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How Much Water to Drink a Day for Weight Loss?

Wondering how much water to drink a day for weight loss? Ask Dr. Erica Schulte, clinical psychologist and weight management researcher.

Ask Dr. Schulte: How much water to drink a day for weight loss?

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The Science Says…

A study by Dennis and colleagues (2010) found that adults following a low-calorie diet who consumed 17 ounces (500mL) of water before each of their three daily meals lost 44% more weight in 12 weeks than those who were not asked to follow any water intake guidelines (but were also eating a low-calorie diet). The researchers concluded that drinking this water ahead of meals helped participants feel more full, which resulted in eating fewer calories at the meal. Vij and Joshi (2014) similarly found that drinking 17 ounces (500mL) of water 30-minutes before each of the three daily meals was associated with weight loss, improved body composition, and reduced appetite, though this study did not compare participants who did versus did not follow these guidelines.

In addition, another study by Akers et al. (2012) observed that asking participants to track their daily water intake, in addition to tracking the more typical habits (e.g., body weight, food intake, step count), had significant benefits for weight loss. Participants asked to track their water intake lost 87% more weight over a 12-month period.

Overall, the science provides support for weight loss benefits related to:

  1. Drinking 17 ounces (500mL) of water before each of your three main meals each day
  2. Tracking your daily water intake

Your Guide to Increasing Water Intake

Changing your habits can be a difficult task, so it can be useful to have a plan to follow for gradual changes. This plan is designed to help you work up to drinking 17 ounces of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner– consistent with the recommendations from two research studies.

Remember, increasing your water intake overall, even if you aren’t following this timing, is also going to be beneficial! Your best efforts are always good enough, so be patient with yourself if it is challenging to change your habit!

Overall tips:

  • Keep water with you at all times
  • Consider setting a timer about 45-60 minutes before meals so you can remind yourself to drink your water ahead of time!
  • Keep a log of your water intake, so you know whether you’re hitting your goals each day
  • Put lemon wedges or other fruit into your water to give it a bit of flavor!

The 8-week plan to increase your water consumption!

  • Week 1: drink 2 ounces of water before each meal
  • Week 2: drink 4 ounces of water before each meal
  • Week 3: drink 6 ounces of water before each meal
  • Week 4: drink 8 ounces of water before each meal
    • Now you’re drinking about as much water as fits into a juice glass
  • Week 5: drink 10 ounces of water before each meal
  • Week 6: drink 12 ounces of water before each meal
  • Week 7: drink 14 ounces of water before each meal
  • Week 8: drink 17 ounces of water before each meal

Make Drinking Water More Fun!

One of the best ways to change your habit is to find a way to increase your excitement about it! You could consider treating yourself to some accessories to help you look forward to drinking water and meeting your water intake goal every day!

Some ideas include:

  • Chic glassware, such as this colorful set, will remind you that drinking water is an act of self-care
  • A water bottle that doesn’t leak with condensation, such as my favorite brands S’well and bkr — these are great to throw into your backpack or briefcase!
  • Water tumblers with straws for easy drinking, like these
  • Water bottles with reminders for when to drink throughout the day, such as this one
  • A water bottle with a build-in infuser, for a zero-calorie way to enjoy natural flavored water!
  • For the techie, this water bottle by Hidrate is Bluetooth enabled and sends you notifications for when you drink throughout the day!
  • A timer to help remind of when to drink water before meals

Dr. Schulte’s Summary

Research has found that increasing and tracking your water intake may help with weight loss. Two studies specified that drinking 17 ounces (500 mL) of water before each of your three meals may help you eat fewer calories at the meal, which may increase your weight loss! Use the step-by-step guide to slowly increase your water intake over time, and consider finding accessories that make you excited about meeting your water goals!

For other weight loss tips, check out my posts, such as this one on portion control or these strategies for meal preparation!

Questions? Drop a comment below or send an email to!


Akers, J. D., Cornett, R. A., Savla, J. S., Davy, K. P., & Davy, B. M. (2012). Daily self-monitoring of body weight, step count, fruit/vegetable intake, and water consumption: a feasible and effective long-term weight loss maintenance approach. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics112(5), 685-692.

Dennis, E. A., Dengo, A. L., Comber, D. L., Flack, K. D., Savla, J., Davy, K. P., & Davy, B. M. (2010). Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle‐aged and older adults. Obesity18(2), 300-307.

Vij, V. A. K., & Joshi, A. S. (2014). Effect of excessive water intake on body weight, body mass index, body fat, and appetite of overweight female participants. Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine5(2), 340.

Disclaimer: all opinions are my own and are not affiliated with my employers. Please seek medical guidance before pursuing weight loss or making significant changes to the way you eat or your physical activity routine.

2 replies on “How Much Water to Drink a Day for Weight Loss?”

Drinking water can be so challenging for so many people(me being one of them). But I think that water bottle with a build-in infuser will do the magic for me. It is very affordable as well. It looks amazing and it will definitely motivate me to drink water and carry it around everywhere I go.

Awesome, Mimie! I agree that fruit-infused water just makes hydration feel more luxurious. I hope it helps! 🙂 

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