Does Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight?

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD

Written by Vanessa Gibbs

Published 04/05/2024

Does drinking water help you lose weight? Believe it or not, it can. While this might sound too good to be true, there’s some solid science behind it.

But it’s not quite as simple as downing a glass of water or two. 

Read on to learn how drinking water can help you lose weight, when you should drink it and how much water you should be aiming for.

Yes, drinking water can help you lose weight. Research shows it can suppress appetite, stimulate metabolism, boost fat oxidation, reduce liquid calories and make exercising easier.

A 2014 study had 50 female participants with overweight drink roughly 51 ounces on top of their usual daily water intake. This was divided into about 17 ounces a half-hour before breakfast, lunch and dinner. Participants drank the extra water for eight weeks.

At the end of the experiment, their body weight, body mass index (BMI), body fat and appetite had all decreased.

More recent research has had similar findings. A 2022 review of studies concluded that “preloading water” — drinking water before meals — can promote weight loss. More specifically, drinking about 17 ounces before sitting down to eat may improve weight loss by two to five pounds over three months. Not bad for the humble glass of water.

So, does drinking a lot of water help you lose weight? It looks like it can!

But why does water help you lose weight, and how much water do you need to drink to lose weight? Read on for answers.

It’s clear that drinking more water can lead to weight loss. But how does water help you lose weight, exactly? It works in a handful of ways.

Water Suppresses Your Appetite 

Our brains are clever, complex things, but they often mix up the signals for thirst and hunger. When drinking more water, you’re less likely to feel “hunger” that’s actually just dehydration.

Water may also impact hunger hormones, including:

  • Ghrelin. This is the hormone that signals hunger to the brain.

  • Leptin. Leptin is an appetite-suppressing hormone.

  • Insulin. When insulin is imbalanced, you might feel hungry.

  • Cholecystokinin. This hormone stimulates the digestion of protein and fat. 

  • Glucagon-like peptide-1. Also called GLP-1, this hormone contributes to feeling full. 

In simple terms, drinking more water can suppress appetite while helping you feel fuller and more satisfied at meal times. This can lead to eating less, promoting weight loss.

For example, a 2021 study on people with type 2 diabetes found that drinking about 34 ounces of water a day before meals led to eating fewer calories and less fat. Over eight weeks, this resulted in a lower BMI, a smaller waist circumference and greater weight loss compared to the control group who didn’t drink any water before meals.

Drinking water also seemed to reduce levels of copeptin, a protein that — in high levels — is linked to a larger waist circumference, elevated blood pressure, high BMI and obesity.

Water Stimulates Your Metabolism and Burns Calories

Does water increase metabolism? Again, it sounds like wishful thinking, but the science is there.

Water may boost thermogenesis (heat production) in the body. This, in turn, increases your metabolic rate, providing you with more energy to move and burn off excess weight.

A small 2003 study with 14 participants found drinking around 17 ounces of water increased metabolic rate by 30 percent. The effect started kicking in 10 minutes after drinking water and reached its peak in 30 to 40 minutes. In absolute terms, the number of calories burned by doing this wasn’t too great, but on a weight loss journey, every bit can matter. Drinking colder water, it seems, burns more calories, because of the energy that needs to go into heating the water up.

Water Can Increase Fat Oxidation 

Water may increase the rate of lipolysis — the breakdown of fat for energy in your body. 

It becomes easier for your body to break down the fat in free fatty acids and transport it into mitochondria, which turn nutrients into energy in your cells. This means drinking water may increase fat oxidation, when your body burns fat for fuel.

Water Reduces Your Overall Liquid Calorie Intake 

This one’s pretty straightforward. When you’re drinking water, you’re not drinking soft drinks, sugar-laden fruit juices or alcoholic beverages that can contribute to weight gain. 

Swapping your usual lunchtime Coke and after-dinner beer for a glass of water is a simple change that cuts calories before you even think about overhauling your diet.

Plus, if you stay hydrated with zero-calorie water, you’re less likely to reach for a high-calorie, sugary drink to quench your thirst.

Water Makes Exercising Easier 

You might be upping your physical activity if you’re trying to shed a few pounds. Drinking water can help make this lifestyle change easier. 

Even mild dehydration can lead to: 

  • Reduced endurance 

  • Reduced motivation 

  • Increased fatigue

  • Increased perceived effort — your workouts feel harder 

Drinking enough water can reverse these effects and reduce the oxidative stress that exercise can cause.

When working up a sweat, you’ll lose more water than usual. So it’s even more important to keep a water bottle nearby and make sure you’re sippin’ on it throughout your workout.

You may have heard you should aim for eight glasses of water a day for optimal health. But there’s actually no hard-and-fast rule about how much water you should drink — and that’s even more true when it comes to water for weight loss.  

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommends about 91 ounces of water a day for women and 125 ounces for men. However, this is total fluid intake from food and drinks — not just glasses of water alone. 

Also, it’s not the same for everyone. How much water you need to lose weight depends on factors like your daily activity levels and how hot it is where you live.

And that’s just thinking about water for general health and well-being. How much water you should drink to lose weight might be whatever’s necessary to suppress appetite and reduce calorie intake — or it could all be about timing (i.e., upping your water intake before meals).

More research is needed on that front. 

For now, we say don’t worry too much about how much water a day for weight loss is best. Our advice is to drink when you feel thirsty, check that your pee is clear or light yellow (dark yellow signals dehydration) and consider drinking a little extra before meals to see if it affects your hunger and meal satisfaction.

Prescribed online

Weight loss treatment that puts you first

There’s no one best time to drink water for weight loss. That said, research suggests that drinking water before meals could help you eat fewer calories by:  

  • Reducing hunger

  • Increasing satiety (feeling full)

Try drinking 17 ounces — about a pint glass — of water 30 minutes before meals.

A 2010 study compared eating a low-calorie diet and drinking 17 ounces of water before meals to eating just a low-calorie diet alone. Participants who drank extra water lost over four pounds more than the other group. This resulted in a 44 percent greater decline in weight over the 12-week study.

Outside of meal times, drink plenty of water throughout the day. And avoid waiting until just before bed to get in your daily water intake — otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up for many middle-of-the-night bathroom trips.

Now that we’ve established that drinking more water could help you lose weight, it’s time to start drinking up.

Here are our tips to increase your water intake: 

  • Carry a water bottle with you everywhere — bonus points if it’s a reusable bottle you enjoy using.

  • Add a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber to your water if you don’t like the taste of it plain.

  • Drink water with meals — make it a non-negotiable on your dinner table. 

  • Freeze bottles of water or add ice cubes to your glass to enjoy cold water. 

  • Have a glass or bottle of water on your desk, next to the couch, in your gym bag, etc. Sometimes, you just need the visual cue to drink up.

  • Set reminders on your phone, download a water-drinking app (yep, those exist) or leave a Post-It note on your bathroom mirror. 

Can you lose weight by drinking water? Sure. But water is just one piece of the weight loss puzzle.

Healthy diet, exercise, stress management and adequate sleep are all key to sustainable weight loss. If you decide to up your water intake, don’t forget about the basics. 

If you’re looking to lose weight, here’s what you can try alongside drinking more water: 

  • Reducing calories that come from fats and sugars

  • Increasing fruits and veggies

  • Eating a variety of lean protein  

  • Getting at least seven hours of shut-eye a night

  • Getting two and a half hours of exercise throughout the week (or about a half-hour five days a week)

Chat with a healthcare professional for more personalized advice on your weight loss goals. Drinking water may be part of the strategy, but a meal plan, exercise routine, behavioral change tools or weight loss medication could also be useful.

Does drinking more water help you lose weight? As it turns out, yes, it can. But weight loss isn’t the only benefit of drinking more water. 

Water can help boost: 

  • Mental performance and energy. When dehydrated, you may find it harder to concentrate and stay alert. Your short-term memory could take a hit too.

  • Physical performance. Dehydration can lead to reduced endurance, fatigue and increased perceived effort — not what you want when working out.

  • Overall health and wellness. Adequate hydration can reduce your chances of kidney stones, constipation, exercise asthma, urinary tract infections (UTIs), high blood pressure and possibly fatal coronary heart disease. It might also lower your risk of developing a headache. Water can even help your hair grow.

The rumors are true: Drinking water can help you lose weight.

Here’s what you need to know:  

  • Drinking water has multiple benefits. It can reduce hunger, boost metabolism and increase fat oxidation while helping you stick to a workout plan. You might find you’re eating (and drinking) fewer calories when you start upping your water intake.

  • Drinking water before meals could help you eat less. A rigid water-consumption schedule may not be necessary. Still, you might try a glass or two about 30 minutes before meals. It could suppress your appetite, help you avoid overeating and make you feel more satisfied.

  • Don’t forget other essential factors for weight loss. If you’re drinking water to lose weight, don’t neglect diet, exercise, stress management and sleep. Weight loss often requires a multi-pronged approach. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a medical professional, dietitian or behavioral therapist for support and guidance.

It seems that good ol’ H2O can help you on your weight loss journey, but other weight loss treatments are out there. We recommend exploring your options to see what techniques might work and following the advice of a healthcare professional.

13 Sources

  1. Vij, V. A., & Joshi, A. S. (2014). Effect of excessive water intake on body weight, body mass index, body fat, and appetite of overweight female participants. Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine, 5(2), 340–344.
  2. Perry, D., & Chan, K. (2022). Water for weight loss. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 68(7), 519.
  3. Burls, A., Price, A. I., Cabello, J. B., & Roberts, N. W. (2019). Drinking extra water or other non‐caloric beverages for promoting weight loss or preventing weight gain. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2019(3), CD012211.
  4. Sedaghat, G., Montazerifar, F., Keykhaie, M. A., Karajibani, M., Shourestani, S., & Dashipour, A. (2021). Effect of pre-meal water intake on the serum levels of Copeptin, glycemic control, lipid profile and anthropometric indices in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of diabetes and metabolic disorders, 20(1), 171–177.
  5. Hofmeister M. (2022). Water for weight loss. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 68(11), 796.
  6. Boschmann, M. et al. (2003). Water-Induced Thermogenesis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 88(12), 6015-6019.
  7. Laja García, A. I., Moráis-Moreno, C., Samaniego-Vaesken, M. L., Puga, A. M., Partearroyo, T., & Varela-Moreiras, G. (2019). Influence of Water Intake and Balance on Body Composition in Healthy Young Adults from Spain. Nutrients, 11(8), 1923.
  8. Popkin, B. M., D'Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439–458.
  9. Institute of Medicine. 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
  10. Dennis, E. A., Dengo, A. L., Comber, D. L., Flack, K. D., Savla, J., Davy, K. P., & Davy, B. M. (2010). Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 18(2), 300–307.
  11. Obesity and overweight (2021).
  12. Causes of Obesity. (2022).
  13. Popkin, B. M., D'Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439–458.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Mike Bohl, MD

Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician, a Medical Advisor at Hims & Hers, and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup, where he is involved in pharmaceutical drug development. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years working in digital health, focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show (receiving recognition for contributions from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences when the show won Outstanding Informative Talk Show at the 2016–2017 Daytime Emmy® Awards) and at Sharecare. He is a Medical Expert Board Member at Eat This, Not That! and a Board Member at International Veterinary Outreach.

Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. He has graduate certificates in Digital Storytelling and Marketing Management & Digital Strategy from Harvard Extension School and certificates in Business Law and Corporate Governance from Cornell Law School.

In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. He has also spent time conducting orthopedic and biomaterial research at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland and practicing clinically as a general practitioner on international medical aid projects with Medical Ministry International.

Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.


  • Younesi, M., Knapik, D. M., Cumsky, J., Donmez, B. O., He, P., Islam, A., Learn, G., McClellan, P., Bohl, M., Gillespie, R. J., & Akkus, O. (2017). Effects of PDGF-BB delivery from heparinized collagen sutures on the healing of lacerated chicken flexor tendon in vivo. Acta biomaterialia, 63, 200–209.

  • Gebhart, J. J., Weinberg, D. S., Bohl, M. S., & Liu, R. W. (2016). Relationship between pelvic incidence and osteoarthritis of the hip. Bone & joint research, 5(2), 66–72.

  • Gebhart, J. J., Bohl, M. S., Weinberg, D. S., Cooperman, D. R., & Liu, R. W. (2015). Pelvic Incidence and Acetabular Version in Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. Journal of pediatric orthopedics, 35(6), 565–570.

  • Islam, A., Bohl, M. S., Tsai, A. G., Younesi, M., Gillespie, R., & Akkus, O. (2015). Biomechanical evaluation of a novel suturing scheme for grafting load-bearing collagen scaffolds for rotator cuff repair. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 30(7), 669–675.

Read more