As the title says, I would like to know what is the best time to drink water, is it before, during, or after having a meal?
Also suppose the answer was during, what quantity is recommended?
Here's an excerpt from a blog post I did a while back addressing this question:
The “plug” in the bottom of your stomach is a stoma not a valve. It can be pushed open, so when you drink during a meal the liquid can push the food out of your stomach pouch and down into your intestines. There are two reasons you should care:
This frees up extra room in your stomach pouch so you’ll eat more during that meal. You’ll feel hungry again sooner.
A recommendation that I’ve stumbled across is the 15/30 rule. Don’t drink anything from 15 minutes before a meal until 30 minutes after a meal. This isn’t a license to under-hydrate, just a guideline on when to drink.
Update: The comment thread has indicated a desire for "proof" (pedants! :-) ), so here is some reference information and some reasoning built on top of that in support of the above hypothesis.
First, the amount of fluid in the stomach is positively correlated with the rate of gastric emptying. It so happens that 30 minutes is an approximate inflection point in the gastric emptying of both a solid and liquid meal, per the chart below (same source).
I'll assert that drinking water will render the net contents of the stomach more fluid, moving the gastric emptying rate from the blue curve towards the red curve.
This seems to confirm the conclusion that avoiding liquid during the meal will help stave off the next bout of hunger because a more solid meal will take longer to empty. The 15 minutes before also seems to fit, as roughly half of liquid consumed 15 minutes beforehand will have been emptied before the meal starts.
If one further considers the dynamics, drinking water immediately before a meal will help fill up the stomach and reduce immediate hunger but will cause that meal to be digested faster, so I hypothesize that you will be hungrier sooner with this approach.
A link from Mayo Clinic. "In fact, drinking water during or after a meal can actually improve digestion." There are proponents on all sides of this question, and at this point I can't find enough definitive information that could cause me (or cause anyone to worry about it very much) to drink or not drink during a meal.
I can find no mention of whether to drink water before, during or after meals in 2 references so far. One is Understanding Nutrition, 10th Ed., Whitney/Rolfes a college nutrition text. Nor in the Ace Personal Trainer Manual, 3rd Ed., American Council on Exercise. Both texts suggest the typical daily 8 glasses, but not necessarily as glasses of water, since a considerable amount of one's daily needs come with food.
There was some research reported in a number of popular news media outlets at the end of 2010 that suggests drinking water before meals can be conducive to losing weight. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/16/health/16really.html
And according to exrx.net, "There is no magic number in prescribing the amount of water to consume throughout the day. The optimal amount varies according to body size, activity level, enviornmental factors, and diet."
Anecdotally, I watched my grandparents live well (healthily) into their 90's drinking either coffee, water, or sweet iced tea with every meal. I actually never even thought about this question, but tend to drink beverages with meals dependent on whether the food is moist or dry and whether I'm thirsty or not.
I'm a fan of Dr. Thomas Levy. I've read his books. In short:
If your last food has digested then you may drink as much water as you can, even a second before next meals. Non-veg food takes around 3 hours to digest and vegetarian ones 1-2 hrs, fruits 30-40 minutes etc.
Don't drink when food is in your stomach as it dilutes the enzymes. Take least amount of water during this time. However sometimes some water is required when you eat dry items.
If I can answer your question with a single word, it would be "yes". Water is necessary for the proper digestion of food. Add to that the fact that many people are dehydrated from not enough fluid intake and you could conclud that people should drink water all the time, whether they are eating or not.
During a meal, I would suggest drinking a glass of water. Overall, I would just make sure I don't drink too much: How much water is too much?
When it doubt, drink more water.
Despite my background in science, I'm going to suggest that you use a little trial and error here to see what works best for your digestion and satiety. We can hypothesize and rationalize for weeks, but this is one circumstance where you can run the experiment for yourself several times over a few days. Just do it.
This New York Times article claims you should drink water before eating.
In the most recent [study], a randomized trial published in the journal Obesity in February, scientists at Virginia Tech followed a group of overweight subjects age 55 and up on low-calorie diets for about three months. Half the people were told to drink two cups of water before every meal. At the end of the study, the water group had lost an average of 15.5 pounds, compared with 11 pounds in the other group.
I have read about this on-line in medical forums and had several doctors tell me this. I tried it myself as have several relatives and it works. As "J. Winchester" commented above: the stomach needs acid to digest foods properly. When water is presented to your system during a meal, it fools the system into thinking that the liquid is acid and therefore shuts off production thereof. Yes, you will have wet food going down and it will eventually digest but not as efficiently as the the body's natural way. Consider that if the body still produced acid during the meal, The water would dilute the acid and make it less effective. Therefore, no liquid during food intake works for me and mine very well.
I think you should drink whenever you feel like it. My grandma always forbade my mom to drink during meals (for whatever reason) but I don't see the point of that and think that it was a 1940s fashion. As other questions pointed out already, it is usually not a good idea to drink a large amount at one point of the day. It is best to spread your water/liquid intake throughout the day.
I like to eat my meals with a drink but I tend to drink little or nothing immediately before I go running because I feel sick otherwise. Although I drink about 20-30 minutes before my run because I think it is good to be hydrated properly for the time of the workout. I was never concerned about being dehydrated and running around with a water bottle all day is ridiculous in my humble opinion:) I do 10-15h of sport a week and never crashed because of water deprivation. So, listen to your body and you will be fine.
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