The simple act of drinking water half an hour before a meal has been shown to aid. weight loss. [photo: Bigstock]

Glass of water before meals aids weight loss

5 January, 2016

Natural Health News — Could weight loss be as simple as having a large glass of water before meals?

Researchers from the University of Birmingham in the UK have shown that drinking half a pint (500ml) of water half an hour before eating main meals may help obese adults to lose weight.

Writing in the journal Obesity they suggest that this simple intervention could be hugely beneficial, but also easily promoted by healthcare professionals and through public health campaigns.

What you need to know

» Losing weight can be difficult for anyone. Deprivation diets in particular can be hard to follow for long periods.

» Researchers have discovered that a simple intervention – drinking a half a pint of water before a meal – can significantly aid weight loss.

» People in the study who drank water before each meal lost close to 10 pounds on average over a 12 week period while still eating sensibly.

For the study, 84 obese adults were recruited from general practices and monitored over a 12 week period.

Each person was given a weight management consultation, where they were advised on how to adapt their lifestyle and improve their diet and levels of physical activity.  But 41 were asked to drink water before meals, and 43 were advised to visualise that they had a full stomach before eating.

Significant weight loss

Those in the group who were instructed to ‘preload’ with water lost, on average, 1.3kg (2.87lbs) more than those in the visualisation group.

Those who reported preloading before all three main meals in the day reported a loss of 4.3kg (9.48lbs) over the 12 weeks, whereas those who only preloaded once, or not at all, only lost an average of 0.8kg (1.76lbs).

Dr Helen Parretti, NIHR Clinical Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, and one of the authors of the study, explained, “The beauty of these findings is in the simplicity. Just drinking a pint of water, three times a day, before your main meals may help reduce your weight.”

“When combined with brief instructions on how to increase your amount of physical activity and on a healthy diet, this seems to help people to achieve some extra weight loss – at a moderate and healthy rate. It’s something that doesn’t take much work to integrate into our busy everyday lives.”

Keep water on tap

Participants were encouraged to drink tap water. Sparkling water, sodas or sweetened drinks were not allowed as part of the study.

The team hope that these encouraging findings will inform further research into the benefits of water preloading before meals. They hope to receive backing for a trial with a larger number of participants and over a longer period of time in order to confirm the findings.

Dr Parretti adds, “Losing a few extra pounds over the course of a year can be significant to an individual, and this could be an easy way to help with that weight loss. It’s a simple message that has the potential to make a real contribution to public health.”