There is a lot of conflicting information and reported health benefits resulting from drinking water in the morning. A quick internet search yields multiple results, including everything from increasing your metabolism, to eliminating toxins, to promoting weight loss, to even making you smarter. But are any of these true?
We will explore several reported health benefits of drinking water in the morning, along with whether or not the temperature of water that you drink actually makes a difference.
Drinking water first thing in the morning prevents dehydration
Some research show that providing children with water in the morning helps to improve hydration thereby decreasing risk for dehydration. Another study conducted on school children observed that providing fresh drinking water in the morning helped to lower the extent to which dehydration occurred later in the day.
When left unchecked dehydration can lead to increased mortality rate in older adults as put simply, dehydration is a negative fluid balance in the body. When the body is in this state for long, it lacks the resources it needs to function appropriately.
Being dehydrated is very common as 75% of all Americans are chronically dehydrated! Common side effects of dehydration include decreased levels of energy, dry skin, and constipation. Chronic dehydration can lead to many medical issues, such as high blood pressure, increased heart rate, lethargy or tiredness, and electrolyte imbalance. Being dehydrated can also affect the way medications work.
Bottom Line: Try a drink of water first thing as research does show some benefit to lessening dehydration throughout the day. However, more importantly drink enough water throughout the entire day as the water you intake in the morning is most likely not enough to keep you hydrated for the entire day.
Drinking water first thing in the morning increases your metabolism
This is the most common claim regarding drinking water first thing in the morning. Research does show that this is, in fact, a true statement. But, how much water would you need to drink?
A study (albeit small) showed that drinking 500ml of water increased energy expenditure by 30% after just one hour. In fact, in both men and women, metabolic rate increased after ten minutes and continued for over an hour. This might sound like a lot, but what does that mean for weight loss?
Well, drinking 1 1/2 liters of water (1500ml) would increase metabolism by 200 kilojoules (the measure of energy), or about 50 calories. Doing this every day for a year would result in burning 5.3 pounds of fat.
Bottom Line: Drinking water in the morning is not the only way to increase your metabolism, but judging from the evidence, it is a way and can't hurt.
Drinking water first thing in the morning eliminates toxins
It has been suggested that drinking a glass of water in the morning may flush out excess toxins from the body. This is somewhat of a true statement, but water isn't the only way to remove toxins.
The phrase "eliminating toxins" is pretty vague. Toxins include any substance or compound that is toxic, or harmful, to the body. This could include pollution, byproducts of smoking/alcohol/any substances that are ingested, carcinogens, or even some medications, like opioids or chemotherapy drugs.
The body naturally eliminates toxins via the liver, kidneys, and through sweat, breath, urine, and feces, and must be able to remove these toxins in order to continue to function normally. If there is a buildup of toxins, it is likely because the body is not able to properly filter because of a deficiency in the endocrine system.
Adequate water intake helps to keep the kidneys functioning properly (among many other processes). If the kidneys are not able to function, it may mean the risk of other diseases, including kidney stones, kidney failure, and cardiovascular disease. One of the recommendations for treatment of kidney stones is to drink a lot of water, to help to flush out buildup; specifically mineral deposits that can get caught in the kidneys.
Bottom Line: There are not really any scientific studies that have directly studied the amount of toxins in the body and timing of water intake, but the general recommendation is that drinking water does help to keep the organs working properly to eliminate wastes from the body.
Drinking water first thing in the morning prevents constipation
Some research shows that keeping your body hydrated by drinking water can help to maintain regular bowel activity and bowel movements, which can help to keep you healthy. A study in healthy men showed that reducing water intake led to less frequent bowel movements and increased constipation. Returning to normal water intake helped to return bowel movements to normal. However, this study did not specify at what time of day water was drank.
Constipation is infrequent or hard bowel movements. It seems to be common in older adults, with medication, dehydration, and lack of physical activity, along with poor diet, all playing a factor.
Bottom Line: It likely does not matter whether or not you wake up and drink a glass of water first thing in the morning, or continue your water intake throughout the day. You'll feel better with an increase in water consumption, which can keep your bowel healthy and functioning the way it should. Make an effort to wake up and drink water, and you'll likely help your body to work to the best of its ability.
Drinking water first thing in the morning helps you lose weight
One of the most common diet tips is to drink water first thing in the morning to lose weight. There are several variations to this statement, including the emphasis that you need to drink water on an empty stomach. Research is conflicted about the actual timing of water intake, but the good news is that it does appear that one of the benefits of drinking water is weight loss!
A literature review found several studies focused on the benefits of drinking water, specifically for weight loss. It found that if you drink a glass of water right before a meal (technically 500 milliliters, or 16 ounces) it helps to promote weight loss; about 5 pounds over 12 weeks. It's also important to note that the people participating in this study also ate less, which may have also contributed to their weight loss.
Bottom Line: Drinking water makes you feel full, so it may help you to eat less. Along with helping to keep you hydrated, it does look like drinking water before a meal can help you lose weight. However, it does not seem that you get any additional benefits from drinking water first thing in the morning as opposed to throughout the day.
Drinking water first thing in the morning makes you smarter
A literature review that focuses on water consumption and cognition found that, while drinking water does help to increase reaction time when given tasks to complete, that there is no specific timing needed. So, drinking water can help to make your brain function better, but drinking it in the morning compared to throughout the day likely does not make a difference.
Brain health is always being studied, especially ways that it could be boosted. Keeping your brain healthy means that the rest of your body will also be healthy. Dehydration can actually hurt your brain. It makes your brain not function as well, and neurotransmitters can actually cause your central nervous system to become impaired.
Bottom Line: Drinking water is the easiest way to stay hydrated, and research does show that your body, especially your brain, needs water to survive.
Drinking water in the morning helps to clear up your skin
A common health claim is that drinking water in the morning can help to clear up your skin. This is partially true. Proper hydration helps to prevent excessive dryness of the skin. Dry skin can slough off unevenly, which can start to clog pores, and lead to breakouts. Clear skin is something for which we all strive, as what other people see when they look at us can make or break a first impression; the skincare industry was valued around $300 billion dollars a few years ago.
As discussed earlier, there is an indirect relationship observed here as drinking water helps to prevent dry skin buildup, which prevents clogged pores, which can reduce breakouts. But does the time of day matter? The answer to that is No, not really. Adequate hydration is important, so waking up and drinking water can help you to meet your daily water intake, but drinking water first thing in the morning is not a direct indication that you can clear up your skin.
Bottom Line: Exercise, proper skincare, genetics, and a proper diet can all play a role in skin and risk for breakouts. Clear skin cannot be achieved with just drinking water, better yet more water in the mornings.
There is a lot of information out there about the benefits to drinking water. Claims that it helps to boost brain health, make you lose weight, clears your skin, and makes you smarter are all floating around, especially on health blogs and influencer sites.
We have discussed a lot of these points, and one thing is clear; there are a lot of benefits to drinking water. Water does help to keep you hydrated, can help you to eat less to lose weight, can help your organs to function properly to keep your digestive system going, and can keep your energy levels up, helping you to feel your best.
One thing that is difficult to pinpoint is whether or not the timing plays an actual role. Different studies offer different information, and it seems that most people go with what they read.
It's also important to note that drinking water on an empty stomach is not necessarily going to make or break the health benefits. It's difficult to determine whether or not health benefits are associated with drinking water on an empty stomach. Most of the research on water consumption and health benefits does not specify that you are required to drink water on an empty stomach in order to get the benefits.