Drinking a pint of water before you get to the kitchen table may help you lose weight, a new research published in Obesity suggests.

Recruiting 84 obese adults to take part in a 12-week-long study, the authors, after providing the participants with an in-person weight management consultation, randomly advised half of them to drink approximately a pint of water (or two cups) 30 minutes before a “main meal”, and the other half to simply imagine themselves with a full stomach before they sat down to eat (A follow-up consultation by phone occurred two weeks in.)

Though both groups, on average, lost weight by the end of the 12 weeks, the water-guzzlers lost about 3 more pounds than the imagination group. Among the former group, those who said that they always drank before each meal, or “preloaded”, lost 9.8 pounds compared to the 1.76 pounds lost by those who only preloaded once a day or not at all.

"When combined with brief instructions on how to increase your amount of physical activity and on a healthy diet, this seems to help people to achieve some extra weight loss — at a moderate and healthy rate,” said lead author Dr. Helen Paretti of the University at Birmingham in a statement . “It's something that doesn't take much work to integrate into our busy everyday lives.”

For those wondering how the authors managed to ensure that the participants actually went on their water ritual, they explained that they used “several measures of adherence...including 24 hour total urine collections.”

Though this study is preliminary, there is other research backing up the basic premise of preloading. A 2013 study in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that people who preloaded before a meal with low-calorie but nutritionally valuable foods like yogurt and salad (as well as water) experienced a greater decrease of weight and other risk factors of cardiovascular disease over a period of three months when compared to a control group.

Paretti and her colleagues hope to confirm their findings with a larger, more extensive trial. Should their little water trick continue to measure up well, it could be a real boon to those struggling with their weight.

"Losing a few extra pounds over the course of a year can be significant to an individual, and this could be an easy way to help with that weight loss,” Paretti said. “It's a simple message that has the potential to make a real contribution to public health.”

Source: Paretti H, Aveyard P, Blannin A, et al. Efficacy of water preloading before main meals as a strategy for weight loss in primary care patients with obesity: RCT. Obesity. 2015.