you feel satisfied while decreasing hormones that stimulate hunger.

This hormonal shift can lead to reduced appetite and lower calorie intake during the meal.

Additionally, sometimes our bodies confuse thirst with hunger.

By drinking water before meals, you ensure you’re well-hydrated, which can prevent you from mistaking thirst for hunger and overeating as a result.

Also Read: Best Time To Drink Coffee For Weight Loss

Optimal Times To Drink Water For Weight Loss

Using it as a Replacement for High-Calorie Drinks

Replacing high-calorie beverages with water directly reduces caloric intake. Many drinks contain added sugars, which provide empty calories without nutritional benefits.

For example, a 12-ounce can of soda typically contains about 150 calories, mostly from sugar.

The body processes these liquid calories differently than those from solid food, often failing to register them in its satiety signals. This can lead to overconsumption.

Water, being calorie-free, helps create a calorie deficit when substituted for these drinks.

A calorie deficit of 3,500 calories equates to about one pound of fat loss.

By consistently choosing water over caloric beverages, you can achieve significant calorie reduction over time, supporting weight loss efforts.

Also Read: The Best and Worst Drinks For Weight Loss

30 Minutes Before Meals

Drinking water 30 minutes before meals leverages the concept of gastric distention. When you consume water, it fills the stomach, stretching it slightly.

This stretching activates stretch receptors in the stomach wall, which send signals to the brain via the vagus nerve, indicating a sense of fullness.

This pre-meal water consumption affects hormone levels related to hunger and satiety. It can increase the production of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that promotes feelings of fullness.

Simultaneously, it may decrease ghrelin, often called the “hunger hormone.” This hormonal shift can lead to reduced appetite and lower calorie intake during the subsequent meal.

A study published in the journal Obesity found that participants who drank 500ml of water 30 minutes before meals lost 44% more weight over a 12-week period compared to those who didn’t.

When You Are Fasting

During fasting, water plays a crucial role in managing hunger and supporting metabolic processes.

When fasting, the body enters a state called ketosis, where it begins to burn stored fat for energy.

Adequate hydration is essential for efficient fat metabolism and the removal of ketone bodies, which are byproducts of fat breakdown.

Water can help manage hunger pangs by creating a sense of fullness in the stomach. While it doesn’t provide calories, the volume of water can temporarily satisfy the physical sensation of hunger.

This can be particularly helpful during the initial phases of a fast when hunger is often most intense.

Also Read: Is Intermittent Fasting Good For Weight Loss?

Potential Benefits of Drinking Water for Weight Loss

Drinking water can support weight loss efforts in several ways. Here are some potential benefits

Calorie reduction

Water is calorie-free, making it an excellent replacement for high-calorie beverages.

By substituting water for sugary drinks, alcohol, or other caloric beverages, you can significantly reduce your daily calorie intake without changing your diet otherwise.

This simple swap can create a calorie deficit over time, contributing to gradual weight loss.

Appetite suppression

Drinking water before meals can help reduce appetite.

It creates a feeling of fullness in the stomach, potentially leading to reduced food intake during meals.

This effect is partly due to the stomach’s stretch receptors signaling fullness to the brain, and partly due to the impact on hunger-related hormones.

Increased metabolism

Drinking water can boost your body’s energy use, which means you burn more calories.

This happens because when you drink water, it makes your body work a bit harder, like making your heart rate go up and your metabolism work faster.

There was a big study where 50 girls who weighed a bit more than they wanted to were asked to drink a big glass of water (500 ml) before each meal, three times a day, for eight weeks. They did this on top of the water they usually drank.

After the study, the numbers showed that the girls had lost weight. Their average weight went from 65.86 kg to 64.42 kg, and their BMI, which is a number that tells you if you have the right amount of body fat, went from 26.7002 to 26.1224.

These changes were big enough to say for sure that they happened because of the water.

Also Read: The Best Time To Drink Olive Oil For Weight Loss

Downsides of Drinking Water for Weight Loss

While drinking water can be beneficial for weight loss, it’s important to be aware of potential downsides:

Overhydration risk

Overhydration, or water intoxication, occurs when the body takes in more water than it can process and excrete.

This leads to an imbalance in electrolytes, particularly sodium.

When sodium levels in the blood become too diluted (hyponatremia), it can affect brain function and, in severe cases, lead to seizures, coma, or death.

The kidneys of a healthy adult can process 0.8 to 1 liter of water per hour.

Consuming more than this consistently can overwhelm the body’s ability to maintain electrolyte balance.

While rare in everyday situations, this risk increases during intense physical activities or in people with certain kidney or heart conditions.

False sense of fullness

While feeling full from water can help reduce calorie intake in the short term, relying too heavily on this method might lead to inadequate nutrient intake over time.

The body needs a balance of macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) for optimal function.

If water is consistently used to replace meals or snacks, it could lead to nutritional deficiencies. This, in turn, could slow metabolism and make weight loss more difficult in the long run.

Masking hunger cues

Our bodies have evolved complex systems to signal hunger and fullness.

Consistently using water to suppress these signals might lead to a disconnection from natural hunger cues.

This could result in ignoring genuine hunger, potentially leading to under-eating and subsequent overeating when hunger becomes overwhelming.

Over time, this pattern could disrupt a healthy relationship with food and potentially lead to disordered eating patterns.

Increased bathroom trips

Increased water intake naturally leads to more frequent urination.

The body can only store so much water before it needs to be expelled.

While this isn’t harmful, it can be inconvenient, especially in work or social situations where frequent bathroom breaks might be disruptive.

This inconvenience might discourage some people from maintaining increased water intake, potentially limiting the benefits they could gain from proper hydration.


The best time to drink water for weight loss benefits is about 30 minutes before meals. This strategy uses water as an appetite suppressant.

By drinking water before you eat, you can help your stomach feel fuller, which may lead you to eat less during your meal.

This simple trick can help cut down on calories without leaving you feeling hungry.

Remember, drinking water instead of sugary drinks and using it to curb your appetite before meals are easy ways to support your weight loss journey.

But keep in mind, that drinking water isn’t a solution for weight loss – it works best when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission for purchases made through links at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Rahul is a professional nutritionist certified by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and a personal trainer certified through the American Council of Exercise (ACE). He has a special interest in the science of nutrition and how it can impact the body.

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