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Weight loss is easy! Just drink 2 cups of water before meals

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August 24, 2010 (foodconsumer.org) -- Forget about fad diets like Atkin's and the South Beach diets and throw away your Alli the weight loss pills. A new study suggests that weight loss should not be that complicated and expansive, and drinking a couple of glasses of water prior to meals is all that is needed to shed pounds.

The study led by Brenda Davy, associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise at Virginia Tech found greater weight loss among those drinking two cups of water before each meal compared to those who did not.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

For the study, the researchers assigned one group of overweight and obese men and women aged 55 to 75 a low-fat, low-calorie diet; the other group was given the same diet, but was told to drink two cups of water before each of three meals a day for 12 weeks.

By the end of treatment, those who drank water before meals had lost 15.5 pounds compared  to 11 pounds of weight loss among those who did not drink water. The difference was almost 30 percent.

The researchers found from previous research that drinking water before meals can reduce calorie intake by 75 to 90 calories per meal.

They initially suspected that the water drinking method would be moot because they feared that subjects would opt to compensate after the study for the calories they lost during the study.

However, the reality was that Davy et al. observed that the subjects did not rush to eat extra calories to compensate whatever calories they gave up. 

It is common sense that eating fewer calories or practising calorie restriction can lead to weight loss.  The only concern is whether any weight loss regimen can be sustained after treatment.

Davy and colleagues continued following the subjects for a year and found that those who continued drinking water prior to meals kept pounds off; some subjects kept losing more weight.

Davy was cited as saying it would take longer time for older people to empty water from their stomachs, which makes them feel fuller and less hungry.  Younger people, however, finish the process much faster, meaning that this method may not work as well for younger adults.

A health observer commented that this method does not work for those who need high amounts of calories for their jobs.

Dr. Colin T. Campbell, a distinguished nutrition professor at Cornell University suggests in his book China Study that eating plant-based foods can give people enough of the calories  they need, but would not cause obesity.

Dr. Campbell cited his own study saying that Chinese people in rural areas eat more calories than Americans, but fewer of them there are obese. 

He suggests that this is due to the difference in protein intake.  He pointed out those Chinese people have lower protein intake, particularly of animal protein than their American counterparts: 10 percent versus more than 15 percent.

Editing by Rachel Stockton