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Small changes in behavior can add up to big changes in one’s health. Millions of people struggle with weight loss. Billions of dollars a year are spent on fad diets, exercise programs and surgical intervention- but what if you could use something as widely available and free as tap water to lose weight?

If you are interested in being a part of a pilot we are running at PeerWell that uses trigger anchoring- a critical part of what makes the method discussed below work- please fill out this form.

2 Cups of Water, 30 Minutes Before Meals

Researchers at the University of Birmingham conducted a randomized controlled trial that shows that pre-loading with water before meals can lead to weight loss.

The study used 84 obese adults who were all given a 30 minute in person weight loss consultation and a 10 minute follow up phone call 2 weeks into the study.

The 84 adults were split into two groups of equal size. Group 1 was asked to drink 500 ml of water (2 cups) 30 minutes prior to having their meals. Group 2 was asked to visualized being full before starting meals.

Over the course of 12 weeks, participants who drank 2 cups of water before all 3 daily meals reported weight loss of 9.48lbs, whereas those who drank water before 1 meal or less only lost 1.76lbs.

The reason this works is pretty straightforward. Drinking water led to a drop in average calories consumed daily. This drop leads to weight loss over time.

Trigger Anchoring

Often times when changing behavior, people employ a powerful technique called trigger anchoring. The basic idea is that you tie new behaviors to other behaviors that are already habits. For example, if you want to start taking vitamins every morning you could set a rule that you do this every time you brush your teeth.

The way this works is that you take the decision making out of the equation. Every time you have to make a decision to expend effort in a new direction your brain starts coming up with reasons why you shouldn’t. By anchoring new behaviors you set yourself up for success by not giving your brain the opportunity to sidetrack you.

So if you’d like to lose weight and want to add drinking water to your routine tie it to something that you will remember. It can be as simple as setting an alarm.


Triggered reduction in calories consumed by drinking 2 cups of water 30 mins before meals led to weight loss over 12 weeks.

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