NEW YORK (CBS 2) — How would you like to lose weight without prescriptions, side-effects and almost no cost?

Well, your answer may be as close as the nearest faucet.

We all know water is good for us. But now there’s even better news – drinking water helps shed pounds, too.

Research shows drinking two eight-ounce glasses of water just before a meal makes us eat about 75 to 90 calories less. Day after day, that adds up.

A 12-week study of middle ages men and women found dieters who drank water before meals three times a day lost about five more pounds than those who didn’t.

“This is a very inexpensive and effective way to help with the obesity epidemic,” said Tara Miller, a registered dietitian.

Diet drinks can also help suppress your appetite – but Miller says they don’t have the other benefits of water.

“Water, because of the hydration effect, can also help you with other goals you might have,” said Miller. “Like staving off headaches, fatigue, irritability.”

So how much liquid should we drink every day just for our health? Most people don’t come close to drinking the recommended dose of water – nine cups for women and 13 for men.

Many experts say by the time you feel thirsty, you’re actually dehydrated, so keep sipping and you may lose weight along the way.

It is possible to drink too much water, causing a condition called water intoxication, but adding a couple of glasses before a meal is perfectly safe.

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