Growing up, my granddad always told me to drink warm water because it was supposedly better for my health and weight. I didn’t pay much attention to it back then and simply chalked it off as old people talk. Now that I’m older though, I realize he was just trying to hammer good habits into me.
Now, I ask: is drinking hot water good for weight loss? Or is it all a scam?
Apparently, my pops was right. Well, sort of. Hot water can be good for your health and weight but there are a lot of myths that surround it, too.
For one, drinking more water has been associated with weight loss for quite some time. However, it probably doesn’t matter much (or at all) whether the water you drank was warm, cold, or tepid. They all can help you consume fewer calories.
That being said, warm water does have its specific health benefits which, albeit indirectly, can help you get to a healthier figure. These include better gut health, circulation, fat burning, and a few others.
To hopefully convince you to add more water into your daily routine, I’m going to walk you through all these advantages – health- and weight-wise – today. Let’s get to it!
What are the benefits of drinking hot water?
First of all, when I say hot water, I don’t mean boiling hot, alright? I mean warm, or water that’s hotter than room temperature but not so much that it burns your tongue when you sip from the cup, or your finger if you dip it into the water.
If you want to get technical, a study says that the optimal drinking temperature for hot drinks is around 136℉ (57.8℃). This temperature should be high enough that you still feel the benefits but also safe from any thermal injury.
Now that that’s over with, let’s get straight to the benefits.
Symptomatic relief for flu and the common cold
A study shows that these drinks can provide instant and prolonged relief from the following symptoms of flu and the common cold:
- Runny nose,
- Sneezing, and
- Sore throat
Pretty cool, eh?
I personally benefit from these effects since my allergic rhinitis gives me these same symptoms every morning when I wake up. I just heat a mug of water, maybe mix in some tea, coffee, or a slice of lemon, and go about my merry way feeling so much better.
Enhance gastric motility
According to a study that examined the effects of different water temperatures on gastric motility and energy intake, water at 60℃ (140℉) resulted in greater gastric contractions compared to water with lower temperatures.
Unfortunately, the results of this study suggest that these gastric contractions are also correlated with increased appetites and, therefore, food intake.
On the brighter side, however, this can help people with constipation or other gastric issues.
Helps you adapt to cold temperature while working out
Here’s one benefit that may help you lose weight:
Per research, warm fluids make you sweat more and shiver less. The sweating part, we’ll talk about later but according to the research, the reduced shivering helps gross motor performance in the cold.
This is particularly important during the winter or whenever it’s cold because, according to the study, it also makes exercising easier.
I view this as one of the benefits of drinking hot water to lose weight as it helps you workout even in bad weather.
May help detox your body
Now, about sweating…
The previous study didn’t mention this but sweating more – which warm water does – is great for your general health. Though, to be honest, your sweat is mostly just water and very few parts of it are toxic waste.
However, water does help you urinate more and that’s another way to cleanse your system. According to another study, drinking more water reduces blood urea nitrogen concentrations which is a sign that your kidneys are doing a better job at flushing out metabolic waste products.
May help reduce anxiety and improve mood
According to a study, hot water can reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure just 30-60 minutes after drinking it. This effect alone is great but when you add caffeine and milk to your water (e.g. in the form of coffee or tea), the study says that it also comes with better mood and reduced anxiety.
Now, I get that hot water and hot tea/coffee aren’t the same things. All I’m trying to say is that you have choices in how you take your hot water and caffeine, as the study even says that these 2 are the primary reasons why the benefits to both mood and anxiety levels happen in the first place.
Based on the same research I just mentioned, hot beverages – including plain hot water – also increased skin temperature which is a sign of improved vasodilation and circulation.
This is particularly important for long-term health as better blood flow also means that nutrients and oxygen are distributed more efficiently which helps your lungs, heart, and muscles to function better.
Warm water is anti-aging
First, because water is obviously hydrating. As you get older, you also lose collagen and elastin which greatly affects your skin’s mechanical structure. This is partly why older men and women get wrinkles and fine lines in the first place.
According to research, drinking more water significantly impacts both superficial and deep skin hydration which, in turn, also improves your skin’s biomechanics.
Second, warm water improves circulation, as I just mentioned. What I didn’t mention, however, is that this improved circulation improves skin health and helps prevent premature skin aging because it also gets appropriate nutrition.
Other benefits of drinking hot water for skin include possibly preventing acne and promoting healing, though I haven’t found studies to support these claims.
Having gone through all these benefits, you might have noticed that only a few of them have any direct relation to losing weight. So, let’s circle back to the question:
Does warm water reduce weight?
Again, yes, it does. But it might not always be because of the hotter temperature.
Drinking more water aids weight loss primarily because it fills up space in your gut without actually holding any number of calories. The other weight loss or performance-based benefits from drinking warm water, to me, are simply bonuses.
On top of that, it seems like water also speeds up your metabolism, helping you burn more calories albeit only by a small margin.
Now, you might be asking:
How many calories does water burn?
A relatively older study from 2003 states that drinking 500 ml of water boosts your metabolism by about 30% or about 24 more calories. Scale that up to about 2 liters (approximately 8 glasses) and you’d be burning around 96 calories more per day.
While this research doesn’t directly say it, to me, it’s suggestive that the more water you drink, the more calories you can probably burn.
1 glass of hot water burns how many calories, you ask?
Around 12-13 kcal per glass based on the study’s values.
It’s not a lot, I know, you have to remember that the weight loss benefits of water principally come from it having zero calories while helping you control your appetite.
That being said, let’ talk about when you’re supposed to drink your water.
When to drink warm water for weight loss
Drink 2 glasses of water before your meals
According to research, people who consumed 500 ml of water (about 2 glasses) before every meal lost approximately 2 kg more than those who didn’t, resulting in 44% more weight loss over 12 weeks. This was because drinking water before meals also made them consume fewer calories.
On top of that, another research says that those who drank water before meals felt just as satisfied despite eating less food.
So, if you ever worried that this would take away from the joy of eating, it likely won’t.
Personally, it’s one of the things I do to make losing weight so much easier.
Drink water after delicious meals
Before I say anything else, know that I’m no expert in tasting stuff. I’m not fond of wine tasting, chocolate tasting, or whatever it is that people do nowadays to test their palate.
That being said, many experts believe that plain, lukewarm water is the best palate cleanser. I’m saying this because I’m sure you’ve noticed how some flavors linger in our tongues more than others, like any food with a considerable amount of garlic and onions for example.
These dawdling flavors may want you to reach for more food even if you already feel satiated. Therefore, cleansing your palate with water after a delicious meal may help give you more control.
Honestly, though, I can’t find any study that supports palate-cleansing as a weight loss technique. However, there have been numerous anecdotes of people saying this helped them in their weight loss journey. So, you might want to give it a try.
3 hours before bedtime
You might have asked other people about when to drink hot water and they may have told you that it’s a good idea to drink it before sleeping to help you relax. But, the truth is that this may or may not be true as there isn’t enough evidence to support or refute this claim.
However, if drinking hot water before sleep is something you feel like doing, Sleep Advisor says to do it 3 hours before you go to bed.
This way, there’s a lesser chance that you wake up in the middle of the night to pee. This is particularly important for weight loss as sleep deprivation has long been associated with obesity.
Warm water in the morning has tons of benefits
For instance, it helps clear out your nasal airflow (as previously mentioned). For people with allergic rhinitis such as myself, this can be a welcome addition to any morning routine.
Another benefit is, of course, hydration. Getting the recommended 7-9 of sleep is crucial but that’s also quite a long time to go without water, so make sure that drinking water is the first thing you do after waking up.
Drinking hot water in the morning also helps with regularity. Again, we’ve touched on this earlier but hot water enhances gastric motility. If your bowel movements weren’t particularly regular, then this might help fix it.
Indirectly, the augmented gastric motility may also make you feel hungrier during the day. You might not think it’s a good thing but, the way I see it, it could push you towards getting breakfast – and I think that’s awesome!
On that note, none of these seem like they’re directly related to weight loss and I won’t disagree. However, I also think that these things can turn into good, healthy habits – and that’s always going to be a key part of any sustainable weight loss transformation.
With that said, drinking warm water does have its cons. Let’s talk about that for a bit.
Disadvantages of drinking warm water
It can be too hot
The first and probably most obvious disadvantage of drinking hot water is that it can be too hot.
According to the American Burn Association, 80-90% of scalds are associated with cooking, drinking, or serving hot liquids. Coffee, in particular, is served at 175°F – a temperature that’s way hotter than recommended – and can scald if you’re not careful.
Moreover, if drinking water that’s too hot can burn your tongue and the roof of your mouth, it might also do damage to the more internal parts of your digestive tract, including your throat.
Also, children have a significantly higher risk for scald burns so practice caution especially when you have a child with you at home.
You could use a temperature if you want but, me, I just wait a few minutes after I pour my hot water into my cup and occasionally take small sips to check if it’s safe to drink.
It might be more contaminated
Considering how heat can be an effective way to kill germs, I was surprised to know that hot water, particularly if it’s hot tap water, can have more contaminants than its cold counterpart. But, alas. It’s true.
Contaminants from old and rusty pipes dissolve more readily in hot water. So, even if isn’t all that visible, the danger still might be present.
If you intend to drink straight from the faucet, it’s probably best to use cold water then manually heat it using your pot, kettle, or even your microwave.
Other disadvantages of drinking warm water include:
- Sleep disturbances,
- Overworking your kidneys, and
- Cellular imbalance
Although, these cons are all a product of drinking too much water (i.e. overworking your kidneys and cellular imbalance) or having it at the wrong time (i.e. sleep disturbances).
To end this, allow me to give you a recap on the effects of drinking hot water daily:
Warm water can offer symptomatic relief for flu and the common cold because it helps clear your nasal airways. This also makes it a great after-waking-up drink for those of us who have allergic rhinitis that flares up in the morning.
Other reasons why it’s great as a morning drink is that it promotes regular bowel movement and it might improve your mood. Oh, and it’s also good for your skin.
Having said that, the warmness of your water does very little to help you lose weight. It’s more timing and overall hydration that make bigger impacts.
Now, you might be asking: If hot water doesn’t do much, what about drinking cold water?
Well, that’s a topic for another discussion. For now, though, do me a favor and share this with your friends, will ‘ya? Thanks!