Q: I’ve heard it’s a bad idea to drink water during meals, but I know hydration is important overall. What’s your position?
A: Hydration is one of my favorite topics, and I encourage you to be sipping on H2O 24-7—that includes water during meals.
The rumor that you should skip fluids while you eat comes from a flimsy thesis: some people say that water you drink while eating can affect your digestion by diluting the acid your stomach used to break down food. That, they claim, can prevent your body from absorbing nutrients properly and lead to bloating.
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But that theory is not supported by research, and even if we did find out there was some truth to it, the benefits of drinking water during meals (trust me!) would far outweigh that effect.
Benefits of Water During Meals
Research has shown that water during meals can help curb weight gain by preventing overeating. (We’re talking a couple glasses; don’t get so excited that you start chugging from that Swell bottle pre-dinner.)
In one study, adults who drank water right before digging in lost more weight than those who didn’t. Finishing off a glass while you wait for your steak salad to show up, it turns out, may cause you to feel full sooner.
Other studies have shown stopping for sips slows down the speed at which you eat, causing you to eat less overall. Eating at a slower speed allows you to check in with your hunger signals and usually makes a meal more enjoyable. And we all know enjoying what you eat is a big part of maintaining a sustainable balanced diet.
Liquids may also help move food through your digestive tract smoothly, so your water intake could actually prevent bloating and constipation. Score!
With all that going for it, it definitely makes sense to keep it up before, during, and between meals.