For people who want to control their weight or reduce their intakes of sugar, sodium and saturated fat, tap water may be what the doctor ordered.
A new study that examined the eating habits of more than 18,300 U.S. adults found that most people who increased their intake of plain water (tap water or water from a cooler, drinking fountain or bottle) by 1 percent reduced their total daily calorie intake as well as their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.
People who increased their consumption of water by one, two or three cups per day decreased their total calorie intake by 68 to 205 calories daily and their sodium intake by 78 to 235 milligrams.
They also consumed 5 to nearly 18 grams less sugar (one to 4.5 teaspoons worth) and decreased their cholesterol consumption by 7 to 21 milligrams daily.
The impact of drinking more water intake on diet was similar across race/ethnicity, education and income levels and body weight status.
Drinking water before meals helps speed weight loss.
The researches, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, examined data from four waves (2005-12) of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. Participants were asked to recall everything they ate or drank over the course of two days that were three to 10 days apart.
They then calculated the amount of plain water each person consumed. Beverages such as unsweetened black tea, herbal tea and coffee were not counted as sources of plain water.
On average, participants consumed about 4.2 cups of plain water on a daily basis, accounting for slightly more than 30 percent of their total dietary water intake. Participants' average calorie intake was 2,157 calories, including 125 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and 432 calories from discretionary foods such as desserts, pastries and snack mixes that add variety to but are not necessary for a healthy diet.
The researchers observed that the impact of water on calorie intake and diet quality were greater among men and among young and middle-aged adults.
Source: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, online March 2016.
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