Fitness and public health specialists often suggest drinking six to eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy and to lose weight. Unfortunately, there’s little scientific basis to this recommendation, says Spero Tsindos in an editorial in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Excessive water consumption is driven in part by “vested interests,” says Tsindos. Plastic water bottles carried by people to and from the gym, on the subway, or out to dinner have turned drinking water into a fashion statement.
There’s also a misconception that drinking several glasses of water can help you lose weight. The only thing that water does for certain is reduce your appetite. Tsindos points to studies showing that water consumed in food is actually more effective at promoting weight loss.
More importantly, we often overlook other sources of water—such as juices, fruits, vegetables and other beverages. Many believe that this water doesn’t count, but your body absorbs it in the same way as the ultra-filtered spa water in your trendy aluminum bottle.
Some guidelines suggest you skip caffeinated beverages, which are labeled as diuretics—causing you to lose water by producing more urine. Research, however, suggests that coffee and tea are not as bad as their reputation.
Rather than trying to drink a specific number of glasses of water a day, says Tsindos, you should consider your overall fluid intake. This includes not only tap and bottled water, but also water found in unprocessed fruits and vegetables, and juices—and yes, even coffee and tea.