If you want to lose weight, just add water

If one of your health goals is to manage your weight, you have a secret weapon in your home right now. It's the free stuff flowing out of your kitchen and bathroom taps.

That's right, water! How does boosting your aqua A-game help you lose weight?

• It curbs hunger symptoms

We often mistake the signs of dehydration for those of hunger: lightheadedness, headaches, muscle cramps, irritability. So the next time you feel this way, ask yourself, "When was the last time I had something to drink?" Make it your goal to have a glass of water before every meal and snack. Decoupling thirst from hunger makes it easier to stay hydrated and control your portions at mealtime.

• It busts fat

Fat molecules are large and require water to break them down so that they can be burned as energy. Keeping your body hydrated keeps this breakdown process going so that you can continue to burn stored fat as fuel.

So if you've been limiting your liquids because you don't like seeing the "water weight" tilt your bathroom scale, I can certainly understand your reasoning. But all you're doing is stalling your body's ability to lose weight. When your body gets less water, it perceives this as a threat and holds onto every drop.

•It aids digestion

Remember going down the Slip 'N Slide as a kid? What happened when there was no water on the slide? That's right, you got stuck. The same holds true for our digestive tract. A well-functioning digestive system helps us "lighten the load" in the quickest way nature knows how. It also helps us feel lighter by reducing bloating, gas and constipation.

Hopefully, you're seeing the value of hydration as a weight loss strategy. The one big hurdle for many people, myself included? Compared to the sugary Technicolor wall of other beverage options at the store, water is ... well, water. But everyone's favorite flavorless, colorless fluid can be as exciting as any soft drink. All it takes is a little flair.

• Go on a shopping spree

A 32-ounce reusable water bottle is more than a mere vessel for liquids. It can be a handheld expression of your personality. A photo gallery. It can even remind you when to hydrate. With so many options from which to choose, shopping is half the fun.

Finding a bottle that you love will help you stay motivated for the next part. Fill it up each morning and make it your goal to empty it by lunch. Don't refill it until it's empty so that you know exactly how much you've drunk. Refill after lunch and repeat before bedtime.

• Harness the power of cold infusion

What I love about infused water is it sounds fancy, yet it doesn't have to be. Simply cut up your favorite fruits, vegetables, herbs or any combination thereof and add them to a pitcher of water. Leave it in the fridge anywhere from a few hours to overnight (the longer the water sits, the more powerful the flavor will be).

If you like your infused water on the go, you can fill up your water bottle or even purchase an infuser water bottle.

• Make it fizzy

Carbonated flavored waters are having a moment, with countless brands and flavors available. Explore your options until you strike upon the taste and level of carbonation you like best. If you like the flavor but not the bubbles tickling your nose, brands such as Hint Water and SZENT Water pair still water with either a hint of flavor or a scent ring.

Personally, I like to make my own version. I start with standard carbonated water and then squeeze in the juice from half of a fresh lemon and lime. It's a refreshing sip for any time of day.

• Play dress-up

Put your water in your fanciest glass. Add a few slices of lemon or lime. Toss in a sprig of mint. Dressing your ordinary H2O as an Instagrammable party drink is fun, and the pleasing visuals will encourage you to drink more water, too.

- Amita Health's Courtney Southwood is a practicing registered dietitian with more than a decade of experience who specializes in weight management and pediatric nutrition.