Water has become the healthy person’s beverage of choice. Nutrition experts have urged Americans to drink water and other unsweetened beverages instead of sugary beverages to help lower the risk of obesity and diabetes. But can drinking more water on its own help you lose weight?

Some studies, such as this one from 2010 and this one from 2015, have found that drinking good old H20 right before a meal can help you eat less during it. But what about drinking more water throughout the day? Can staying well-hydrated help a person eat less overall?

A new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests the answer is yes — and that increasing your overall water intake can also help you cut down on saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and sugar, too.

Related: How to Stay Hydrated Without Gulping Water

University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An looked at data on more than 18,000 adults gathered from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2012. The data is based on the participants’ recall of what they ate and drank the day before.

People who drank an extra cup (8 ounces) of water a day ate 68 fewer calories. Those who drank three extra cups ate 205 fewer calories. People who drank more water also cut their sodium intake by 78 to 235 grams and consumed up to 18 fewer grams of sugar.

The effect “is moderate but meaningful,” An says.

"The impact of plain water intake on diet was similar across race/ethnicity, education and income levels and body weight status," An said in a press release. But he said the impact was greater among men and among young and middle-aged adults, probably because they consume more calories than women and older adults.

Related: 7 Signs You May Need a Drink (of Water!)

Some — but not all — previous research also suggests a positive link between water and weight loss. For example, a 2013 analysis of existing data published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that among people who were dieting for weight loss or weight maintenance, those who drank more water in addition to following a weight loss program reduced their body weight more than people who just followed the program. However, the authors noted other data they examined yielded inconsistent results, and said the evidence for a link between increased water consumption and weight loss "is still low, mostly because of the lack of good-quality studies."

A 2012 study showed drinking water or diet beverages in place of sugary beverages for six months led to a “significant reduction in weight and waist circumference.”

However, a 2015 study from Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute concluded further research is needed “to determine if/what specific conditions optimize drinking water interventions for weight management.”

Related: Lemon Water: The (Somewhat) Bitter Truth


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Angela is a Pulitzer Prize-winning digital editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and information to audiences worldwide. Prior to joining SafeBee, she was the features editor for Boston.com at The Boston Globe, overseeing health, travel, entertainment, business and lifestyle coverage. Before moving to features, she was the news and homepage editor, covering stories such as the Boston Marathon bombing, Red Sox World Series victories, presidential elections, a papal inauguration, and more. Her favorite safety tip: Clean your phone! The average cell phone has 18 times more germs than the toilet handle in a men’s restroom.