You might commonly hear people suggest that you should drink more water if you’re trying to lose weight. But what is it about water that supports fat loss? Is it special in some way? Or are there some types of water that are better than others? And lastly, exactly how much water should you be drinking each day?

Keep reading to learn more about what the science says about water and weight loss, and how to include more of it into your weight loss meal plan.

Five Ways Drinking Water Supports Weight Loss

While the actual act of drinking water itself doesn’t necessarily help you drop pounds, drinking enough water can support weight loss a few different ways.

1) Water is Low Calorie

Water is calorie free and drinking more water instead of sugar sweetened beverages helps you eliminate empty calories from your diet.

If you’re having trouble shedding pounds, take a look at your fluid intake and make sure you are accounting for any additional calories your adding to your day. Many beverages can be high in added sugar and low in nutrition, which adds empty calories and could throw off your macros balance. In addition, liquid calories tend to not activate your fullness cues the same way solid food does, and you may still feel hungry afterwards. Even further, sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices in specific are associated with an increased risk of weight gain.

2) Promotes Hydration

Your body depends on water to survive and function properly. Being even mildly dehydrated can negatively impact brain function, mood, heart health, and your energy levels. And while you can get water from food and other beverages, there is no better source than water itself.

Dehydration can mess directly with your weight loss efforts when it causes food cravings. Hunger can be a sign of early dehydration, since your body is using up glycogen stores more quickly, and drinking water could help calm your appetite if this is the case.

3) Supports Metabolism

Water also plays multiple roles in the body including supporting digestion, nutrient absorption, and your ability to burn fat for energy. In fact, without water, your body cannot properly metabolize fat and carbohydrates. Some studies even suggest that drinking water could cause an increase in calorie output, supporting greater weight loss.

4) Calms Your Appetite

Water can help fill your stomach and may also help you feel more satisfied. Research suggests that drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal may help you eat less calories overall . In one study those who drank 2 cups (~16 ounces) of water before eating, lost 44% more weight in three months, compared to those who didn’t drink any water.

5) Supports Your Workouts

Staying properly hydrated is also crucial for for your fitness. Staying hydrated for your workouts can help reduce fatigue, increase endurance, lower your maximum heart rate, and help you to be less sore after exercise, helping you get more out of your gym session.

How Much Water Should I drink to Lose Weight

The actual amount of water you need each day can be highly dependent on the person. Your fitness level, overall diet, environment, and health conditions can all effect how much water is best. Most people get roughly 20% of their hydration needs from foods and the rest comes from liquids, including water intake. As a general rule of thumb, to support hydration needs and support your weight loss efforts focus on the following:

1. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning after waking.

2. Drink one to two glasses of water before each meal to help fill your stomach and curb your appetite.

3. Drink a cup of water 20 to 30 minutes before you workout and a cup for each additional 10 to 20 minutes of exercise, depending on the intensity level.

4. Drink water throughout the day when you feel thirsty.