Recently, I've seen the merits of drinking large amounts of water and it's effects on fat loss mentioned in many places. In one day, I saw it mentioned in Craig Ballantyne's blog, Lyle McDonald's forum, and in two newspaper articles.

Time for me to add my two cents...

Overall, the research seems mixed. Whether drinking extra water has an effect or not remains to be proven. The original research showed that drinking two liters of water raised metabolism about 100 calories. That would definitely add up. The latest research says that the old research was wrong and that although cold water does raise the metabolism, it's a very small effect. So last year, cutting edge trainers recommended additional water for fat loss. Now they don't. I guess the research next year might show the opposite, and water will help again. Until the next research project shows differently, and we’re told that water really doesn't help…

As much as you should always study research, you have to learn to apply it in the real world. Regardless of the research, I work in the real world with real clients. Scientists and internet forum-ites can debate among themselves. I'm interested in real world fat loss and what works and what doesn't. So here's my take.

Dehydration inhibits fat loss. I'm convinced of this. In fact, dehydration will eventually kill you , and fat loss slows down a lot at that point! Before we worry about extra water intake, we need to worry about minimal and optimal fluid intakes.

Here’s the fluid intake per day of a typical beginner before he or she came to see me (and EVERYONE tells me they drink A LOT of water by the way):

Wake up: A cup of coffee

Mid morning: Coffee

Lunch: Diet soda

Afternoon: Coffee or diet soda

Dinner: Diet soda and occasionally wine or a beer

So you could make the case that the average beginner is not adequately hydrated anyway, never mind hydrated for training/fat loss/dieting, etc. I have rarely seen a client come in drinking more than about 16–20 ounces a day in the beginning stages.

Here's what we did at our gym. We bought half gallon jugs and slapped our logo on it. Every new client gets one. We tell them to fill it up first thing in the morning and make sure it's finished when you go to bed. Most clients don't have a problem with that, and some start drinking more water on top of that.

This seems to do two things. It adds much needed pure water to their systems and eliminates the crap that they were already drinking. Does it affect fat loss? I think it does in the early stages. However, the more important effect above anything else is that we're going from dehydration to optimal hydration. I don't think the "super-hydration" stuff being preached really amounts to anything. As usual though, in the real world, most of us just aren’t drinking enough pure water. I think there can be a ton of benefits to increasing water intake in general. Is an extra glass or two of clean water likely to hurt you much?