What Is Japanese Water Therapy and Does It Help with Weight Loss?

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on August 19, 2020
Last updated on May 23, 2021

Are you struggling to get your beach body this summer? Perhaps you are constantly feeling hungry. Or maybe you lack the energy to finish a workout. Whatever it is, we hope that the Japanese water therapy can help you with it. Today we are here to explain everything that you need to know about this ancient Japanese practice beloved by hundreds. 

glass filled with water

What is Japanese water therapy?

Many believe that a healthy gut equals a healthy mind and body. Based on these beliefs, the practice of Japanese water therapy has been developed. As a part of this practice, one is supposed to drink several glasses of water first thing in the morning (1).

But be careful, because the water needs to be either room-temperature or warm. Drinking cold water is not advised. Cold water is said to be potentially harmful to our bodies. It is said to cause the dietary fats and oils to harden inside the digestive tract. This would slow down the digestion, thus causing digestive issues. 

Japanese water therapy has been and still is a part of Japanese medicine. As such, it is practiced by millions of people not only in Japan but all around the world. Recently, more Western medicine doctors are talking about the benefits of this practice.

How does it work?

The steps of Japanese water therapy are quite simple. They can be easily incorporated into anyone’s life. Besides its health benefits, this is another reason why so many people have decided to pursue it. Here are the two steps that you need to follow to gain the full specter of benefits.

  • Drink four to five 6-ounce glasses of water as soon as you wake up. Make sure that the water is at room temperature or warm. For beginners, the recommended amount of water is one to two glasses of water. That amount is to be gradually increased over time (2).
  • Brush your teeth only after you have drunk your water.
  • Eat and/or drink approximately 45 minutes after you have drunk your water in the morning.
  • Continue drinking water throughout the day. Follow the thirst cues carefully.
  • Avoid drinking water and/or eating 2 hours after your meal.
  • Do not drink and eat while standing.
  • Keep your mealtime short. Aim for no more than 15 minutes per meal.
  • Walk for at least one hour per day. 
  • Chew your food properly.
  • Before bedtime, gargle warm water mixed with salt (3).

Different guidelines are referring to the duration of Japanese water therapy. It all depends on the health issue that you are looking to relieve with the help of this practice. Constipation can be relieved in as little as 10 days. High blood pressure and diabetes type 2 are issues that usually take longer. The suggested period is 30 days. Cancer takes up to 180 days. Note that Japanese water therapy is not a scientifically proven treatment for cancer. However, it is still said to help improve the overall well-being of cancer patients. 

Can Japanese water therapy help you lose weight?

The reason behind your interest in Japanese water therapy is probably weight loss. There is nothing wrong with trying out new weight loss methods. In fact, one of the most popular benefits of this practice is controlled weight loss. 

Before we explain how Japanese water therapy is supposed to help trim off the excess body fat, let’s make something clear. Up until today, there is no scientific proof that speaks of its efficiency. There are many before you who have followed this practice and achieved good results through it. But that is just about it when it comes to Japanese water therapy. 

What we do have are hundreds of scientific studies done on the topic of water and its beneficial effects. Since water is the core of Japanese water therapy, it would be appropriate that we use the scientific proof that we have so far. Now let’s discuss how this ancient Japanese practice, through the use of water, can help you lose weight. 

  • Water lowers the calorie intake

Japanese water therapy teaches us about the principles of healthy eating. It also focuses on a calorie deficit to achieve weight loss. With the allowed 15-minute eating window, it is easy to reduce our calorie intake. This allows us the time to prioritize certain foods. Naturally, you would choose more filling foods such as protein and fiber over carbs and fatty food. By doing so, you will prevent starvation from taking place. But you will also limit your calories significantly. 

Japanese water therapy also prevents liquid calories. Any store-bought fruit juices, sodas, and other sweetened beverages are replaced with plain water. This is very important for the overall weight loss process. You may not be aware of it, but we intake a lot of liquid calories during the day. It is these calories, artificial sweeteners, and colors that are harming our health (4).

Not to worry. There are other beverages other than water that contain zero calories. Take black coffee or unsweetened tea for example. And you can always add a few drops of lemon juice or even cinnamon to your water. This will improve its taste, but it will also add to the beneficial effects.  

  • Water boosts the metabolism

An added benefit from Japanese water therapy is a faster metabolism. Research suggests that drinking water can help boost your metabolic rate. This will result in more burned calories on a daily level.

A 2014 study published in the Acta Physiologica investigated this occurrence. As a part of this study, the participants were instructed to drink 500 ml of water. The water was either cold or room temperature. The results showed increased energy expenditure among the participants. Only 90 minutes after consummation, the participants started burning 2-3% more calories than usual.

Researchers concluded that it was cold water that achieved greater energy expenditure (5). This is explained as the body trying to heat the cold water, thus burning more calories in the process. May we remind you that the Japanese water therapy requires consummation of only warm or room temperature water. Increased energy expenditure is still possible with the consummation of room temperature water.

  • Water acts as a natural appetite suppressant

If you are struggling with frequent feelings of hunger, you probably need to drink more water. Water helps fill up your stomach. This creates the illusion that your stomach is filled with food. Your stomach will then send a message to your brain that it does not need any food, at least not soon. 

That is why we say water is a natural appetite suppressant (6). Then there is also the possibility that you are thirsty and not hungry. By drinking a glass of water, you can help your brain distinguish the difference. Japanese water therapy relies on all of these principles and uses them to its advantage.

By drinking lots of water before breakfast, you can help create a feeling of fullness. This will later reduce calorie intake during breakfast. A 2014 study investigated water as an appetite suppressant. To do that, the participants were instructed to drink 500 ml of water around 30 minutes before each meal. They were also supposed to continue drinking water during the day. 

The study discovered that water consummation before a meal results in a reduction in BMI, body fat, and body weight (7). Another study from the year before had similar results. This was enough to conclude that water truly acts as a natural appetite suppressant (8). One of the main principles of Japanese water therapy is drinking lots of water first thing in the morning. It is only then, after 45 minutes, that breakfast takes place. Knowing that similar results to those achieved during research, are expected to happen. 

  • Water helps burn more fat

Who likes seeing layers of fat around their stomach, thighs, and arms? Not many people, as we would guess. For many, it is their belly fat that represents the source of dissatisfaction with their body. Belly fat is also linked to several health issues (9). It is important that you do what you can to eliminate it.

Luckily, Japanese water therapy can help you with that. Our body needs water in order to metabolize the stored carbs and fats. Without it, the body will continue storing carbs and fats instead of burning through them for energy. This will result in further layering of fat. 

Science has confirmed that water increases the process called lipolysis (10). Lipolysis is the process of burning fat. Although the study has been done on animal subjects, instead of human ones, the results are quite satisfying, to say the least. So, if it is your belly fat that is making you insecure, consider increasing your water intake. Japanese water therapy is a great method to do just that!

  • Water improves the quality of your workouts

Like it or not, to lose weight, you need to exercise. This may be a hard thing to hear if you are a couch potato, but that does not make it untrue. Exercise is the answer to both treating and preventing several health issues. It helps strengthen your muscles, bones, and joints. It also focuses on the heart and lungs to help them work better. And exercising is great for your mental health as well. There is hardly a cell in the body that does not benefit from exercise (11, 12).

Japanese water therapy teaches us about the importance of movement. As we mentioned before, it is in its practice to walk for at least an hour a day. This will further boost your metabolism, helping to increase the number of burned calories and fat. 

Drinking water will help improve the overall quality of your workouts. Muscle cramps and fatigue are often things that reduce the quality of the workout (13). They are also things caused by dehydration. But since Japanese water therapy does such a good job at hydrating your body, you can forget all about dehydration and enjoy your workout.

Is Japanese water therapy safe?

Overall, the safety of Japanese water therapy is not questioned. This practice is marked as generally safe to be followed. It is worth mentioning that this practice is associated with potential health risks. Japanese water therapy can lead to water intoxication when done improperly. Water intoxication, or overhydration, is a rare condition, and yet plausible. This issue happens when one drinks a large amount of water in a short period of time (14).

Overhydration is caused by low salt levels. Salt is diluted in the excessive amount of fluid that is exceeded from the body. As we mentioned, this is a rare condition. Healthy individuals do not have much to worry about. The risk is higher among individuals with kidney issues, endurance athletes, etc. 

If you want to stay on the safe side of things, avoid drinking more than 4 glasses of water per hour. Individuals with kidney issues should consult a doctor before practicing Japanese water therapy.

The following downside is not exactly a health issue, but it is worth mentioning. Some people consider Japanese water therapy quite restrictive when it comes to meal duration. The 15-minute eating window may not be convenient for everyone. 

The short eating window can easily lead to overeating (15). In such a case, the opposite of weight loss can happen, hence weight gain and overweight. Overeating can also cause additional digestive issues and indigestion. 

If you are trying to lose weight with Japanese water therapy, be mindful of your eating habits. Decide on a sustainable calorie deficit instead of a too restrictive deficit that will set you up for failure. Too restrictive calorie deficit increases the risk of binge eating, thus causing unintentional weight gain. 


Japanese water therapy uses the healing powers of water to maintain good physical and mental health. By drinking water first thing in the morning, you can achieve several beneficial effects. The most important of them all is of course weight loss. Perhaps it will be Japanese water therapy that will get you closer to the body of your dreams. 


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