Most people know it’s important to drink plenty of water. No matter how old you are, drinking at least eight glasses of water each day — or a daily minimum of 64 ounces — will allow your body to perform its essential functions at peak levels. But what often comes as a surprise to even the most health-conscious individuals is that water can actively help people to lose weight.

More Water = Fewer Calories

First of all, many people believe that they can easily distinguish between being hungry and being thirsty. But the truth is that the human brain often confuses those two sensations. In other words, people might believe that they’re hungry when in fact they’re thirsty. As a result, they snack more throughout the day; they ingest more calories, and they gain more weight. Yet if people drink lots of water, they rarely feel thirsty, and thus they do not mistake thirst for hunger. Therefore, they consume fewer calories overall.

In addition, if you were to drink water instead of any sugary soft drinks or other high-calorie beverages that you guzzle on a regular basis, you’d take off more pounds. Consider this astonishing statistic: The average American drinks 400 calories every day.

Scientific Evidence

Put another way, water is basically the least expensive appetite suppressant in existence. Dr. Brenda Davy, an associate nutrition professor at Virginia Tech’s Fralin Life Science Institute, published a study in 2010 that examined the extent to which water lessens a person’s appetite. Davy’s results indicated that dieters who drink two 8-ounce glasses of water 20 or 30 minutes before meals lose more weight. They also lose weight faster. Specifically, Davy and her team discovered that these people consume 75 fewer calories per meal on average.

Additional Weight-Loss Properties of Water

There are even more ways in which water can help you attain your diet and fitness goals. When you consistently drink enough water, your body no longer has any reason to retain water. Therefore, your so-called “water weight” vanishes. More significantly, proper water intake boosts metabolic rates. When the organisms involved in metabolism — among them the kidneys, the liver, and the brain — are well-hydrated, they burn calories as fast as possible. On top of that, water allows you to exercise for longer periods of time and at greater levels of intensity. That’s because hydrated people experience fewer muscle cramps and less joint pain when they work out.

Water-Drinking Tips

If you’re a person who just doesn’t find water all that appealing, add some flavor to yours. For instance, you could squeeze oranges, lemons, or limes into your bottles or glasses. If this liquid tastes good, you’re almost guaranteed to drink a lot more. Just make sure that you aren’t adding any sugar or calories to your water supply.

Second, make drinking water an automatic behavior. Every time you pass a refrigerator at home or at work, reach inside and swig some water. This practice will fast become a habit, and as a result you’ll start drinking much more water each day without even realizing it.

Finally, drink your water cold. Your body will warm it up for you, and the process of heating it will burn even more calories.