Drinking water throughout the day is the most commonly used weight loss tactic, new research reveals.
It is more than three times as popular as reducing calorie intake and twice as popular as doing additional exercise.
The technique can be effective — one study has found that simply drinking a pint of water around 30 minutes before eating boosts weight loss by 5 times.
Alternatively, switching from drinks with calories to water or diet drinks helps people lose 4 to 5 pounds.
Drinking water works by making people feel more full before a meal, so that they eat less.
Water works as a natural appetite suppressant and may aid in the burning of calories and fat.
The conclusions come from a review of the weight loss attempts of 48,026 people who answered a US survey on health and nutrition.
As many as 42 percent of people reported trying to lose weight, up from 34% around 15 years ago, the results showed.
Despite this, the number of obese adults increased by almost one-fifth in a little under a decade.
Dr Lu Qi, study co-author, said:
“These findings suggest that although 34-42% of U.S. adults in our study reported weight-loss efforts, many of them might either not actually implement weight-loss strategies or apply a minimal level of effort, which yielded unsatisfactory results.
Reduced food consumption is one common strategy to lose weight, but modified diets are difficult to maintain.”
Other common weight loss techniques included eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting back on sugar intake.
While people reported doing more exercise to combat weight gain, they typically did not do enough.
Dr Qi said:
“These findings suggest a need to increase the promotion of effective strategies for weight loss, including caloric reduction and increased physical activity, among all adults attempting to lose weight.
Notably, adherence is the primary factor predictive of a successful response to a weight-loss attempt.
Therefore, weight-loss strategies that consider a participant’s preferences and abilities may help them stick with it long term.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the JAMA Network Open (Han et al., 2019).