Have you ever heard the saying: ‘you aren’t hungry, you’re just thirsty’?
This is often recommended as a weight loss strategy, therefore today, we explore whether this statement is true or not.
In other words, does your hydration status affect hunger and your desire to eat? And if so, does drinking more water reduce appetite and help calorie management better?
McKay et al (2018) put this hypothesis to the test through two experiments…
Forty-nine individuals were preloaded with either one, two or three 500mL bottles of water in the morning before a buffet style lunch.
As the hypothesis would suggest, those who drank three bottles vs one consumed less food at the buffet – but only in those classified as ‘normal weight’.
Out of the possible 3,800kcal on offer, the hydrated-normal weight individuals consumed 945kcal vs 1119 and 1120kcal: approx. 250kcal less.
However, those who were defined as overweight/obese, preloading with three bottles of water before heading to the buffet had no effect on appetite control.
All participants regardless of BMI consumed the same amount of water (not relative to bodyweight) – therefore, they further hypothesised that the smaller healthy weight individuals were more hydrated which impacted intake.
In a follow up study, 45 individuals further increased water intake to 4x500mL bottles before hitting the buffet – this time, preloading with water had no effect on hunger management in either healthy weight or overweight/obese.
Interestingly, both hunger levels and food liking scores decreased as they became more hydrated – but didn’t impact actual calorie intake.
This study certainly had a few limitations, but overall would suggest that water-mediated suppression of hunger gives individuals the impression they are going to eat less, but this unfortunately isn’t the case, and if so, only in certain circumstances.
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