Drinking water prior to a meal may reduce hunger, weight gain

There is a school of thought that says drinking two cups of water before a meal can promote weight loss. Fill up on no-calorie water so you’ll naturally eat less, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

But, so far, there hasn’t been much scientific evidence to back this popular theory. Some research is promising, however. A study published in the journal Obesity showed that people consumed between 75 to 90 fewer calories per meal if they drank two cups of water prior to eating.

The study was the first randomized controlled trial looking at water consumption and weight control, said lead author Brenda Davy, an associate professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech.

The researchers asked 48 adults to follow a low calorie diet for 12 weeks. Half of the volunteers were randomly assigned to the “water” group and drank two cups before the main meal. They lost about 5 pounds more than the group that did not consume water.

The water group was also able to keep the weight off after 12 months, said Davy, who presented new long-term data from the study on Monday at the American Chemical Society Conference.

“It’s a simple way to facilitate weight management,” Davy said.

It’s not known exactly how water consumption might help with weight loss. The volunteers in the study reported feeling more full and less hungry, “so we think a feeling of fullness is part of it,” Davy said.

Americans also suck down about 400 calories a day in beverages.

“The folks in the water group appeared to be substituting water for the beverages they normally consumed,” Davy said.

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