Drinking More Water Reduces Junk Food Consumption
Drinking just one more tall glass of plain water every day may help you drop some pounds and add years to your life.
This is the apparent conclusion of research conducted at the University of Illinois and published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.
The research was led by Dr. Ruopeng An, a kinesiology and community health professor at UI. Dr. An and colleagues examined the water consumption and diets of 18,311 adults.
Just one more cup
The research found that those who drank at least one cup of water (and up to three) more actually ate less fats and sugary foods. Heck, they ate far less junk food in general. They ate between 68 and 205 calories less per day. Their sodium consumption dropped by up to 235 milligrams per day. They ate 5,000 to 18,000 milligrams less sugar a day. And their cholesterol consumption dropped by up to 21 milligrams a day.
They also found that increasing plain water consumption by just 1 percent had the effect of significantly reducing the intake of sugar, sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat. This means less junk food.
Sources of plain water
The reduction of junky food was accomplished by drinking plain water from the tap or from a water cooler. Or bottled water or a drinking fountain. Easy stuff, yes?
Dr. An commented on the range of data:
“The impact of plain water intake on diet was similar across race/ethnicity, education and income levels and body weight status.”
Water versus dietary habits
The research analyzed health data from the 2005 to 2012 dietary studies from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These studies are conducted by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. The subjects recalled what they ate and drank over a two day period. This was done again with several days in between.
This allowed the researchers to calculate the amount of plain water each person drank in proportion to what they consumed otherwise. Plain water was only plain water: Teas and coffee – even if unsweetened – were not considered water in this study.
The research discovered that people drank a little over four cups of plain water on average. This was a little over 30 percent of their total water consumption.
They also found that people ate an average of 2,157 calories per day. This included 125 calories from sugary drinks and 432 calories from junk foods such as desserts or pastries.
Just a little more water
Every one percent increase in plain water consumption led to a reduction of calories per day. This one percent increase also meant reductions of sugar, fat, sodium and cholesterol.
This is not the first study finding that drinking more water is associated with eating better. A 2010 review of research from the University of North Carolina found a similar result. The research found that drinking a sugary drink before eating resulted in consuming 7.8 percent more calories of food compared to water. Replacing water with even milk or juice also increased calorie consumption. In other words, drinking water was associated with eating less and better nutrition.
How much water should you drink every day? What kind of water should you drink? What kind of filter is best? Is distilled water really healthy? Find out the answers to these questions:
An R, McCaffrey J. Plain water consumption in relation to energy intake and diet quality among US adults, 2005-2012. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2016 Oct;29(5):624-32. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12368.
Forrest S. Drinking more water associated with numerous dietary benefits, study finds. Illinois News Bureau. February 29, 2016
Daniels MC, Popkin BM. Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2010 Sep;68(9):505-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00311.x.