What could be a simpler health and weight loss booster than good ol’ drinking water?

Examining the diet of over 18,000 adults in the United States, a new study from University of Illinois found that a majority who upped their intake of plain water by 1 percent slashed their totally daily calorie consumption as well as intake of sugar, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

The paper by professor Ruopeng An showed that individuals who increased water intake by one, two, or three cups every day reduced their total energy intake from 68 to 205 calories, and their sodium consumption by 78 to 235 milligrams. They also took 5 to 18 grams less sugar, and 7 to 21 milligrams less cholesterol every day.

“The impact of plain water intake on diet was similar across race/ethnicity, education and income levels and body weight status,” he says, adding that the results may be enough to create nutritional programs and campaigns that promote replacement of calorie-laden beverages across population groups.

In his research, An analyzed data from a national survey, where subjects were tasked to recount what they consumed or drank over two days that were up to 10 days apart.

Qualifying as plain water sources in An’s study were tap water and water from a bottle, cooler, or drinking fountain.

The 1 percent climb in daily plain water intake was small but deemed statistically significant, translating to an 8.6 calorie reduction in everyday energy intake along with slight decreases in consumption of sugar-added drinks and foods with sugar, fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

The reduction was also seen greater among men, the youth, as well as middle-aged individuals, which he suggested could be tied to the groups’ higher food intake.

The findings were discussed in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

Experts agree that plain drinking water should be the beverage of choice when one is thirsty. This could have greater implications for one’s health and weight, considering that a takeoff point for hunger is likely low electrolyte levels in the body.

“To control voracious hunger, first reach out for a glass of water and then wait for five minutes before you decide to eat something,” explains clinical nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta on how drinking water helps prevent overeating.

Previous studies also echo this benefit, with a 2014 University of Birmingham study discovering that consuming 500 milliliters of water 30 minutes before the three meals of the day may help reduce weight.

Photo: Darwin Bell | Flickr

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