You aim for eight glasses of water each day to stay hydrated but new research may give you another incentive to drink up: each extra glass of water may help you consume 68 fewer calories at mealtime. They say seven glasses of water is enough to help you cut up to 200 calories from your total daily intake.

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    In new research out of the University of Illinois, scientists say people who increase their water intake by one per cent ended up eating fewer calories, saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.

    The water just had to be plain – from a tap, cooler, drinking fountain or bottle, according to Dr. Ruopeng An, a kinesiology and community heath professor at the university.

    “The impact of plain water intake on diet was similar across race, ethnicity, education and income levels and body weight status,” An said.

    “The finding indicates that it might be sufficient to design and deliver universal nutrition interventions and education campaigns that promote plain water consumption in replacement of beverages with calories,” he said.

    READ MORE: This simple change in school cafeterias could help kids lose weight

    The findings are based on the nutrition habits of more than 18,300 U.S. adults. Those who increased their intake of water by one, two or three cups daily reaped these benefits:

    One extra glass of water each day was tied to eating 68 fewer caloriesThree extra cups of water each day was tied to eating 205 fewer calories205 fewer calories each day could lead to losing about a half pound each weekSodium intake decreased by 78 to 235 milligrams depending on how much water they drankSugar intake decreased by five to 18 gramsCholesterol intake decreased by about 7 to 21 milligrams daily

    The researchers guess that drinking plain water helps to make you feel full so you tend to eat less. In the past, experts have suggested drinking a glass of water when hunger pangs strike in case you’re mistaking thirst for hunger. They also suggest drinking a glass of water before mealtime to tame your appetite.

    READ MORE: This food will make you feel fuller if you’re trying to lose weight

    Water also helps with digestion and flushing out toxins from your body.

    An calculated these figures by looking at how much water each person drank according to their daily water intake from food and drinks combined.

    On average, participants drank about 4.2 cups of plain water daily – that’s about 30 per cent of their total dietary water intake. They ate about 2,157 calories, including 125 calories from sugary drinks. Another 432 calories came from junk food.

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    The decreases in calories, salt, sugar and fat were strongest in men and young and middle-aged adults. It could be because they eat more in general.

    An’s full findings were published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. Read the study.

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