Water has zero calories, zero SmartPoints value—and lots of benefits. It helps your body systems, including digestion, run smoothly and keeps your joints, spine, and muscles functioning well. The best benefit of all? Water can help your weight loss! If you’re following a weight-loss plan, drinking a glass or two of water before a meal might help you take in less food. And if you sip water between bites, you might eat more slowly—and that can also help you eat less, because you’re allowing more time for your brain to get the signal from your stomach that it’s satisfied. And, not surprisingly, water makes a better option than sugar-sweetened beverages when it comes to shedding pounds.
Ok, so we’ve established that water’s a good thing—though depending on what you choose, it might not always be. But how much water should you be swigging? Well, the National Academy of Sciences recommends about 3 liters or 12 to 13 cups a day if you’re between 19 and 50 years old. But you can get some of that from food—including soup, fruit, salad, and so on. And, yes, coffee, tea, and other beverages count toward your water intake. (Just remember to keep an eye on sweeteners and add-ins.)
Some experts advise at least half an ounce of water per body weight in pounds (so if you weigh 180, you’d aim for 90 fluid ounces—about 11 cups), but if you let your thirst be your guide, aim to have water frequently throughout the day, and are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, you should be set! Remember to drink more often if you’re outside on a hot day, or you’ve been working out vigorously.
What if water’s just not your favorite flavor? Dress it up—and don’t stop with lemon slices! Try gently mashed berries (the better to release their flavor and aroma), watermelon, peaches, or pineapple. Steep sliced ginger in hot water, then pour over ice. Speaking of steeping—make unsweetened tea and pour over ice, then add lemon or even a squeeze of orange.
If you like a refreshing combo of ingredients, you’ll love these salads, which make the delicious most of the season: Peach, Basil and Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Marinated Cucumber and Melon Salad or Orzo Salad with Watermelon and Feta , shown below.