When a super-simple diet trick comes along (finally!), and it’s one that can help you save serious calories, you know it’s time to get excited. According to a new study, cutting calories could be as simple as reaching for a cup of water.
Researchers from the University of Illinois looked at the dietary habits of more than 18,000 adults and found an interesting pattern: Participants slashed their total calorie intake when they increased the amount of water they drank each day by just one measly percent.
Those who increased their normal water consumption—just tap or bottled, nothing fancy—by one, two, or three cups saved anywhere from 68 to 205 calories throughout the day.
Why? At the most basic level, water helps fill you up and leaves less room for junk, says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Diet Change. “Lots of times a person thinks they may be hungry but in reality, they are slightly dehydrated instead,” Gans says. So you might be reaching for a snack when all you really need is a glass of water.
The research also found that people who increased their water intake consumed less sodium (by as much as 235g), less sugar (by as much as 18g), and less cholesterol (by as much as 21g).
Want to ante up your H2O consumption? Try Gans’ five tips to stay hydrated.
1. Pour yourself a glass of water with every meal.
2. Put a bottle of water on your bedside table so it’s the first thing you reach for when you wake up.
3. Put a sticky note on your desk or near your computer reminding you to drink up throughout the day.
4. Always keep a bottle of water with you in your backpack, purse, or gym bag.
5. If you don’t love the taste of water, add some fresh lemon, lime, or other fruit for flavor.